Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Vegetable curry

I had a couple of small squashes, three carrots and a parsnip remaining in my organic box. A curry was in order. Apologies to purists; but this was home cooking for two on a Monday night.

I also had the tops of some leeks, a few sections of spring onions, and parsley. I boiled about a litre of water, shoved in the vegetables and herb with a chopped onion, and simmered them for 30 minutes to make a vegetable stock.

Vegetable curry for 2
2 small squashes
3 carrots
1 parsnip
2 onions
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
5 cardamon pods
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/3 tsp chilli powder
40 g creamed coconut
Vegetable stock
Groundnut or sunflower oil, butter

Cut the squashes, carrots and parsnips into fork-sized pieces. You may want to get rid of the woody cores of the parsnip; I slice the vegetable lengthways into quarters, then cut out the central bits. Place the pieces in a baking tray, and toss with groundnut (or sunflower) oil, the caraway and cumin, and some salt. Bake at gas mark 6/200 C for an hour, or until tender.

Slice the onion, chop the garlic, and crush the cardamon to release the seeds. Gently fry them in a tbsp (or more, if necessary) of groundnut (or sunflower) oil and butter combined, until brown.

Tip the cooked vegetables into the onion mixture with the coconut, vegetable stock, turmeric and chilli. Add a little stock at a time; the vegetables will absorb it, and the sauce will thicken. Keep adding stock until you have the consistency you want. Simmer for about five minutes. Check the seasoning, adding more salt and chilli if you like.

It is a pity that I did not have fresh coriander and chillis, which would have made a nice garnish.

Baking the vegetables. You could, of course, simply simmer them in the stock with the fried onion and garlic; but I like the sweetness that baking concentrates in them.

Butter and oil. Butter goes brown when heated; so it helps the onions and garlic to brown. But you have to be careful that it does not burn. And you have to be patient, attending to the pan for at least 20 minutes.

Cardamon. I love the citrus notes that cardamon imparts. It seems easier to fry the spice (I usually throw in the pods as well) than to extract the seeds and toss them with the vegetables before baking.

Coconut. The Biona brand conveniently divides 200 g of creamed coconut into five sachets, rather than presenting it in a block.

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