Monday, 23 March 2015

Starting off #MeatFreeWeek with Aubergine, Sweet Potato and Spinach Coconut Curry

Curries are my favourite things to cook as you can pretty much whack anything in and they're bound to taste good! They're also very simple and cost effective when you have all the spices and bits stocked up in the cupboard, as well as being much healthier than buying pre-made sauces. My essential spices for curries are coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cardamon pods, turmeric, paprika and curry powder. I tend to keep chillies in the freezer so that they're available when I needed and don't bother to defrost them. The sweet potato can always be swapped for butternut squash, and the aubergine can be changed to courgette - and the good thing about curries is it doesn't matter what vegetables you use. Don't be afraid to experiment.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

- 1 aubergine, sliced into similar sized chunks
- 3 sweet potatoes, washed and cut into pieces (a little smaller than the aubergine) with their skins on 
- 2 handfuls of spinach
- 1 handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/2 thumb of grated fresh ginger (optional)
- a big dash of white wine * Probably very unusual in a curry, but I like using it. Red and rose is also fine *
- 400g tin of coconut milk
- 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
- 1 red chilli, thinly sliced with or without seeds depending on taste
- 2 tsp mango chutney
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 4 cardamon pods, seeds removed and shells discarded
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp garam masala (optional)
- a handful of fresh coriander, chopped (optional)

1. Start by cooking the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger in a pan with a little vegetable oil or coconut oil. 

2. Once the onion starts to brown, pour in the dash of wine - which should sizzle. Then add the sweet potato and aubergine. Stir frequently for a few minutes and don't let the vegetables burn.

3. Once the wine has evaporated away (after a few minutes - no need to count though), add the tin of coconut milk and chopped tomatoes and stir to combine. 

4. Boil the kettle and fill the empty coconut tin with 1/2 water and the stock cube. Put aside for a few minutes. 

5. Let the vegetables cook on a medium heat for around 5 minutes, and then add the stock from the tin. * Don't worry if the stock cube hasn't completely dissolved, it should continue to dissolve in the pan * Continue to cook your curry for a further 5 minutes.

6. Whilst the veg is cooking, in a saucepan, add a little vegetable/sunflower oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds which should spit a little and start to crack. In a pestle and mortar, grind the cardamon and coriander seeds together until crushed. Add these in with the mustard seeds for 20 seconds or so. Then pour the seeds into your curry, along with all the other curry spices and the mango chutney. * I don't usually measure my spices, I just dash a bit in - so don't be afraid to do the same! *

7. Let the curry cook for a further 10-15 minutes without a lid, to let the juices boil down, until the sweet potato is ready. Taste is and see if it needs more of anything. If it isn't spicy enough for you, add some chilli flakes, if something is missing, maybe add some chopped coriander, more mango chutney or curry powder. 

8. Finally, put in the spinach and finish the dish off for a few minutes, stirring frequently. 

* Serve with rice, yoghurt, or flat bread. If you're feeling adventurous, you could poach some white fish in turmeric and cardamon pod water for around 4 a treat! *

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