Whilst I'm all for making things from scratch, I do have a few convenience foods lurking in my fridge and cupboards. Sometimes, when I'm late back from work, these can be lifesavers and are what stands between me and a takeaway pizza. Pesto is one such item - it tastes wonderful when made fresh to order, but hey, I don't always have fresh basil to hand. A pot of the stuff in the fridge can perk up not just pasta, but salmon, chicken or vegetables too.
Curry paste is another. I always have green Thai curry paste to hand as it is a real favourite. I should probably make up a batch of my own one day, but for now I'm pretty content with the pot in the back of my fridge.
A couple of nights ago, I returned home with no particular plans for supper. The house was full of vegetables and I fancied something with a little kick. In the back of my cupboard, I found a jar of mild curry paste and a tin of coconut milk - perfect! My vegetable rack was heavy to autumnal root vegetables (squash and sweet potato mainly) and so I cooked up a hearty and warming dish of spicy vegetables simmered in coconut milk. Only trouble is that I have been unable to rid my flat of the smell! It has been almost five days and each time I open the door, I am greeted by the smell of cumin, turmeric and other exotic spices. Whilst I enjoyed the smell whilst I was cooking, I'm now somewhat sick of it. I've tried burning cooks candles, throwing open all the doors and windows and even cooking other strong-smelling dishes (smoked mackerel fishcakes, yesterday), but still the place smells of the vegetable curry... If anyone has any suggestions, I'd be most grateful...
Anyway, without further ado, here is the recipe for this rather good curry. Next time I think I would reduce the amount of sweet potato and replace with more potato and squash - with the coconut milk, it was just a little too rich. The recipe is very... fluid. I would just chuck in whatever veg I had lying around: spinach, cauliflower and peppers would all be good additions.
An autumnal vegetable curry
1 large sweet potato, cubed
Roughly same quantity of regular potato, cubed
Similar quantity of cubed squash - I used a small, rounded green-skinned squash
1 large onion, sliced
handful of broccoli florets
one small courgette, cubed
a mug of frozen peas
half tin of coconut milk
2 tablespoons mild curry paste of your choosing (mine was heavy to cumin)
300 ml vegetable stock
1. Heat the curry paste in a large pan (I used my wok) and then add the sliced onions. Cook until they are beginning to soften.
2. Add both types of potato and the squash and stir well to coat. Heat for a few minutes and then add the coconut milk and stock. Give everything a good stir and bring gently to the boil. Simmer the curry for around 10 minutes before adding the broccoli and courgette. Continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes, until the potatoes are just cooked through and the sauce has reduced somewhat. Stir occasionally - you may find you need to add a touch more stock and/or coconut milk if the sauce is reducing too rapidly.
3. Once the potatoes are cooked through (but still holding their shape), add the peas and cook for a couple of minutes. Before serving, stir through a handful of chopped fresh coriander.
4. Serve with rice and perhaps a touch of natural yoghurt if needed.