They say that inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places. I certainly wasn’t looking to be inspired on a recent flight from New York to San Francisco, and yet there it was, an idea for a fun take on the savory cocktail.
I’m not usually a Bloody Mary drinker, but I’d missed my chance to have one at brunch before heading to the airport, and it seemed too early to be ordering whisky. Unsurprisingly it was bland and insipid. What was a surprise was the meal that came out with it: fillet mignon with a curried vegetable sauce. The steak was thick, spot-on medium rare, and with picture perfect grill marks.
The curry flavor in the sauce elevated the bland Bloody Mary into something better. I resolved then and there that I needed to try and make a curry flavored Bloody Mary when I got home.
While vodka is traditionally the spirit used in Bloody Mary’s, the botanicals infused into gin go wonderfully with the celery and spices. What’s more, gin has enjoyed an illustrious history in India along with its most common mixer: tonic water.
As for the name, one common creation legend is that the Bloody Mary was named after Queen Mary I of England. Since Maharaja is a Sanskrit title for king, and Maharani is the female equivalent, it seemed like a fitting name.
It’s best to use home grown canned tomatoes, but the ones from San Marzano Italy make a good substitute. Be careful though, as there are high-price brands that market themselves as “San Marzano”, yet they’re made elsewhere and taste no different than ordinary canned tomatoes. If you want to use fresh tomatoes, you’ll need to stew them first to reduce the water content and concentrate the flavor of the tomatoes.
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 800 gram (28.2 ounce) can of stewed tomatoes, preferably from San Marzano
- 2 stalks (70 grams / 2.5 ounces) celery, roughly chopped + more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- mellow gin (like Hendricks or Bombay Saphire)
- hot sauce (optional)
- In a dry stainless steel or cast iron frying pan, add the curry powder and toast, stirring constantly until fragrant.
- In a blender, add the can of tomatoes, the celery, lemon juice, curry powder, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, and then strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a pitcher, pressing on the solids to extract as much juice as possible.
- Fill glasses with ice. Add a quarter glass of gin, top off with the tomato mix, add some of your favorite hot sauce if you want and stir together using a spoon. Serve with the celery stick, a dust of curry powder and a twist of lemon
Yield: 4 cups of mixer or 4-6 drinks
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.