Monday, November 1, 2010

South Indian-style Vegetable Curry

All these beautiful vegetables go into this delicious Curry
       I don’t know what verb I’d use to describe my reaction to the latest statistics showing that Americans just don’t eat their vegetables….Appalled? Shocked? Disturbed?  I’d have to say none of the above.  I started doing a check on what I’d been eating in a week.  There was the day I had a Porchetta sandwich for lunch—devoid of even a piece of lettuce, then followed that with a dinner out of Speck and Figs, followed by the most delicious Scallops but absent any vegetables of any kind.  Of course, this day I ate both meals out.  It’s amazing how many very good restaurants don’t incorporate vegetables into their main courses.  But I guess when you can charge $9.00 for a bowl of spinach as a side, you’d be hard pressed to rationalize putting a carrot on the plate to accompany a main dish.  At home, we do a lot better.  Although we hardly qualify as vegetarians, there are always vegetables or, at minimum, a salad.   And while we have yet to put a strictly vegetarian dinner on our weekly schedule, this fantastic Vegetable Curry could change that.

        Ellie Krieger is a Food Network personality and author.  I confess I’ve never watched her show “Healthy Appetite”.   She’s very attractive, has a really pleasant manner and I’m sure she knows her stuff.  She’s also a Contributing Editor of Fine Cooking magazine.  And now that I’ve tasted her latest contribution to that wonderful publication, I’m a fan.  Ellie takes her inspiration for this dish from South India.  There the population is overwhelmingly vegetarian.  And this curry has a wonderful combination of Indian flavors—coriander and cumin, turmeric and ginger, cinnamon and coconut milk all blended together in a rich golden sauce. According the Ellie, the anti-oxidant powers of these spices is astonishing.  And backed up with facts like “ a half teaspoon of cinnamon has more anti-oxidants that a serving of raspberries”, you have to agree.   I’d like to reassure you that this is not a spicy dish but Andrew didn’t necessarily agree.  That being said, if you leave out the minute amount of cayenne pepper you’ll have something with very little heat. 
        What’s amazing here too, is how many vegetables are incorporated into the dish.  One visit to the Farm Stand yielded them all—glorious cauliflower, sweet potato, yellow onions, ripe tomatoes and giant carrots.  I opted for organic spinach and chickpeas from Whole Foods.  If you want to go pure vegetarian use Vegetable stock in lieu of the chicken stock in Ellie’s recipe.  (I noticed it’s quite a bit less expensive as well). Ellie says that with basmati or brown rice, this is a complete meal.  I don’t even think it needs that.   Make this dish and see if you and yours don’t think it’s a meal unto itself. Although I know from personal experience, it’s a wonderful side dish with a piece of grilled fish or chicken or even… steak.  Despite the number of ingredients, aside from a lot of chopping and dicing, this really isn't hard to make at all.  Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for South Indian-style Vegetable Curry courtesy of Ellie Krieger
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (1 Tbs.)
1 Tbs. ground coriander
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 Tbs. tomato paste
2 cups lower-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 cup light coconut milk
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small cauliflower, broken into 1-1/2-inch florets (about 4 cups)
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (about 1 cup)
One 15-1/2-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 oz. baby spinach (about 4 lightly packed cups)
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium (or medium low if necessary) and cook until the onion is richly browned, 5 to 7 minutes more. Add the garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, for 1 minute to blend the flavors. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne; stir for 30 seconds to toast the spices. Add the tomato paste and stir until well blended with the aromatics, about 1 minute.

Add the broth, coconut milk, cinnamon stick, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low or low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots. Raise the heat to medium high and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.

Stir in the chickpeas, spinach, lime juice, and zest; cook until the spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes more. Season to taste with salt. Serve garnished with the cilantro.  Serves 6.


  1. Ellie is great! She did an Easy Spirit commercial for us while she was getting her Masters in nutrition---and she still looks exactly that young and beautiful.
    Shall try the curry, Mr. Mathews--thanks!

  2. Thanks Judy! I love stories like that!

  3. Monte

    This chickpeas and vegetables curry would be perfect with rice or Naan. I like the easy to follow recipe


  4. Replies
    1. Thank you so much. Glad you enjoyed it!