Recipe: Warming Coconut & Cumin Curry

This is such a delicious vegan curry and though there are quite a few ingredients (isn’t it always the way with a curry) lots of them are things you will probably have in your store cupboard or at the bottom of the fridge. I always seem to have ginger lurking in my fruit bowl as I seem incapable of buying the amount I need. Incidentally, ginger freezes really well and you can peel and grate it straight from the freezer – it grates even more easily than when it’s fresh. Though in this case you are putting it in the food processor anyway.

If you don’t have all the spices required then don’t worry, just use what you have or leave some of them out – though the cumin is pretty much non negotiable. The garam masala can be replaced with curry powder or if you are feeling adventurous then why not make your own garam masala – there is a great recipe on the BBC website here. I’ve included fresh chilli in the recipe below but I often leave it out now that I have small children to feed. If you don’t have fresh chillies then add in some chilli powder with the other dried spices.

I’ve used butternut squash and cauliflower in this version but lots of other chunky Winter vegetables would work really well – carrots, parsnips, pumpkin, sweet potato, broccoli, chunky rounds of leek – feel free to experiment and use what you have. This recipe is for 4-6 but I often double it as it freezes well and is one of those dishes that tastes even better on the second and third day. We has it for dinner with rice a few days ago and then have been eating a bowl for lunch just with a piece of bread for the last three days. I made a sort of quick naan bread that uses plain flour and doesn’t require yeast – pretty useful in these times of flour shortages – the recipe (adapted from Anjum Anand) is on my website here

Serves 4-6 (depending on portion size)

650g butternut squash (chopped into bitesize chunks)
350g cauliflower (chopped into large florets) Or replace squash and cauliflower with a mix of other chunky winter vegetables of the same weight – see note above
Rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
Salt & pepper
1 white onion (roughly chopped)
30g fresh ginger (peeled and roughly chopped)
2 fat garlic cloves (peeled and roughly chopped)
2 red chillies (chopped, taste the chilli and deseed if very hot)
2 tsps garam masala (or curry powder)
½ tsp turmeric (or you can use fresh and add to the ginger and garlic paste)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
300g potatoes (chopped into bitesize chunks, no need to peel – waxy if possible but it also works great with floury potatoes which is all I had this time)
1 tin chickpeas (280g drained weight, drained and rinsed)
400ml coconut milk
200ml vegetable stock
100g spinach or another leafy green such as chard, young kale leaves, savoy cabbage
1/2 lime

To serve – some of the following: rice, naan bread, fresh coriander, toasted pumpkin seeds, yogurt, lime pickle, mango chutney

Preheat the oven to 200° Celsius.

Put the squash on a baking tray and the cauliflower florets on a baking tray. Drizzle the oil over both, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with cumin seeds. Mix well. Put the squash and cauliflower in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until a little bit charred round the edge but still al dente.

Put the onion, ginger, garlic and red chilli (if using) in a food processor and blend to a paste. If you don’t have a food processor you can use a mortar and pestle or just really finely chop everything.

Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large pan and fry the paste for a couple of minutes with ½ teaspoon salt. Add the rest of the spices and a good grind of black pepper and cook for another minute.

Stir in the chickpeas and the potatoes until coated in the spices and the paste. Add the coconut milk and the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just cooked.

Add in the roasted vegetables. Stir in the greens until they are just wilting in the warm curry.

Taste to check the seasoning and add more salt or pepper if required. Add lime juice to taste just before serving.

Serve on rice or with naan bread with some of the toppings suggested above. Yoghurt and toasted pumpkin seeds are particularly yummy with it.

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