The UK is home to around 9,000 curry houses and restaurants and we spend over £250 million a year on Indian takeaways. So what better than to celebrate this feast of the senses with National Curry Week (October 9-15).
From the hot and spicy to the wonderful and aromatic – Korma, Madras, Jalfrezi and Dopiaza to name but a few and for those who like it Hot! … the Vindaloo – what ever your favourite we enjoy devouring them every weekend.
Vivek Singh knows a thing or two about Indian cusine. Regarded as one of the most inspiring Indian chefs of his generation and a master of Indian fine dining, his signature culinary style marries modern Indian flavours with Western techniques.
Vivek has given us his top tips for cooking the perfect curry and a delightful Autumnal recipe from his latest cookbook – Vivek Singh’s Indian Festival Feasts.
• Whenever possible, use meat on the bone. It provides curries with much more depth and flavour.
• Always add whole spices to hot oil and let the spices crackle and pop before adding other ingredients – it releases the flavours into the oil.
• Cheap ground spices such as cumin, turmeric, red chilli’s, and coriander can be added during cooking and can last 30 minutes to an hour without losing their flavour.
• More expensive spices such as mace, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and garam masala need to be used at the very end of the cooking as finishing spices.
• Always finish the curry with fresh, chopped coriander, fresh ginger and fresh green chillis. You can also add lemon for added freshness.
Kaddu ki subzi (pumpkin and coconut curry)
This is a very simple curry featuring coconut, curry leaves and chilli. You can make it as wet or dry as you like, depending upon your taste.
During Navratri in India, which is usually in the Autumn, this is one of several vegetarian dishes that people reach out for to make it through the nine days of abstinence and fasting. In the UK, too, as Autumn sets in and pumpkin is plentiful, the spices and coconut combine to make a delightful comfort meal.
1kg pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and seeds discarded, diced into 4cm cubes
2.5cm piece of cinnamon stick
2 green chillies, slit lengthways
15 curry leaves
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
8-10 black peppercorns
3 tablespoons desiccated coconut
200ml coconut milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
Place the pumpkin in a pot with the cinnamon stick, green chillies, 10 curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, turmeric, sugar, salt, red chilli powder and 400ml of water. Bring to the boil, then cook, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes until the pumpkin becomes tender, but not mushy. You should be able to pierce the pumpkin with the tip of a knife or skewer, but it should not fall apart.
Meanwhile, using a blender or food processor, grind together the mustard seeds, peppercorns and 2 tablespoons of the desiccated coconut with the coconut milk. Pour this into the boiled pumpkin and allow it to simmer for a few minutes until the gravy thickens slightly. Taste for salt and turn off the heat.
In a separate small frying pan, heat the oil until smoking, then add the remaining curry leaves. As they turn crisp after about 30 seconds or so, add the chopped onion and fry for 3-4 minutes on a high heat until they turn pink. Add the remaining desiccated coconut and fry until crisp and golden in colour.
Sprinkle on top of your curry as a garnish and serve with rice.