August 17, 2014 by josie100olives
This recent comment from a good friend of mine pretty much nails it –
‘Bad day. Curry. Better.’
Says it all really.
Having a had that kind of week myself (and one which did not allow for menu planning and/or weeknight shopping) curry was my obvious choice for FND.
Curry is fast, there are lots of good vegetarian options and I always have ingredients on hand. I do have a rather excessive spice collection though. This is due to my need to be able to make any curry recipe in any book at any given time. It’s not normal, I know.
On the menu this week were two old favourites – Davinder Bedi’s chicken achari and cauliflower coconut curry.
The achari recipe by Melbourne restaurateur Davinder Bedi is one I found online more than five years ago (when we still lived in Queensland) and have made regularly ever since. Ironically, we now live around the corner from Bedi’s Restaurant, and the achari isn’t on the menu!
I use mustard seeds instead of the oil called for in the recipe, and if you don’t have the amchur powder, you could use something similarly sour – tamarind paste would work well, as would simply adding a good squeeze of lemon. I’ve also left out the fenugreek seeds before – it’s not quite the same, so get some if you can.
The cauliflower curry is from hands down the best curry cookbook I own, which was purchased for the princely sum of $15 in a Borders sale. This curry is a good one if you have vegans to feed, as the creaminess comes from coconut milk rather than dairy. I add chickpeas and spinach to make it more filling and up the nutritional content. Pretty much any veggies play happily in this dish, so use what you’ve got. Another thing I like about this curry is that it contains no onions, garlic or ginger. Some people can’t eat/don’t like them and it can be hard to find recipes without these ingredients. Also, sometimes you just don’t want to chop ’em. This freezes well too, so good for lunches.
We served the curries with steamed rice, roti, kachumber salad (diced red onion, tomato, cucumber and coriander doused in lemon juice) mint raita and homemade Goan eggplant pickle
Cauliflower Coconut Curry
1 tbsp chickpea/besan flour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2-1 tsp chilli powder or flakes (optional and to taste depending on your heat tolerance)
1 tbsp (yes, tablespoon) ground coriander
2 tbsp oil (I use coconut oil for the flavour)
8-10 curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 cup coconut milk
1 tin chickpeas, drained
2 blocks of frozen spinach (or 2-3 large handfuls of fresh)
Juice of 1/2 -1 lemon
Salt to taste (I find it needs quite a lot – sometimes more than a teaspoon, but taste as you go)
Mix the chickpea flour, turmeric, cumin, chilli flakes and coriander with 1/2 cup water in a small bowl and set aside*. Heat oil in a large pot until shimmering and add curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds. Once the curry leaves have darkened and the seeds start to pop (careful not to burn them or they will taste bitter) add the spice and water mixture and turn the heat down a bit. This will start to bubble and thicken quite quickly, so keep stirring to prevent it sticking and add water as needed to keep it at a saucy texture – a bit like thick gravy – and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped cauliflower and chickpeas and stir to coat in the sauce, then add the coconut milk. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 8-10 min or until the cauliflower is almost tender (sometimes this seems to take ages, other times, not that long). Add the frozen spinach and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve with rice or roti.
*Note: I always keep a bag of besan flour in my freezer, where it keeps for ages. If you don’t have any besan flour, you can leave it out and reduce the water to 1-2 tbsp. However, this is what helps the sauce to thicken, so you may find the end result is more watery. Using regular flour might work as a substitute, but I have never tried. If you do, let me know in the comments how it goes.