yellow pumpkin curry with tofu croutons

curry time!

Another curry? I hear you exclaim – (I thought she didn’t like making curries). Odd and miraculous as it may seem, dear reader, I DO have another curry. It’s a bit confused (Indian curry? Thai curry? It’s really not sure.) but its confusion in no way effects its incredible flavour. (And it’s speedy to make).

A few weekends ago, we went over to my parents’ house for lunch. Mum served a blended version of this curry as a soup (minus the tofu and the green beans), and I was blown away. It was just so good. And because my mother is truly generous, she shared her recipe with me, and now I’m sharing it with you, because everybody needs something this delicious.

Let’s talk about curry leaves. They’re pretty damn awesome. The bunch I bought from the markets cost $1 for nearly a year’s supply. Curry leaves can be used both fresh (Indian curries flash fry them in hot oil and then the mixture is stirred into dhals, curries, etc) and dried (like in this recipe). They are incredible fragrant and give this curry a flavour that sort of floats around your mouth, teasing you with familiarity.

You can dry curry leaves by placing them in a single layer (still attached to the stem is fine), and in an oven set at 100 C (210 F) for 10-15 minutes (check to make sure they don’t burn). They should feel crispy and crunchy. Remove from the oven, and cool; the leaves should easily pull off the stems. Store in an airtight container. (You can also freeze fresh curry leaves – pop them in a zip-loc bag and freeze. Grab a few out when needed.)

chilli above all
the best green beans EVER
yellow curry ingredients
tofu croutons

This is, I feel, a very customisable recipe. Add whatever green vegetable you feel like (bok choy or broccoli would both be amazing). Add cubed tofu (or tempeh) to the pot, instead of baking it (though tofu croutons are so crunchy-outisde/chewy-inside good that I highly recommend them). Serve over rice (brown, basmati, jasmine), or noodles (rice, soba, udon). Heck, even a squeeze of lime wouldn’t go astray over this curry.

crispy croutons
yellow pumpkin curry with tofu croutons

Yellow Pumpkin Curry

serves 4

Recipe Notes:

  • As noted above, this is very much YOUR curry, feel free to add in or substitute different vegetables for the green beans. Serve with whatever base (rice, noodles, etc), you like.
  • This is a mild curry (Adam doesn’t like spicy food, so I tend to cook things to be very mild). Serve with chilli sauce or slices of fresh chilli if you prefer more heat.
  • Once the pumpkin is tender, DO NOT stir vigorously (otherwise you’ll end up with pumpkin soup). Handle with care, perfectly cooked pumpkin is a dainty creature.

Ingredients

  • 600 g peeled and deseeded pumpkin, cut into large chunks (my piece of pumpkin was ~900 g before I deseeded and peeled it)
  • 1 tbsp olive/coconut/sunflower oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 10 dried curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
  • 400 mL can coconut milk
  • 200 mL water
  • 160 g (a really good handful) green beans, trimmed and sliced into 2 inch lengths
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • coriander leaves, to serve
  • tofu croutons, to serve (see below)

In a large saucepan, over medium-low heat, heat the oil. Add onion, ginger, garlic and chilli. Sauté gently for 5-10 minutes, until soft (if the mixture starts to stick, add a dash of water). While this is cooking, gently crush the curry leaves in a mortar and pestle (you won’t get a powder, but you just want to break them up a bit). When the onion mixture is soft, add the curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, and turmeric to the pan and cook for one minute. Add the pumpkin, coconut milk, water, and soy sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, simmering gently until the pumpkin is just tender (~15 minutes).

Meanwhile, prepare the tofu croutons (see below), and with the mortar and pestle, gently bruise the mustard seeds. Once the pumpkin is tender, add the green beans and mustard seeds. Return the boil and cook for a further 5 minutes.

To serve, gently ladle spoonfuls of the curry over rice or noodles. Top with the tofu croutons and sprigs of fresh coriander. Enjoy!

Tofu Croutons

makes enough to garnish 4 meals

Recipe notes:

  • Tofu croutons are great over almost any soup, curry or salad; adding texture and protein.
  • Feel free to experiment with flavours! Chinese-five spice croutons over stir-fry, or za’atar croutons over a tagine, sound good to me.

Ingredients

  • 200 g firm tofu, cubed small (~1 cm or 1/2 inch)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 220 C (425 F). Toss cubed tofu with oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a lined baking try in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Remove from the oven and garnish away! If you have leftovers, they can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days.

vanilla cashew cream

strawberry and cream

Cashew cream, I’m fairly convinced, is a gateway drug.

