Curry has been on my dinner rotation quite often lately. Maybe you tried the eggplant one I shared with you recently. Well here’s another take on this versatile dish and a little more info on how to make it your own.
What is curry you ask? I made a vegetable curry with some kids at Grace Church in Rutland the other evening and I asked them the same question. I was impressed with their responses, as well as their enthusiasm to try everything as I chopped up the vegetables. And they were eager to chat about some of the foods they cook at home. Keep cooking guys and awesome job parents!
They said curry is a spice, a sauce and vegetables. And that’s pretty much accurate. Curry can refer to the dish itself. In this instance, curry means the sauce, vegetables and whatever else that make up the dish. Curry can also refer to a spice blend, made up of a number of different spices. Curry blends might include coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, red pepper, cinnamon, cloves, mustard seeds, or garlic. And third, curry is a leaf from a curry tree.
People often think that curry is spicy, and this isn’t always true. The powdered spice labeled simply as “curry” in stores is actually often on the sweet side. But there are many other varieties with a bit more kick available. You can also make your own if you have spices you want to use up and want to control the heat. I like Alton Brown’s basic curry spice, but suggest toasting the spices before grinding to really bring out their flavor.
Often, I use a paste, like the one pictured here. I don’t use too many condiment-like products in my cooking, but this is one I don’t mind buying rather than making. I have made it before but found it doesn’t keep as nicely. If you want to give it a go, here’s the one I tried. It’s vaguely similar to the dry spice mix but has some fresh ingredients, like chiles, garlic, tomatoes and vinegar in addition to the spices. You can find both Indian and Thai pastes, in varying heat levels, available in most stores. I find they keep well for some time in the fridge.
This time, I used a mix of veggies that I had hanging around, which having just finished clearing out the very last of my community garden plot, is quite a few. It’s that time of year when there seems to be a mix of everything with fall crops now here. Broccoli, beans, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are just a few popping up back at market. What’s great with this recipe, is that you can sub in the veggies you like no matter the time of year.
Here’s everything that went in the curry. Leeks, cauliflower, cooked winter squash, corn I had frozen from the summer, and a red pepper. That tomato never actually made it.
Tofu was my protein of choice. And coconut milk made for a nice sauce to the dish. It also makes this more of a Thai curry than Indian.
I start with the leeks then add in the peppers and the paste mixed with just a little of the milk. After a few minutes in goes the tofu, milk and cauliflower then the corn and squash.
It doesn’t take long for everything to come together in a vegetable curry – another reason why I’ve been making it so often. It’s quick and I can use whatever I like. By keeping curry paste (or spice) on hand and a few cans (or a carton) of coconut milk, I know I can make this at any time of the year and even last minute.
While everything finishes up, I chop some fresh parsley and toast a little coconut. And you’re done.
These are the ingredients I used this time. Next time, I know it will be different. So just use this as a guide and aim for 6 cups veg with the optional addition of 16oz protein.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 leeks, sliced and rinsed
- 1 small red pepper, chopped
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons curry paste or powder
- 2 cups chopped cauliflower
- 16 ounces cubed tofu
- 1 cup corn
- 1 1/2 cups cooked, cubed winter squash
- chopped parsley for serving (optional)
- toasted coconut for serving (optional)
- chopped cashews for serving (optional)
- Heat the oil in a good sized pot over medium heat.
- Add in the leeks and cook 2 minutes before tossing in the pepper and the curry paste mixed with just a splash of the coconut milk.
- After 2 more minutes add in the cauliflower, tofu and the rest of the milk.
- Bring to a simmer and cook 8-10 minutes, stirring once in awhile, then add the squash and corn to the pot.
- Cook 5 more minutes then top with the parsley, coconut and/or cashews and serve.