Sweet potato, cauliflower and chickpea curry
My food tastes always change with the seasons and it’s no different when I’m cooking with spices. In summer, I crave fresh citrus and herb flavours with plenty of chilli heat – Thai, Vietnamese or Mexican flavours really hit the spot when the sun is out. But at this time of year I want mellow, mild and warming dishes, something gently spiced and comforting to come home to at the end of a cold day. I want cumin, cinnamon, allspice, sweet tomatoes and coconut to make a warming Moroccan tagine or a thick, rich curry.
This is my basic winter curry recipe. I normally have all of the ingredients to hand in the cupboard although I change the veg depending on what I have in the fridge. The backbone of this is cauliflower and sweet potato or squash, but I might add red peppers, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, lentils….whatever needs using up. I always have tinned tomatoes, chickpeas and coconut milk in the cupboard, so I can make this without any real planning ahead.
Start by toasting 1 tbsp cumin seeds and 1 tsp coriander seeds in a dry frying pan, just for a minute or so until they smell toasty and aromatic. Tip them into a pestle and mortar and grind. Add 1 tsp black mustard seeds, 1 tsp ground turmeric and about a dozen dried curry leaves.
Peel and finely chop a large red onion and fry in a little oil over a gentle heat until soft and lightly golden brown. Crush 4 cloves of garlic and add these to the pan, along with about 3-4 cm grated fresh ginger. Tip in the spices and stir for a couple of minutes to start bringing out their flavours.
Add to the pan a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes and 200ml vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile peel a couple of medium sized sweet potatoes and cut into 1cm dice and cut a small cauliflower into florets. Add to the sauce, season with some salt, then pop a lid on and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are just tender. Then add 200ml coconut milk, a 400g tin of chickpeas and 1-2tsp garam masala to taste and bring back to a simmer. When you’re ready to serve, add a couple of handfuls of spinach and allow to wilt for a minute and sprinkle over some chopped coriander leaves.
I like this with warm naan bread and some yogurt with a little chopped spring onion stirred through. Like all dishes like this, it keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days and the flavours will only improve in this time.
Serves 4, takes about 45mins.
1tbsp cumin seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp black mustard seeds
12 small dried curry leaves
1tsp garam masala
1 large red onion
About 4cm fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 small cauliflower
about 100g spinach
A small bunch fresh coriander
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g tin chickpeas
200ml coconut milk
200ml vegetable stock (I just used powdered)