June 02, 2014
a simple eggplant and capsicum curry
In her younger days, my mum was never very adventurous when it came to cooking. Yes, she cooked everything from scratch but tended to stick to a handful of tried and trusted meals which we had on high rotation. I think trying to satisfy the fussy needs of her six children put her off extending her recipe repertoire. Curry wasn’t something we had very often and when we did it was good old curry sausages or eggs made in a white curry sauce (white sauce and curry powder) *yuk! I should add that as a child I disliked both eggs and sausages so those meal times were a test of my mothers patience and my will power.
As us kids grew older mum did start expanding on her culinary efforts, she makes a mean thai chilli chicken dish, but the running joke when we now come together as a family is just how bad her cooking was. Unlike my mum I tend to follow in my fathers footsteps when it comes to cooking and am not afraid to experiment and push the boundaries. That said, I do know what it’s like to cook for a fuss pot or two so can empathise with what my mum had to deal with but by the same token, I always encourage our children to try something at least once before they turn their noses up at it and I don't allow their fussy tendencies, which change on any given day, to dictate what I cook - bad mother!
Gone are the days of a white sauce based curry, I left that behind with my childhood. These days I’m all about a homemade curry paste that allows me the flexibility to tweak the flavours to suit whatever ingredients I have on hand. The beauty of a curry dish is that it is versatile, hearty and a one pot meal that is super simple and fast to make…win/win in my books.
Eggplant and capsicum curry – serves 2-3
1 small eggplant – diced
1 choko – peeled and diced
1/2 each of a red, yellow and green capsicum – diced
1.5 cups coconut milk/cream
1 tsp coconut oil/ghee
2 Tbsp curry paste – recipe below
cauliflower rice/rice of choice/quinoa to accompany
Ingredients: (curry paste)
2 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp Himalayan/rock salt
1-2 fresh chillies – chopped - can use 1-2 tsp chilli flakes
3 cloves garlic – crushed
1/2 onion – finely diced
1 cm piece each of grated tumeric and ginger - can use 1 tsp each of ground
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
For the paste, place the seeds and peppercorns into a dry frypan and toast gently, swirling the pan often, over medium heat until fragrant and starting to brown. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a few minutes. Add the seeds to a mortar and pestle with the salt and grind till fine. Add the remaining paste ingredients to the mortar and pestle and continue to grind until you have a somewhat smooth paste.
For the curry, heat the coconut oil/ghee over medium heat. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for a minute or so. Pour in the coconut milk/cream and the vegetables and turn down to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the vegetables are tender then serve in bowls with quinoa or rice of choice.
- diced or tinned tomato can be used as a base instead of coconut milk/cream
- use whatever vegetables you have on hand, sweet potato and spinach is a particular favourite
- beans or chickpeas are a nice addition as is finely sliced cooked beef or chicken strips
- I tend to use the whole amount of curry paste above if I am cooking for my entire family of ten and up the vegetables and liquid accordingly but if I am making enough for 2-3 serves, I generally put any remaining paste into a small glass jar and cover with a thin layer of olive oil before lidding and refridgerating for up to a week
- use more or less chillies depending on the amount of heat you can tolerate
- serve alongside naan and greek yoghurt for a more substantial meal
- don't let the amount of ingredients in the paste intimidate you, it's well worth the effort of making your own paste