The Indian curry has risen through the ranks in British cuisine, bypassing traditional favourites such as Steak and Kidney Pie, Hotpot, Fish and Chips as well as Bangers and Mash, to emerge victorious as the nation’s favourite foodstuff of this millennium.
The dish, in any one of its many forms, is so successful that it even has its own celebratory occasion, National Curry Week, which is usually held every October. Originally conceived to raise money for Indian-based charities, the event, which celebrated its 14th outing in 2011, is also an acceptable excuse to indulge in Indian meals across the country.
The History of Indian Vegetarian Curry
Vegetarian curryThe good news for vegetarian lovers of this popular cuisine is that the majority of traditional dishes are inspired by a multitude of vegetables and fruits, rather than the meat which is much more widely used in the western world. In fact, carnivorous curry lovers travelling in the Far East would be more likely to encounter difficulties in their quest for a lamb korma, or a beef balti than they would a vegetarian option.
The name ‘curry’ can be applied to almost every dish created using a mixture of spices, so its origins are far from clear, but the use of these spices in the western world can, for Great Britain at least, be traced back as far as the days of Christopher Columbus. He was dispatched to seek out the exotic flavourings that had captured the attention of the English nobility, and establish a trade route that would keep them arriving in plentiful supply.
A traditional Indian curry is often made using a paste that is created from ground spices, and cooked in pans called Karahis, which resemble the oriental wok in appearance, and the oil can often be substituted by a fat product known as ghee, a form of clarified butter. Using different combinations of spices and herbs will produce different results, which is why there are so many choices on menus across the Western world.
Vegetarian curryTarkadahlRecipes for a vegetarian Indian curry are abundant, which means that there are numerous variations available for the home cook to try. Recipes vary in strength of flavour and heat, degrees of authenticity, and even variety of ingredients. The recipe below produces a fantastic, flavourful curry that is perfect served with dried fruit or unleavened bread, but also works very well as a base for other curries, using perhaps lentils, chickpeas or coconut milk to create different finished dishes to enjoy.This dish is best served with long grain white rice and naan.
To make this Indian vegetarian curry you will need:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp ghee (butter will work as an alternative)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
Half tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
1 tbsp ground fennel seeds
Half tsp mustard seeds
Half tsp cinnamon 1 tsp turmeric
Half tsp cayenne pepper
Fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
Salt and pepper
2 onions, chopped
3 potatoes, any variety cubed
3 carrots cubed
1 cauliflower, in florets
3 tomatoes, chopped
Half a cup of green beans or peas.
Half a pint of water
Step 1: Heat the pan (using a non stick wok works very well). Melt the butter and pour in the oil. Allow to heat.
Step 2: Add the mustard seeds and stir gently for a minute, before adding the remaining spices. Stir frequently for two minutes and do not allow to burn.
Step 3: Add the onions and fry until they are opaque.
Step 4: Add the carrots and simmer for a few minutes before adding the potato cubes and continuing to cook. When the carrots and potato have started to soften, add the cauliflower and coat well in the mixture.
Step 5: Add the water and allow to cook on a simmer until all the vegetables are cooked through. Add the tomatoes, and peas or beans, before leaving to simmer for another ten minutes.
Step 6: Check the water in the pan and do not allow to dry out. If the water becomes absorbed quickly, add a little more in stages to avoid pouring in too much.