A good curry is my go-to dish when I’m not sure what to cook for people. Here’s a secret feel free not to share with the people you're cooking for – it’s ridiculously easy – just a bit time-consuming!
A proper homemade curry tastes awesome, you can throw in whatever is in your fridge and you can even make it the night before to stop yourself stressing on the day!
A curry will impress people – when you tell them how you made it yourself from scratch they will look at you in a new light and believe you are a domestic goddess. Ok maybe not but they will be impressed.
Here is my recipe for a curry (yesterday’s dinner and today’s lunch), but it look at it as a guideline only, you can vary the spices as you like and you can definitely vary the veg. Potatoes, carrots, fresh tomatoes, sweet potatoes, baby corns, mushrooms, green beans..... I’ve used them all with success and even put in frozen mixed veg – like I said, whatever you have in your fridge.
The first stage is making the spice mixture. I think the best flavour comes from toasting and grinding your own spices, but if you prefer you can use all ready ground spices. This makes a lot of curry, it will probably feed 3 or 4, depending what you serve it with. In my case it was last night's dinner, today's lunch and a couple of frozen meals for lazy days.
1½ tsp cumin seeds
1½ tsp coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick, broken in two pieces (or 3 if it’s a biggun)
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp black pepper (course ground or whole peppercorns)
Seeds from 3 cardamom pods (if they are a bit old and have less seeds, increase it to 5. Discard the pod, it tastes like soap!)
2 tsp turmeric
½ tsp paprika*
1 medium onion, chopped
A couple of tbsp or so of olive oil for frying
1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes
1 can (400ml) light coconut milk (use full fat it you prefer)
1 garlic clove
2cm ish piece of fresh root ginger, peeled
1 can (400g) chick peas
1 fresh chilli (de-seeded if you don’t like too much fire, left in if you wanna burn!) or 1½ tsp hot chilli sauce (I used Nando’s peri peri sauce, that stuff is hot!)
1 red pepper, cut into big, rough chunks
Salt & pepper
½ a bag (about 100g) spinach
140g (1 cup) frozen peas
About ½ a 25g pack of fresh coriander
In a dry frying pan, toast the whole spices over a medium heat, until they are lightly browned and the aroma starts to be released. Remove the cinnamon stick and put to one side, then tip the rest of the whole spices into a spice grinder and grind to a powder (or a pestle and mortar if you’re feeling energetic / aggressive).
Add the turmeric and paprika and pulse to combine it with the other spices.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion over a medium heat for a few minutes, until translucent. Turn the heat down low and add the spice mixture. Stir well and cook on low for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add a splash (a couple of tablespoons) of water and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up any spices that stick.
Add the tomatoes (I also fill the can about ¼ full with water and shake it around just to get all the tomatoes out and add that to the pan). Shake the coconut milk (violently!!), this combines the two halves of the can, then add to the pan. Stir well. Put the cinnamon stick in.
Add the chilli or chill sauce, depends on which you are using. If you’re not sure whether to add the seeds or not, taste A Little Bit of the chilli, if it burns ya gob, leave the seeds out! Hahaha. I didn’t have any fresh chilli so I used my trusty Nando’s peri peri sauce instead, which you can buy with the condiments in most supermarkets now.
Crush or grate the garlic and ginger (I grate it straight into the pan with a microplane grater – about £1.50 from Sainsbury’s, marked as a parmesan grater!!) and add to the sauce. Stir well.
Add the chickpeas, red pepper and season well (don’t be surprised but you need to add a fair bit of salt. Start with a good big pinch or two - but don’t overdo it, you can always add more later).
Turn up the heat, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, with a lid on, for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Also this is a good time to check if you need any more chilli sauce! Then, add the peas and stir well. Add the spinach and push it down into the curry, put the lid on leave for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes stir again and switch off.
Remove the cinnamon stick (or warn your friends). Roughly chop the coriander and sprinkle in and stir through.
I served mine with Tesco’s low fat naan breads (which don’t have any dairy in like most naan bread – hurrah!) and a veggie samosa but it goes perfectly with rice too, I was just too lazy to cook any.
This curry is great because it has a lot of sauce, the more veggies you add though the less sauce there will be (you can always add some water or stock to combat this though). It is also even better I think when you make it in advance and reheat it.
If you don’t want to add coconut milk (I recommend you do because it makes the curry taste amazing) you can leave it out and use water instead. If you do this but still want it creamy you can add some soya yoghurt near the end of the cooking, or some vegan sour cream ...etc.
*Paprika is probably not authentic in curries but I love it!
Cooking to: Charlotte Hatherley – Grey will Fade