…to almost any dessert imaginable. Or, if I’m being honest, breakfast too. It is stupidly easy to make, and makes everything it touches good. Here are some of the ways I’ve used cashew cream: in banoffee pie, with balsamic-macerated strawberries, on top of many, many cakes, on top of muesli, on top of boring fruit. You can even freeze it in a cake tin to get cashew cream cheesecake.

cashews
raw cashews
pouring in the maple syrup

It stores in the fridge wonderfully, awaiting your every need, for about 1 week. It’s the sort of thing, that once you know how to make it, you can make it all the time, turning regular desserts or regular breakfasts or regular snacks into something special, delicious, and good for you. You may even find yourself baking cakes just to put cashew cream on them.

cashew cream on cake

Vanilla Cashew Cream

makes about 1.5 cups

Recipe Notes:

Don’t stress over getting every scrap of cashew cream out of the blender. Get as much out as you can, then add 750 mL fresh water, and blend on high. You will have just made vanilla-flavoured cashew milk (and your blender is easier to clean). I have the wonderful Hannah to thank for this tip. Cashew milk will store in the fridge for 1 week.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 6 hours or overnight
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean

Scoop the cashews into the blender and retain the soaking liquid. Add the other ingredients to the blender with 1 tbsp of the soaking liquid. Blend slowly, then stop and scrape down the sides, blend again on a higher speed. Add 1 tbsp more liquid if required. Repeat until the cashew cream is silky and smooth, and thick. Remove from blender and refrigerate until needed.

zucchini spaghetti with sun-dried tomato and cashew sauce

zucchini spaghetti for two

If there’s been one meal, above all others, that I have missed since going gluten free, it’s pasta. Holy shit. Pasta is comfort food; is when-you’re-sick food; was THE meal I ordered at restaurants. I know good gluten free pastas exist, but I’ve never found one I’ve loved.

And then, I picked up a beautiful new book The Green Kitchen (from the writers of the equally beautiful blog), and saw this recipe, and it went straight to the top of my list. Zucchini can be noodles?! Consider me intrigued.

spaghetti components
cashews for saucin'
prepared zucchini slices

I was not disappointed. Zucchini noodles are the closest ‘noodle’ to regular spaghetti I’ve found (even Adam agreed, really, and he’s a skeptic). And the sundried tomato and cashew sauce is ridiculously good. I ate it with a spoon. (I imagine it as an excellent dip for raw veggies.)

The Green Kitchen is a truly gorgeous book, full of recipes that I want to make. I’m also in love with the photography and design (a must for cookbooks), so I thought I’d share a few photos from the inside.

the green kitchen 1
the green kitchen 2
the green kitchen 3

I couldn’t find any mushrooms worth eating at the markets (which David and Luisa serve with the noodles in the book), so went for avocado and parsley instead (creamy avocado – in some weird way = vegan version of mozzarella slices. amazing).

Next time, I’d add even more parsely (we’re parsley freaks round here), and even though it ruins the raw-tasticness of the dish, some toasted almonds/pinenuts/pepitas. This dish is all about texture for me, and flavour too. Garnishing with chewy strips of sundried tomato is a also must. (I think you could also make this work with a basil pesto that’s on the runny side, perhaps with a few fresh tomatoes tossed through.)

Even though it’s practically winter here, this was hearty and satisfying. Having said that, however, I’m looking forward to enjoying in on a summer evening, after a 32 degree day, with a vat of iced tea. Divine!

zucchini spaghetti

Zucchini Spaghetti with Sun-dried Tomato and Cashew Sauce

serves 4 slightly hungry people or 2 very hungry people

Recipe Notes:

  • If you’ve got a julienne slicer, or mandoline, go for it. Otherwise, time to practise your knife skills (which is also handy, really).

Ingredients

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked in water for 6 hours or overnight
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 200 g (~1 cup) sun-dried tomatoes, drained of oil and roughly chopped, a few reserved whole for garnishing
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 handful parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Using a julienne slicer (or your wicked knife skills), slice the zucchini thinly lengthwise to form your noodles. In a blender, combine drained cashews, zest, juice, garlic, oil, and sun-dried tomatoes. Blend until creamy and relatively smooth. Season to taste. Toss zucchini noodles with sauce and 3/4 of the parsley. Arrange on plates, topped with avocado, slices of the reserved sun-dried tomatoes, and the remaining parsley. Serve with plenty of freshly cracked black pepper. Enjoy!

