Friday, January 22, 2010

Curried Potato and Vegetables

This recipe is based on one originally given to me by the mother of an Indian friend from high school. I loved to eat her cooking and she gave me this recipe so I could cook my own vegetarian curry dish. This curry is gluten-free, vegan, and perfect for a cold and rainy evening.


3 tbsp. olive oil
½ onion, chopped (about ¾ cup) or 1½ tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. cumin seeds
1 15-ounce can stewed diced tomatoes (with no spices added)
4 cups potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups sliced carrots (not thin-sliced, more chunky)
1½ cups frozen peas
1 tbsp. turmeric (see note about alternative spices below under directions)
2 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. garam or 1 tsp. coriander and ½ tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. fenugreek
salt and pepper to taste
¼ tsp. cayenne or 1 tsp. chili pepper flakes optional (see note about spiciness below under directions)


Heat the olive oil in a stew pot until frying-hot then add the onion and cumin seeds. Fry the onion and cumin seeds briefly until the onion is translucent. Turn the heat down low and add the diced tomatoes and the spices. Cover and allow to simmer for five minutes.

A note about the spices: 1) if you have a curry powder that you like, then you could choose to use that instead of all the spices listed; 2) garam usually contains a nice blend of sweeter spices, but if you have no garam, you can substitute the coriander and allspice to achieve a similar taste; 3) my opinion about hot spices is that they should not be used in the preparation of a dish and can always be added later since many people cannot tolerate hot spice so I recommend leaving these flavors out and providing a bowl of chili pepper flakes on the table to be added by individuals to suit their taste. (Sambal Oelek is an excellent hot spicy addition that can be served separately.)

Add the potatoes and carrots to the pot, keep the temperature low, and cover the pot. Allow the curry stew to cook for as long as it takes for the potatoes to soften. This may be as much as two hours on a very low temperature. Remember to stir the pot every 15 minutes so as not to burn any of the food to the bottom. As they cook down, the vegetables will make more juice. Finally, when the potatoes are nearly soft enough, add the frozen peas for about 10 minutes to thaw them and heat them up.

There are many other vegetables that can be successfully added to this stew. Some that work particularly well are broccoli, chopped kale, and green beans.

This dish is terrific served with yogurt (or a raita of yogurt and cucumber), mango chutney, and chapattis. If you don’t have chapattis handy, you can warm tortillas and use them instead. This dish is also a terrific companion food with lentil dal. The recipe provided will serve about five people.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

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