We do enjoy curries in this house, but typically I cop out and buy ready-made spice mixes or spice pastes as a base for the curry sauce. Partly it’s because they give a reliable result, and on any standard weeknight we don’t want the possibility of having our socks blown off by a surprisingly hot curry. But partly, it’s also because I’m lazy, and not in the habit of doing it myself. And old habits are hard to break. But I decided the time had come…
In researching what should go into my home-made curry paste, I headed for the appropriate supermarket aisle and read the ingredients lists on several jars! Of course it doesn’t give you any idea of relative quantities, but at least it’s a place to start, right? I made a list of what I wanted to put in, and then I got all the spices and things out and looked at them on the kitchen counter.
As I was aiming for something rich and pleasantly spicy but not mouth-meltingly hot, I added more of the fragrant, milder spices and less of the fiery ones. (Rocket science, eh?) Then I chucked in some oil and tomato puree and blitzed the lot to a fine paste. Raw, it tasted like lightly spiced garlic. I resisted the urge to keep adding more things, and decided to get on with the actual cooking.
This particular curry was created to use two of the inhabitants of my organic veg box this week – sweet potatoes, and spinach. I didn’t think there would be enough of them alone, so added the chickpeas to bulk out the dish and also add some protein. Plus, I really like chickpeas in a curry.
We had this with brown rice, and everyone enjoyed it. Kipper was particularly fond of the soft, spiced chunks of sweet potato, and even nicked a couple of extra ones off my plate! I think DH would have preferred a slightly hotter curry, but that’s his preference. You can easily adjust the ‘heat’ of this curry by tweaking the amount of spices you add to the paste.
I can’t say I’ll never buy ready-made curry paste again, but I’ll certainly think twice. This was really easy and very delicious.
- 25g fresh root ginger
- 3 cloves garlic
- 0.5 tsp chilli powder
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1.5 tsp ground turmeric
- 0.5 tsp mustard seeds
- 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 medium onions
- 3 tbsp sunflower oil
- 50g creamed coconut
- 2 tsp vegetable stock powder
- 300g sweet potatoes (2 small)
- 400g tin chickpeas
- 250g spinach
- Peel the root ginger and garlic cloves and cut into chunks. Place in a blender or mini-chopper with all the dried spices, the oil and the tomato puree. Blend to a smooth paste.
- Peel the onions and cut into wedges. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the onions for 5-6 minutes until soft and starting to brown.
- Add the spice paste and continue to fry, stirring, for a few minutes.
- Dissolve the coconut and stock powder in 350ml of boiling water. Add to the pan with the onions and spices. Stir well to combine, cover, and bring to a simmer.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into roughly 1.5cm chunks. Drain the chickpeas. Add the sweet potato pieces and chickpeas to the pan with the onions and sauce. Stir well and cover. Simmer gently for 20-25 minutes until the sweet potato is soft and cooked through.
- Meanwhile, remove the stalks from the spinach leaves and discard. Wash the spinach thoroughly, and roughly shred the leaves. Once the sweet potato is done, add to the pan and stir into the sauce - the spinach should wilt and mix in almost immediately.
- Serve with rice.