food crush: sweet potato

mr sweet potatoSometimes, life calls for something magical, comforting; something that positively glows with good health and delicious radiance. That, my friends, is the sweet potato. I know I’m probably preaching to the converted, but I feel like we should take a moment to truly appreciate this truly magnificent tuber. They’re pretty rad.

a magnificent tuber sweet potato up closeIf my childhood was dominated by white potatoes (mashed potato with tomato sauce – by itself or in sandwiches – was the staple of my youth), then I think adulthood is going to be the time of the sweet potato. I eat them constantly. In curries, stews, soups, or tagines. Roasted, mashed, sautéed. A sweet potato has the ability to make a mediocre meal brilliant. Don’t feel like eating another salad? Put some slices of roasted sweet potato on it, and BAM! Salad problems solved. On top of sweet potato’s salad-busting abilities, it is also a nutritional powerhouse – the kind of tuber a girl can love, and it loves her back too.

Boiled and mashed sweet potato is my go-to meal when I’m sick and the thought of anything else would be just too much. Sweet potato also makes cakes and scones and pies, and if I could sweet potato in a biscuit, I probably would. It was a fucking brilliant day when I realised that some burger places had started serving sweet potato fries. Genius.

jalfrezi ingredients coriander prepared ingredients

jalfrezi is served

It’s almost winter here, so I’m cooking lots of comfort-filled food. Curry is definitely comfort food. I’m willing to bet you decent money that over 50% of the time, when I ask Adam what he feels like for dinner, he’ll say a curry. At which point, I sigh and grumble about how curries are so involved, and so rich, and I’m too lazy to make a decent one. Well, my friends, do I have a curry for you. Sweet potato jalfrezi not only includes my beloved root, but is quite possibly the ultimate curry for the lazy girl. And because it’s a tomato-based curry, you avoid the heavy richness that cream-based curries tend to deliver.

This really is a great, great recipe (even better the next day). There are lots of serving options, which I outline below, and it’s most certainly a make-ahead friendly meal. On a wintry day, with rain, grey skies and general miserableness, I couldn’t imagine anything better for dinner.

A few other sweet-potato-riffic recipes:

A few more ideas for using sweet potato (because sweet potato should go with everything):

  • Mashed sweet potato (my go-to sickness food)
  • Whole-roasted sweet potato (a sweet potato is a meal in itself)
  • Thin slices of sweet potato, roasted (topping for salads, soups)
  • Slices of roasted sweet potato in sandwiches

jalfrezi sweet potato jalfrezi

Sweet Potato Jalfrezi

serves 4

adapted from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook

Recipes notes:

  • Don’t be tempted to add a lot of liquid (you might think you want to cover the vegetables, but you don’t). The sauce won’t thicken if you add extra water.
  • I prefer the curry served with brown rice (or quinoa) and lemon wedges. You can however, serve it topped with fresh mango as well. (I imagine a dollop of cashew sour cream wouldn’t go astray either.) 
  • This is a dish which tastes better as it ages. I often cook it 3-4 hours before it’s needed, then turn off the heat and put the lid on. I give it a quick reheat just before serving, and it’s good to go. Naturally, it makes superb leftovers.
  • Also, the second vegetable (zucchini in this case) is pretty interchangeable. The original recipe used cauliflower, and I imagine little baby yellow squashes, green beans, or aubergine would work too. The capsicum however, is not – it’s responsible for the delightful sweet-spicy-tangy thing that happens.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil/sunflower oil/coconut oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp Jalfrezi spice mix (see below)
  • 800 g tin of diced tomatoes
  • 1 very large sweet potato (~500 g), chopped large (see photos for size)
  • 2 zucchini (courgette) (~500 g), chopped large (see photo)
  • 1 red capsicum/pepper, deseeded and sliced into 1 cm lengths
  • 1 small bunch coriander, leaves picked and stems finely chopped
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • lemon wedges, to serve

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until soft (about 10 minutes). Add the spice mix, and cook, stirring for another minute or so. Add tomatoes, 3/4 cup water, sweet potatoes, zucchini, capsicum and coriander stems. Season to taste. Return heat to medium, cover, and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Remove lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer until vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened (usually another 40 minutes or so, depending on how large you cut your vegetables). Transfer jalfrezi to a serving dish and scatter with the coriander leaves. Serve with lemon wedges and brown rice or quinoa.

Jalfrezi Spice Mix

makes about 3 tablespoons

Recipe notes:

  • This is a mild jalfrezi spice mix. If you prefer more heat, add cayenne to taste. That being said, I served this to a friend who eats more chilli than us, and he said that it was a good level of heat. 

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix all the spices together. Store in an airtight container, in a dark place. Keeps for about 1-2 months.