This tangy, spicy curry from Goa, India, has roots in vinh d'alho, a stew brought to the region by Portuguese colonists. Now an Indian restaurant staple, it comes in countless variations—some fiery, some mild—from the subcontinent to the British Isles.
During cooking, okra exudes a thick liquid that gives this hearty Cajun stew a sumptuous, silky texture; a little filé powder, made from dried sassafras leaves, further thickens and enriches it. But the backbone of this gumbo, and the source of its smoky flavor, is the roux made by toasting flour in hot oil until it is a deep red-brown.
Warming, filling chicken soup just may be the ultimate panacea. Cooking the noodles in the broth enriches both the noodles' flavor and the soup itself, which thickens slightly from the released starches.
The list of ingredients in a West African Peanut Stew often extends to okra, tomatoes, hot chiles, and other bright foils for the stew's intense richness, but it's the indispensable peanut that gives this dish its essential earthy character.
The Indian antecedent to my favorite soup, mulligatawny, likely was a thin, spicy lentil broth. The British thickened it, added meat, but, thankfully, kept the glorious Indian spices.