Thursday, 7 April 2011

Veggie Curry with delicious dhal

Our Indian Feast

I promised you savoury and savoury is what you shall get. Both The Boy and I love Indian food but I’m generally against having take away’s because of the fat involved (they’re great as an occasional treat, obviously!). I also think that by the time you’ve chosen what you want, found the number, placed your order and picked up your meal (or had delivered), you might as well have made your own.

Much as I'd like to make my curry paste from scratch for every Indian-inspired meal that I cook, our spice box is already filled to bursting and is refusing to receive any more herbs or spices. Instead, I rely on Patak's curry paste which I think is pretty good for curry in a hurry. Their range of pastes can be used as marinades too so they're a versatile investment.

The day after curry night is always a treat too because it makes amazing leftovers. Day-after curry is always tastier - must be something to do with flavours infusing and mellowing. Yum!

Vegetable Curry
Serves 4 with rice
1 onion, sliced
2 tbsp of curry paste (I use Patak’s)
½ chilli, chopped (or to taste)
1 tsp sugar
1 cauliflower, separated into florets and any stem chopped
1 courgette, sliced
4 leaves of savoy cabbage, sliced and the stem removed and chopped
1 tin of plum tomatoes, chopped (or tin of chopped tomatoes)
3 tight handfuls of washed spinach
Sunflower oil for frying

- Gently fry the onion and chilli in a little sunflower oil in a saucepan or wok with a lid for a few minutes until softened.
- Add the curry paste, stir through the onions and gently cook for about 3 minutes to release the flavours.
- Add the cauliflower, sugar and the tomatoes then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the courgette and cabbage and simmer for a further 10 minutes. All of the vegetables should be tender at this stage.
- Turn off the heat under the pan. Taste and season the curry with salt and pepper.
- Add the spinach into the curry, stir through and firmly cover. It will only take a few minutes to wilt down. Serve with rice and mango chutney.

Tips: Ingredients can be chopped and changed depending on your tastes and what’s in season. Finely sliced spring greens are a tasty alternative to spinach. If we have lots of vegetables mounting up in the fridge, I’ll cook up a batch of curry. A tin of chickpeas never goes amiss either for a different texture.

Carrot & Lentil Dhal

Serves 4 as a side dish
Adapted from Fiona Beckett's Beyond Baked Beans (review here)

125g red lentils
1 clove garlic
½ vegetable stock cube
½ onion
2 carrots
2 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp fresh coriander
Lime (or lemon) juice, to taste
Sunflower oil for frying

- Boil the kettle while you weigh out the lentils into a saucepan and add the garlic clove whole with a tsp of the curry powder.
- Dissolve the stock cube in a few tbsp of boiling water and then top up with cold water to 500ml.
- Pour the stock over the lentils and bring to the boil. Part cover and simmer on a low heat for 20 – 30 minutes until the lentils are tender and most of the stock has been absorbed. You don’t want the mixture to boil dry and I needed to stir the mixture several times during cooking to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Finely chop the onion and fry in a little oil until it is golden brown.
- Grate the carrot (I did it on the thicker grater to give the dhal some texture) and then add that to the pan with the last of the curry powder. Cook on a low heat for a few minutes until softened.
- When the lentils are ready, fish out the garlic clove and squash with a fork into a smooth paste. Add this and the lentils to the carrot and onion.
- Add the coriander and stir until combined. Season with salt, pepper and lime.

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