Up until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t had a haircut for 15 months. I was growing out a mistake, but it was getting out of hand. During the haircut, Karen, my new hairdresser, and I got chatting about cooking (naturally). Her boyfriend is a vegetarian and she said they were struggling to come up with satisfying winter vegetarian dishes.
I don’t know why there’s not a lot of hearty vegetarian recipes around. Some of my favourite vegetables are winter ones – jerusalem artichokes, celeriac, parsnips, sweet potatoes… Anyway, even before this conversation I’d been making a conscious effort to cook more winter meatless dishes, and this is the latest installment.
So, Karen if you do read my blog, this one’s for you, with my thanks for the best haircut I’ve ever had!
This curry is fresh, creamy without being unhealthy, and very tasty. It’s thickened with lentils, and the crushed cashew nuts and yoghurt give it a tangy creaminess and extra flavour dimension.
Give yourself an hour and a half to make this.
This makes a lot, about 6 serves.
- 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into about 5cm cubes.
- 3 other fresh vegetables of your choice: about 1-2 cups each (I used mushrooms, green beans and zucchinis)
- 1 red onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 piece of fresh ginger, about the size of two thumbs
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 4 cardamon pods, crushed a little
- 1-2 teaspoons chilli flakes depending on taste (one will be mild, two medium-hot)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 cup red lentils, washed
- 170 g organic firm tofu
- 100 g plain yoghurt
- 750 ml water
- 400 g tin tomatoes
- small bunch fresh coriander
- 150 grams unsalted roasted cashews (never eat raw cashews, they are toxic)
- Vegetable oil
The first step: do all your prep so it comes together quickly at the end. Prepare the sweet potato, and set aside. Wash, trim/peel and chop the other vegies. Chop the tofu into cubes and rinse the lentils. Wash and chop the coriander, and ground the cashew nuts until a fine crumb in the pestle and mortar, or food processor. If you have neither, you can put them in a strong plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin.
Make the curry paste. Put the chopped red onion, garlic cloves, and ginger in a food processor and pulse until a paste. You can add the spices here if you like. I prefer to add them to the pot, as I don’t like it when my food processor is stained yellow from the turmeric.
Heat some oil in a large heavy based pan and add the onion mixture. If you didn’t add the spices when processing, now add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, cardamon pods and chilli flakes and combine. Simmer for a minute or two to release the flavour, not too high a heat or it will burn.
Add the sweet potato, coat in the spice mixture and saute for a few minutes over a low-medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick, lentils, cashew nuts, tomatoes and 500 ml of the water, cover, and simmer for half an hour over a low heat, stirring a few times.
Add the vegetables, tofu, half the coriander, and yoghurt, and combine. Add the remaining water if it needs it. Return the lid and simmer for another 20 minutes, or longer if you want really soft vegetables.
Stir through the remaining coriander before serving. If having this for every day meals, I like it with brown rice to keep it super healthy. But if you’re making it for dinner guests, steamed basmati rice and some accompaniments like mango chutney, banana and coconut, and raita, would be lovely.