Thursday, 12 January 2012

Lentil and Cauliflower Curry

A good vegetable curry is one of the basics that everyone should have in their culinary repertoire. As this recipe doesn't use ghee, yoghurt or paneer it is actually vegan. I prefer vegetable curries like this that use two or three key ingredients to those where you chuck in everything but the kitchen sink, which so often end up as generic vegetable sludge. I do like a few peas in a tomato-based curry though, for their little bursts of sweetness.

So many recipes for curry include an ingredients list as long as your arm, most of which are spices, added individually in precise measurements. I don't get too hung up on this and am happy to use a ready-made curry powder. Indian and Bangladeshi friends have assured me that they do the same. If you really feel bad about it, I recommend the blends sold in Asian food stores. Alternatively, customise a ready-made blend with a little extra of your favourite spice.

I used to loathe cauliflower, even as an adult. Perhaps I was traumatised by memories of soggy cauliflower cheese. Eating it in a curry was the first way that I found it palatable, and now I love it in all incarnations, but I think this is still my favourite way to eat it.

Lentil and Cauliflower Curry

Serves 2-3

·         Vegetable oil
·         2 onions, finely chopped
·         3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
·         1 tbsp decent curry powder or garam masala
·         A thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
·         1 red chilli, deseeded if you like and finely chopped (optional)
·         1 tin chopped tomatoes
·         A large pinch of sugar
·         1 tin green lentils, drained and rinsed
·         100ml water
·         1 small head of cauliflower
·         A small handful of frozen peas or pettis pois
·         A small bunch of coriander
·         Salt

1.    Over a fairly low heat, sweat the onions down in the oil with a little salt for 5 minutes or so. 

2.    Add the garlic, cover and continue to sweat down for 5-10 minutes, or until golden.

3.    Add the curry powder and cook out for a minute or so, then add the ginger and chilli, if using.

4.    Cook for another couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes, sugar, lentils, water and salt, to taste.

5.    Break the cauliflower into florets, cutting any large ones in half.

6.    Finely chop the coriander stalks then add to the curry along with the cauliflower. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is almost cooked to your liking. Stir in the peas and cook for another couple of minutes.

7.    Roughly chop the coriander leaves. Stir a little through the curry and serve with boiled basmati rice or chapatis, with the rest of the coriander sprinkled on top.

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