Sunday, 13 May 2012

Curry and comfort

Unfortunately, this weekend I've come down with some kind of horrible disease. Perhaps that's an exaggeration - but  anyway, I have a sore throat, headache, temperature and am generally feeling rather sorry for myself. But bear with me, as there's a reason for the 'pity me' tirade.

Namely... comfort food. For me, anything a little bit stew-y and spicy fits into the comfort food category, especially when it's loaded with healthy, nutritious ingredients. Which brings me right back to curry. We eat rather a lot of curry at home, but I suppose we've fallen into a bit of a rut with it, not experiementing as much as we should. But last weekend as a pre-birthday treat for my Dad, we went to the rather wonderful Coriander restaurant. No fuss, just great food, made from sensible ingredients. I felt like I was falling in love with curry all over again.

So, when I started feeling the onset of a nasty sore throat, and inspired by the outing, I decided to put together a delicious, comforting massala, using aubergine, cauliflower, and potato. Simple, healthy and delicious, and served with fragrant pilau rice.

Aubergine and Cauliflower Massala
Serves 6

2 aubergines
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large cauliflower, separated into florets
6-8 medium potatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp chilli flakes or one red chilli
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
2 dessert spoons of tomato puree
2 tsp garam massala
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cloves
1 green cardamom pod
2 cups of water
3 tblsp sunflower oil

1. Chop the aubergines in half and half again, lengthways. Dry fry them in a non-stick frying pan, until each cut edge takes on a charred appearance. When they are done, set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, fry off the fenugreek, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds over a medium heat until the seeds start to pop. At this point add in the chopped onion, stir for a couple of minutes, then add in the garlic and chilli, stirring periodically for another minute. Then add in the potato and the tomato puree, stirring periodically for about 5 minutes.

3. In the non-stick pan, dry fry the cloves and the cardamom pod for 30 seconds to a minute, moving continuously. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and finely crush, discarding the cardamom pod and retaining only the seeds. Add this powder, and the rest of the spices to the potato mixture and mix thoroughly.

4. Add a cup of water to the curry mixture, and allow to simmer gently for another 5 minutes. After this time, most of the water will have been absorbed. Add in the cauliflower, mix thoroughly, and after about 5 minutes add another cup of water, together with the tinned tomatoes. simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender.

5. Chop each of the lengths of aubergine into 3-4 pieces, add into the curry mixture, and gently stir in. Allow to simmer for another 3-4 minutes. If the curry is too hot, add 1/4 cup of milk or soya milk. Serve with a good helping of pilau rice.

Fragrant Pilau Rice
Serves 2-6

1 teacup of basmati rice per person
2 teacups of freshly boiled water per person
4-6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
seeeds from 3-5 green cardamom pods
seeds from 1 black cardamom pod
1/2 tsp - 1tsp turmeric
1 bay leaf

1. Put all of the ingredients together in a saucepan and bring up to the boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes, then turn off the heat, put a lid on the pan, and leave it over the warm.

2. Wait for about 15 minutes, after which time the rice should be ready to serve.

Aubergine and cauliflower massala with pilau rice

As with most curries, this tastes even better on the second day, which is perfect if you're still feeling grotty!

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