Inspired by the wonderful new potatoes I received this week from the CSA and some onions, baby cauliflower and sweet peas I picked up at GJ Farms down the road from me (on No. 4 Road south of Steveston Hwy in Richmond), I decided to make one of my favourite curries. It was a hectic dinner that came together in under an hour, start to finish and all the super fresh ingredients made it super tasty. I love to cook indian food and have learned quite a bit over the years from Ravi’s family and books. The secret really is to use the freshest ingredients possible. It may seem like grating fresh ginger, garlic and tomatoes are time consuming but trust me it really doesn’t take that much time once you are in the swing of things and the finished product is well worth your effort. The commercially sold ginger garlic pastes are full of preservatives and you can taste that when eating indian food out… yuck!
I served this with some fresh yogurt (made a few days earlier) and quinoa instead of rice for a nice change. As I mentioned, don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, it all comes together very quickly. I will write a separate blog post about spices another time as there is a lot to say when it comes to indian cooking.
So here is the recipe…
2 tablespoons of grapeseed or canola oil
1 lb of new potatoes (red, yellow or mix) cubed into 1″ pcs
1/2 medium sized head of cauliflower – chopped into 1″ pcs ( approx 2 cups )
2 medium sized onions- chopped
1 tablespoon of grated ginger (i use the fine grate on my box grater for this)
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, whole
1 whole chili (serrano or jalepeno- can use 2 chilies if you like it really spicy)
2 cups of grated fresh tomato (I find the quickest way to do this is to cut the tomato in half and use the regular size grate on my box grater for this and discard the skins)- if you don’t have fresh tomato you can also use 1 cup of pureed canned tomatoes – in the winter when the tomatoes are expensive and lack flavour, I usually prefer to use the glass jars of the tomato passata.
1 tablespoon of kosher/sea salt
1 teaspoon of cumin coriander powder (sold in Indian grocery stores as Dhanna Jeera powder)
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1/4 teaspoon of tumeric
Juice of 1 small lemon – use less if you like it less tangy
1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
More salt as needed to taste
Also because I had fresh peas on hand- I added 1/3 cup of fresh shelled peas (optional).
In a large heavy pot heat oil on medium high heat for a minute and add cumin seeds and chili and stir for 1 minute or until the cumin starts to pop. Add the chopped onions and lower heat to medium. Cook, stirring often until the onions become a golden to dark brown and papery thin. Add the grated ginger and garlic, the salt, the cumin coriander powder, garam masala and tumeric and stir for half a minute. Add the grated tomato (or canned pureed tomatoes) and let simmer for about 5 minutes until you have a nice sauce and the curry has turned a dark red/brown (Note: This process up to this point as described is basically the start to most Gurjarati and Punjabi curries:).
Add the potatoes along with 3/4 cup of water and stir. Reduce to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot, for about 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Also if you need to add a bit more water here and there to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pan, add a little more at a time as needed. (This weeks potatoes were so tender – super quick to cook!)
Add the cauliflower and peas (if using) and simmer for another 5 minutes (I like my cauliflower slightly crunchy, but if you like it softer, then cook for longer). Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, cilantro leaves and more salt (to taste). Indian food really needs lots of salt to balance and enhance the flavors of the spices, chili, lemon, so don’t be shy about adding more salt.
Serve with yogurt, rice or quinoa or naan or roti… whatever you like.