Friday, July 31, 2009



As many of you know, whenever I go down to Casa Belew, I try to cook as many meals as possible. I've developed a few standards (which I've featured on this blog): hummus, pita toasts, vegetable curry, some sort of mexican feast, pan-roasted chicken... But this time, I wanted to use some of those ideas and lighten them up. See, we had each lost a bit of weight on this last tour, and I wanted to help us keep the ball rolling.

On the first night, I decided to tackle one our favorites: Vegetable Curry. Now I know what you're thinking: vegetables - must be healthy, right? Well most Indian recipes call for a drastic overcooking of this fabulous food group, which in turn, drains them of a lot of their nutritional value (hence the popularity of raw diets). They also usually call for a good amount of ghee (clairified butter) or oil, and then are finished with cream or coconut milk (which is a "good fat" but still a fat, nonetheless).

My solution? I decided to cut the fat (by reducing the amount of oil and coconut milk) and the cooking time, so that the vegetables were more "crisp-tender" and therefore more nourishing. I also made it more of a soup-y stew (aka more seasoning and more water) so that it would be more filling for a lesser amount of calories - and money!

serves 6-8

Curry Paste
2 tbsp mild curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp garam masala
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (1 tbsp)
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 serrano chiles, minced (you can use less, but I like my curries to have some kick)
1 tbsp agave nectar

Toast the spices in a large stockpot over high heat for about a minute, until they darken slightly and the kitchen fills with their aroma.
Transfer to a small or medium sized bowl (or better yet, a mortar and pestle) and add the remaining ingredients until it forms a nice, thick paste.
Set aside (if making the curry immediately), or refrigerate until ready to use.

The Stew
2-3 tbsp oil
3-4 leeks (or 2 onions), chopped into 3/4" pieces (or if using onion, diced fine)
2 cups (1 1/2-2 lbs) red bliss potatoes, skin-on, and diced into 3/4" pieces
Curry Paste (recipe above)
1 small head (or 1/2 large head) of broccoli (or cauliflower), florets chopped
1 1/2 cups pureed tomatoes (preferably fresh, but if using canned, use organic diced tomatoes and puree in a blender or food processor)
2-3 cups water
salt to taste
2 cups chickpeas (cooked fresh al dente or from a can - again,if using canned, try to use organic and rinse well)
1 cup frozen peas
1/4-1/2 cup light coconut milk
fresh lime wedges and cilantro

In the same large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and potatoes and cook 10 minutes, or until they start to brown (or caramelize).
Add the curry paste, and stir well (with a non-metal spoon) for about a minute.
Add in the broccoli florets and move them around, ensuring to coat them with the delicious (and now very fragrant) curry paste (about a minute).
Add the tomatoes, 2 cups water, and salt (I recommend starting with a 1/2 tsp). Scrape the bottom of the pot with your spoon, to agitate and release all of that yummy frond (residual flavor left from the caramelized vegetables).
Add in the chickpeas and frozen peas.
Bring the mixture to a boil (covered - you'll hear it start to bubble) and reduce the heat to medium.
Cook for about 10-15 minutes - until the vegetables are just cooked through.
Add in the coconut milk and cook for another 2 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and adjust thickness by adding more water, if necessary.
To serve: Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Squeeze a lime wedge over each one and serve with more cilantro and lime on the side (I like lots extra).

I served this with a curried red pepper salad (just use my recipe for lemon agave vinaigrette, and substitute lime for lemon and add 1 tsp curry powder) and faux naan (aka warmed multigrain pita drizzled with melted garlic butter - sorry, couldn't resist there!)




DoctorJimmy said...

While in Knoxville, be sure to check out this restaurant This is right up your alley, I don't think you will be disappointed.

Steve Kostelecky said...

I would be very much interested in your adventures in producing and your plans for the future.