Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pantry in Action: Weeknight Curry

The "Pantry in Action" series shows creative ways of using all the wonderful food we've preserved during the year.  I will include recipes wherever appropriate with links back to the post(s) where a particular ingredient (or ingredients) was canned.

This is a variation on my beans, greens and grains bowl from a couple of posts back and utilizes a couple of my pantry staples: canned diced tomatoes and tomato paste.  You can find the recipe here.

Every once in a while, I will get a craving for curry and since it's been a while since I last had some, I started thinking about tweaks I could make to my beans, greens and grains bowl to create a curry that was fairly easy to whip up on a weeknight after a long day at work.

So, I'm following a similar method but changing up the ingredients to include:

  • onions, garlic, celery and carrots as my aromatics 
  • a white potato and 6 sliced white mushrooms for added body
  • 1 can of chickpeas and 1 can of navy beans because that's what was in the cupboard
  • curly kale as my greens
  • quinoa as my grain (yes, rice would be more authentic, but I used that last time)
  • something vaguely "Indian-esque" for the seasonings (including curry, of course!)
I started as before by rinsing the beans and leaving them to drip drain in a colander while I prepped the vegetables.  I peeled a few cloves of garlic and peeled and quartered a medium white onion then blitzed them together in the food processor until they were roughly chopped.  I diced 3 medium carrots, 3 ribs of celery and the unpeeled potato into about ½-inch pieces and cut out the center rib from each of the kale leaves and chopped them into ½-inch pieces as well.

Since quinoa cooks much quicker than brown rice, I left it until now to start it.  Using my usual ratio of 2 parts liquid to 1 part grain, I started 1½ cups of white quinoa cooking in 3 cups of vegetable stock.

Like cooking rice, I let it come to a full boil, then moved it onto the smallest hob turned down to the lowest setting, covered the pot and left it undisturbed while I completed the curry.

I started making the curry by first cooking up a seasoning paste.  I sautéed the chopped onion and garlic in a little olive oil until translucent and then added a 125ml jar of my home canned tomato paste.

If you've never canned homemade tomato paste, I urge you to try it -- the results are so worth it!  Like applesauce, once you try homemade, you'll never go back to store-bought again.

So, I added the tomato paste and stirred it around with the onions and garlic for while until it was starting to caramelize a little and smelling heavenly.  Then (totally guesstimating), I added 2 tblsp. basic grocery store curry powder, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. ground coriander, and ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper and kept stirring until the spices were toasted and the whole thing turned into a stiff paste. After a quick taste-test, I decided it needed some salt and black pepper so I added a generous pinch of both and stirred them in.

Next, I added a jar of my canned diced tomatoes, mixed it well and brought it to a fast simmer before adding the chopped vegetables, stirring thoroughly and leaving it to simmer covered for about 10 minutes.

A quick check on the quinoa showed it was coming along nicely, but still had some liquid left to absorb, so I put the lid back on the pot and left it again while I tore the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces (not having the patience after a long day to chiffonade them).

That done, I added the beans to the vegetables along with a can of regular (not light) coconut milk, turned up the heat and brought it to a boil, then turned the heat back down to medium again, covered the pot and let it simmer for about another 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes or so, I piled the torn kale leaves in on top of the curry.  It pretty much filled up the pot, but the leaves really do cook down, so I turned the heat back up to bring it to boil, covering the pot, and leaving it to steam the leaves for about 5 minutes or so or until they turned bright green.

Once done, I stirred the steamed leaves down into the curry to finish cooking, turned the heat back down to medium again and let it simmer, covered for another 5 or 10 minutes.  While that was happening, I took the quinoa off the heat and fluffed it with a fork before serving it up topped with a couple of ladles of the finished curry.  A squeeze of fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro would be lovely, but I had neither this evening, so I did without.

It's very tasty, easy and quick enough to do on a weeknight and like any good curry, it doesn't assault your tastebuds, but builds up slowly with each mouthful.  The homemade tomato paste shines in this recipe and it, along with the coconut milk serve to mellow and smooth out the "curriness".

This might work well with the addition of chicken or shrimp, though I think if I went that route, I'd be tempted to add another can of coconut milk and maybe a cup or two of water or stock to increase the amount of sauce.

No comments:

Post a Comment