Nothing derails a food blog quite like a virus attacking the GI systems of the toddlers in the house. Not only are they sick— which is a time suck as they suddenly insist on being held 24 hours a day —and unable to eat what you cook, BUT they also are irrational and crabby, which leads to the rest of the household furtively nibbling on processed junk food in the corners, hoping desperately their kids cannot see them. To be fair, Alex at age 3 is much more reasonable than she was a year ago—when we ended up in the ER for dehydration because being unable to eat made her so mad that she refused water—which of course made her sicker, until she could not even remember why she was refusing the water, she just knew it was The Enemy. THAT was a fun week.
We did not have a repeat of that I am happy to say, but I have not cooked since her birthday party. It just seems mean somehow. Everytime she sees one of us eating something she cannot have, she asks why and needs it explained all over again. So, like I said, furtive nibbling….
So thank goodness she was cleared for normal foods yesterday and we returned to cooking today. I have a fabulous dessert to share later this weekend, but first this wonderful vegetarian curry. It comes from a real gem of a book called Home Cooking Around The World by David Ricketts. I have never heard of the author; I picked this book up on overstock clearance at a used bookstore for around $10 and this is the second winner I have made from it. The first was French Canadian Sausage & Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese, which we also loved. The book focuses on international versions of typical home cooking–for example different variations on tuna noodle casseroles or pot roast. Maybe not super authentic, but so far quite tasty and at least reasonably traditional. So if you see this book for sale somewhere cheap and aren’t sure what to make of it, I recommend picking it up.
This dish is a SW Indian curry; southern Indian curries tend to be very different from what we see in Indian restaurants here in the States and might even remind you of Indonesian or Thai cooking, especially in their use of coconut milk. John and I struggle sometimes with the non-Thai uses of coconut milk because it sometimes tastes bland to us without the fish sauce and sugar.
Not this time.
This was fabulous and fabulously easy and fabulously different. I’m not sure about its protein content as a main dish—I have some weird built-in prejudice against vegetarian dishes without beans, lentils or chickpeas. I tend to forget that potatoes, peas and green beans are probably all good sources of protein as well. But because of my biases, I served this with leftover Spiced Chickpeas and Roasted Onions on Local Greens.
Anyway, this dish uses yogurt to flavor the coconut milk, and that plus some spices and salt is more than enough to pack some good flavor. Plus I was careful to use fresh vegetables and not overcook them. This is a very fast curry—no long stewing or braising here. In deference to the season I also added garlic scapes, a wonderful source of additional flavor so I guess I cannot vouch for the dish without them. The original recipe calls for chopped star fruit (carambola) on top of it, but since I had none and I had some mango waiting to be used, I served it with mango and a squirt of lime juice, since I think star fruit is more tart than mango.
This Indian Vegetable Curry with Coconut Milk and Yogurt is my submission to Kalyn’s Weekend Herb Blogging. This week it is hosted by Joanna’s Food.
Indian Vegetable Curry with Coconut Milk and Yogurt
Adapted from Home Cooking Around The World by David Ricketts
3 baby redskin potatoes (or equivalent thin-skinned potato when redskins are not in season), cut into 1 inch chunks
2 medium carrots or equivalent baby carrots (I used local true baby carrots and did not slice them), sliced into ½ inch rounds
1 medium-large sweet potato, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 large handful green beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
½ sweet bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup frozen (or fresh) peas
¾ cup cold water
1 ½ t turmeric
1 ½ t curry powder
1 ½ t freshly ground cumin
1-2 hot green chile peppers, seeded and minced
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup plain yogurt (non fat is fine if you are using full fat coconut milk)
1 t salt
Fruit for garnish (star fruit or mango with lime juice, see above)
In a large dutch oven, turn on the heat and add the 2 potatoes (and carrots if you like them well cooked). Whisk together the cold water, minced chile pepper, turmeric, curry powder and cumin, and then add it to the dutch oven. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. When the potatoes are almost tender, add the green beans, carrots (if you like them crispy, as I do), bell pepper and garlic scapes. Cover again and simmer for 5-10 minutes more, until potatoes are fork tender.
Whisk together the coconut milk and yogurt; set aside. When the potatoes are tender, add the coconut milk/yogurt mixture and stir. Bring to a simmer; simmer with the lid off for 5 minutes or so if the mixture is too runny (Ricketts says this dish has very little sauce but we preferred it saucy). Right before serving, add the peas and heat through.
Garnish with some sort of chopped sweet/tart fruit. Serve with basmati rice or flatbread.