Curry - It isn't much to look at, but heavens it's tasty!
Here in California the next months are not the most exciting when it comes to the fresh vegetables available at our local farmers markets. We get every variety of cabbage and root vegetables. That's about it. The upside is that cabbages and cauliflowers are so abundant that I can get one as big as my head for about $1.50 (See profile picture). That makes these vegetables an official major ingredient of this season's meals for a jobless recovery.
In my book, cauliflower, potatoes and cold weather make this the time for curry. I like to make enough to supply our lunches and dinners for a week.
The first curries in my life came from our East Indian neighbors when I was about three and TVs were black and white. The mom next door spent hours roasting and mixing all sorts of spices to make the perfect curry. She claimed her mother taught her how to make curry over years of slaving in a hot kitchen. After growing up with that, I figured I would never have curries at home. I was thrilled in the late 1970s when East Indian restaurants began showing up even in small Midwestern cities.
My work moved me to the London, UK area in the early 1990s. The Downs and Wealds Ramblers and the regulars at the local pub had the occasional curry at the East Indian place on the high street. Some of my coworkers were in the habit of making suppers of eggs and home made curry for their families. That caught my attention. They used curry paste sold in jars. The store-bought pastes made pretty decent curry. In fact, these suppers and the occasional toasted cheese sandwich were the only encounters with British home cooking I can honestly admit to having enjoyed.
If the British can make decent curry at home, so can you.
Patak's Curry Paste –The Miracle Ingredient
Patak's produces a variety of curry pastes. I like them all, however I avoid the “hot” varieties. For my tastes any of the “medium” flavors give curries enough rich flavor and heat. The pastes come in 10 oz bottles that will make about three 1 gallon batches of vegetable curry. That qualifies as cheap enough for our jobless recovery.
I usually find the pastes available for well under five dollars at local super markets. If your supermarket doesn't carry Patak's pastes, almost every East Indian or Pakistani specialty Grocery I've seen carries this. I've also found Patak's in a few Middle eastern Grocery stores.
Winter Vegetable Curry For Dummies
This recipe will produce a curry that is not soupy. You can add an extra can of tomatoes & juice if you like it soupier. Admittedly, this recipe is probably more British than Indian.
One large cauliflower (see my profile picture, I mean large)
About 2 lbs peeled potatoes (I use big and cheap Russets)
One pound frozen peas (this is a British recipe, after all)
One large onion
One “nearly 16 oz” can of chopped tomatoes in juice (use two cans for a soupier curry)
1/3 cup One of Patak's curry pastes (use a little more for more “warmth”)
This preparation makes a bit of a mess. I recommend cleaning pots and utensils as soon as you're finished using them. Otherwise, you'll be faced with three large dirty pots when you're done. That's just a drag.
Cut the cauliflower and potatoes in to larger bite-sized pieces.
Steam the cauliflower and boil the potatoes until tender. Set these aside.
Thaw the peas in the microwave. It's OK if they cook a little.
Dice the onion finely and saute in the oil. Use a large soup pot for this.
Add the curry paste when the onion is almost tender. Increase the heat and stir for a few minutes. Enjoy the aroma as you stir.
Add the tomatoes and juice. Stir until they form a sauce.
Add the other vegetables. Stir until the sauce coats every piece.
Simmer for 15 minute to ½ hour.
You can try a couple of Variations:
You can leave out the potatoes and serve your curry over rice.
You can enjoy your curry with a poached, hard-boiled, or fried egg on top. I recall a warm boiled egg on top was popular with my crowd in Britain.
The same method will work for any variety of vegetable.
Go forth and enjoy!