the appetizer:

Journey along the Indian spice route with Andreas Viestad in his new cookbook, Where Flavor Was Born, featuring recipes like Mauritian Bouillabaisse (Mauritius); Cumin-Curry Tuna Salad with Dates and Chickpeas (Oman); and Curried Duck with Vanilla (Réunion—France).

Cookbook Profile

Curried Duck with Vanilla

Réunion is an island, located in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar, south west of Mauritius. Réunion is one of the overseas départements of France.

Curried Duck with Vanilla


Serves 4 as a main course

When I first heard of the Réunionnaise tradition of using vanilla as a spice in savory dishes, I thought the result would be too much, too sweet—something like the fusion chefs of the 1990s serving steaks with a vanilla custard sauce. But, as it turned out, my reservations were just prejudice. The sweet aromas of vanilla should not be misused, but when used in moderation with duck, chicken, or fish the spice shows off a side of itself that is capable of more than just contributing to the world's best-loved ice cream.

In this curry, the vanilla is allowed to interact and blend with more flavors. The dish can also be made with pork.

1 Rub the duck with the vanilla seeds, curry powder, and salt to taste. Cut the vanilla bean in smaller pieces.

2 Heat the butter in a large, deep skillet or a wide pot over medium heat. Add the duck and vanilla bean and sauté for 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Add the onions and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 20 minutes, or even longer for falling-apart-tender duck thighs. Serve with rice, such as Yellow Rice (page 189 of the book), or Rice Pilau (page 243).


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This page created November 2007