The template for this recipe is simple, and need not contain what’s in the ingredient list. You can include whatever you’ve got on hand or what’s available in season or at the market.
Don’t be daunted by the number of spices. If you’ve got a well-stocked pantry or if you’re experienced with Indian food, chances are you’re already ahead of the game by that much.
Cauliflower, peas and squash curry, with mint raita
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2 tablespoons ghee*
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 medium onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
a pinch of ground coriander
a pinch of ground turmeric
a pinch of ground cumin
crushed dried chiles
2 green cardamom pods, crushed
salt, to taste
1 medium head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1/2 lb. sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 medium summer squash or zucchini, chopped
1 cup yogurt
6 tablespoons buttermilk or sour cream
6 heaping tablespoons mint chutney (see recipe below)
juice of half a lime
For the mint raita:
Combine yogurt, buttermilk, mint chutney and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Stir thoroughly and chill. Raita can be made up one day in advance.
For the curry:
Heat the ghee in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the mustard seeds. When the seeds “pop”, add the onion and garlic. Fry until they turn golden brown, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes and continue frying until you have a reddish paste, about 5 minutes. The consistency should be somewhere between a chunky tomato sauce and canned tomato paste. Add the coriander, turmeric, cumin, chiles, cardamom pods and salt. Continue frying until the spices are all well-blended in the paste, about 2 minutes.
Add the squash and cauliflower to the pan. Fry on high heat, taking care to stir frequently to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the skillet. If the mixture seems too dry, add a few tablespoons of water from time to time. Continue cooking until the cauliflower becomes partially softened, about 8 minutes.
Add pea pods to the pan. Stir. Lower heat to medium-low and cover. Cook until cauliflower is tender, about 5 additional minutes. Remove pan from heat. Taste for salt (if necessary), stir in chopped cilantro and lime juice, then serve at once.
*Clarified butter. Can be store-bought or made at home (I’ll do a demo on making homemade ghee in a future post). Ghee is available at Indian food shops or gourmet specialty-stores.
Time: 30 minutes, not including prep.
3 cups mint leaves, tightly packed
1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
1/2″ ginger root, peeled and minced
2 jalapeño peppers, deveined, seeded and chopped (if you leave the veins intact, the chutney will be spicier)
salt, to taste
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons cold water
Grind all ingredients in a food processor or blender until desired consistency is reached. Can be chunky or more liquid, depending on personal preference.