Vegetable Curry

Vegetable Curry

 

As a devoted carnivore I was a little skeptical when first asked to cook a vegetable curry. I had to resist my innate response to hurl a cookbook across the room! It is not that I don’t appreciate and enjoy vegetarian food when it is thrust in front of me, rather I do not enjoy cooking it (this dish being the exception to the rule)!

For those that like their curries mild and aromatic – this is the one. Beautifully subtle with a noticeable kick of chilli. It is light yet rich and incredibly versatile – you are free to go wild on the choice of vegetables. Despite the terrifying number of ingredients it is surprisingly simple.

(It would work wonderfully with seafood and chicken too!)

Vegetable Curry

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the spice blend: 10 Cardamom Pods, 4 tsp Ground Coriander, 2 tsp Cumin Seeds, 1 inch Cinnamon Stick, 20 Black Peppercorns, 1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds, 5 Cloves

For the curry base: 2 tbsp Veg Oil, Large Piece Ginger (Finely Chopped), 2 Garlic Cloves (Finely Chopped), 2 Medium Red Chillies (Seeds Removed and Chopped), 2 Medium Onions (Chopped), 2 Bay Leaves, Sea Salt

To Finish: 2 Courgettes (Diced), 2 Medium Aubergines (Diced), 1/2 Large Cauliflower (Cut into Florets), 100g Button Mushrooms (Halved), 150g Cherry Tomatoes (Halved), 2 Tins Coconut Milk, 1 Cup Hot Water, Juice 1 Lime, Handful Coriander Leaves (Chopped), Sea Salt

Method:

1) Make the spice blend by toasting all of the spices in a dry pan on low for 5 minutes. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder.

2) Begin the curry by sweating the spice mix with the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli in the veg oil for 5 minutes.

3) Add the coconut milk and hot water and allow to come to a simmer. Add all of the prepared vegetables except the tomatoes and cover. Cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked. Remember to stir occasionally.

4) Stir through the tomatoes, lime juice and coriander and season to taste before serving.

Best served with basmati rice and chapatis. Enjoy!

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Cooking Vegetables

 

This is a most rewarding method of cooking young, tender vegetables – retaining their crunch and vibrance often lost when boiling or steaming. Nothing bothers me more than limp, dull, mis-treated vegetables.

I feel boiling should be saved only for the hardest or oldest of vegetables and potatoes. Cooking young and tender varieties (especially green) in a big pot of boiling water tends to dilute their flavour and renders their colour insipid. By cooking the vegetables for a short while, in a little butter, water and seasoning you can be sure that all of those wonderful fresh flavours and colours are kept locked in.

Prepare your vegetables in the usual fashion; however, cut harder varieties into smaller pieces and leave those which are tender mostly whole or in larger pieces. The directions below are based on enough vegetables to feed four.

Place the vegetables in an appropriately sized saucepan with a large knob of butter. Season generously with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add a good splash of cold water (around 1/4 to 1/2 a cup).

Place the saucepan on a high heat and cover. Cook for anything from 1 minute for very tender vegetables to 3-4 minutes for harder varieties. Thinly sliced carrots and broccoli will generally take around 3 minutes, courgette and asparagus 2 minutes.

Once ready, toss with a handful of finely chopped parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve the vegetables basted with the cooking liquor.

Enjoy!

Summer Vegetable Risotto

Stock-based risottos are delicious but they do tend to be a little on the heavy side for this time of year – especially when I get a little over-eager with the parmesan!

In one of his recent TV series, Raymond Blanc explored the virtues of using a tomato essence to form the basis of a risotto. Tomato essence takes time and patience to get just right, two things which I don’t really have much of! But using this technique produces a very light and pure risotto which is perfect for showing off the qualities of fresh summer vegetables.

As opposed to making a pure tomato essence, which needs to be left hanging for ages in the fridge, taking up vital space, I have developed this recipe using a quicker method. Although not quite as pure, it still achieves the same result and depth of flavour.

Perfect for mid-week suppers, you can also make the essence a few days in advance and keep it covered in the fridge. Using carnaroli rice gives a much more velvety and luxurious texture than Arborio and is my first choice every time.

Summer Vegetable Risotto

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For Tomato Essence: 1kg Cherry Tomatoes, 1 Celery Stick, 1 Chopped Shallot, Handful of Basil Leaves, 1/2 Garlic Clove, Salt

For the Risotto Base: 350g Carnaroli Rice, 1 Onion Finely Chopped, 1 Garlic Clove Finely Chopped, 600ml Very Weak Vegetable Stock, Reserved Tomato Essence, White Pepper, Salt

To Finish: 30g Grated Parmesan, 1tbsp Unsalted Butter, 2tbsp Mascarpone, 75g Fresh Peas, 75g Broad Beans, 1 Carrot Finely Diced, 1 Courgette Finely Diced

Method:

To Make the Essence:

1) Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Season lightly with salt. Leave to settle in the fridge for 2 hours.

2) Press through a sieve to extract the juice. You should get around 600ml of Juice.

For the Risotto Base:

1) Sweat the onion and garlic in a little oil for 5 minutes. Add the carnaroli rice and fry until translucent (around 5 minutes).

2) Season the risotto with approximately 2tsp ground white pepper (or to taste) and a little salt.

3) Add the vegetable stock and cook on a low heat until the rice has soaked up the stock. Stir occasionally during this stage.

4) Once all the stock has been soaked up add the tomato essence. Continue to stir occasionally.

5) When the risotto is around 5 minutes from being ‘done’ continue to the finishing stage – there should still be a little essence left, if not add a little water.

To Finish:

1) Stir in the vegetables and allow to cook until al dente (approximately 5 minutes). Stir frequently during this stage.

2) Quickly fold in the butter, parmesan and mascarpone. Once the butter has melted and is combined, serve immediately.

This recipe works equally as well with any other summer vegetables – especially fennel. Enjoy!