Southern Indian Vegetable Curry
Before I say anything else, please, please don’t be put off by the list of ingredients for the curry. It’s mostly just spices, and in no way means that this is a complicated recipe, in fact it is pretty simple.
Ok, now that’s out of the way I can tell you that as a confirmed meat eater this is a really satisfying dish. I’ve said (sorry if I’m beginning to repeat myself) that there is only one place I could consider being vegetarian, and that’s Sicily. Well, I have to eat my words (and believe me, if it were possible I would) and tell you that India could also persuade me to give up meat.
It’s the spice I think that does it, it charms and disarms the carnivore and before you know it you realise that you’re not even looking at the ‘non-veg’ options on their menu’s. Of course it’s got something to do with the environment you’re in, the culture, the climate, I know how that can affect eating habits, but even after coming home I found myself eating less meat and turning more and more to spice.
Although I love meat, I don’t eat a huge amount and one of the many things I learnt in India was that I wanted to eat even less. So, if you feel like cutting down a little too, but not giving up on the flavour or enjoyment of your food, this could be a really great place to start.
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
For the Curry Paste
1 x tsp of fennel seeds
2 x tsp of cumin seeds
2 x tsp of coriander powder
2 x tsp turmeric
2 x tsp Kashmiri chili powder
1 x tsp cinnamon
½ tsp asafoetida (optional)
6 x tbsp. of desiccated coconut
3 x red chilies, stalks removed and halved
4 x large garlic cloves
2 x medium tomatoes, quartered
1 x red onion, quartered
1 x tbsp. of tomato puree
4 x tbsp. of water
For the Vegetables
2 x tbsp. of vegetable oil (I normally use sunflower)
1 red onion sliced thinly
700gr / 1.5lb cauliflower florets (a small cauly will do). Cut or tear the florets into quite small, bite sized sections.
1 x aubergine (eggplant), diced
2 x red peppers with the seeds and stalks removed and then diced
200gr / 7oz. x green beans, topped and tailed and cut into 2cm / 1 in. pieces
1 x tbsp. of honey
1 x tbsp. of red wine vinegar (or other vinegar if you don’t have the red wine variety)
Salt to taste
Some natural yogurt and fresh coriander leaves.
- Grind the fennel and cumin seeds. If you are feeling particularly worthy or in need of some exercise you can do this by hand with a pestle and mortar, but, if like me you just want your dinner, do it in a little electric spice or coffee grinder. Oh, but if you use a coffee grinder, keep it for spices only.
- Place the ground fennel and cumin with the rest of the ingredients listed under the heading ‘for the curry paste’ in a blender and whizz up until you get a smooth puree. If it is not blending as smooth as you want it, add a little more water to loosen up the mix.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottom soup or stew pan and add the sliced red onion, frying on a medium high heat until it browns.
- Add the curry paste, a little salt, the vinegar and honey, stir through and cook at a medium simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add the red pepper, stir through, cover with a close fitting lid and cook for about 7 minutes. Check after a minute to make sure your temperature is correct, it should be simmering gently.
- Then add the cauliflower and aubergine (eggplant), again stir through to cover it in your curry paste, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Then it’s the beans, cook for a further 7 to 10 minutes. The curry is ready when the vegetables have softened but still retain a little bite.
- This curry should be quite thick, but because of all the vegetables and depending on how much water you added to blend your paste, it may be thinner than you wish. To thicken, remove the lid from the pan, turn up the heat and allow to reduce for a minute or two.
- Check your curry for seasoning, you may need to add some more salt or you may want a little more heat in the form of fresh or powdered chili. You can even add more sweetness with an extra squeeze of honey.
Tips and Variations
- You can vary the combination of vegetables as much as you wish – it’s a really handy recipe for using up veggies lurking in the back of the fridge that are perhaps past their best. Just remember different vegetables have different cooking times – you don’t want it turning to mush.
- Try this mix with peppers (red and green) and tofu, this is one of my favourite variations.
- Asafoetida is a powder that you will find in some specialist shops or Indian deli’s. It’s derived from a root and is often used in Southern Indian vegetable dishes and has an earthy, oniony flavour. It’s not to everyone’s taste and can take a bit of getting used to. To be honest I tend not to use it as I find at home I really don’t enjoy it the way I did when travelling in India.
- This curry is a bit of a mix of a Goa style and Kerala curry. You can see the Goa influence with the addition of a little bit of vinegar – this came from the time when the area was colonized by the Portuguese. And of course no Kerala curry would be complete without the use of coconuts.
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