THE PUMPKINS AND ROOT CROPS AND POTATOES in the barn said, “That’s enough of this nonsense, Margaret” yesterday—enough of sitting patiently in there as they have since harvest earlier in the fall. Nights are in the 20s, and the barn’s getting too cool. But where to stash them all safely now? A new fast, freezeable vegetable curry recipe to the rescue, this one featuring sweet potatoes.
First, the disclaimer: This is only the second batch of curry I have ever made, after a lesson imparted just weeks ago from a friend. I am no expert, but it’s easy, highly adaptable in flavor according to your hand with the spices, and it sure does taste good. If you are a professional chef, please no laughing; I offer this to encourage other curry wannabes to just suspend fear and try a potful as I did.
Also please note: What follows is more guide than precise recipe. I cook by feel and taste. The amounts below yield about one-third of an 8-quart stockpot (what I think of as a spaghetti pot) of finished curry, so prep an appropriate amount of vegetables. If you like a finer texture, dice accordingly; I like chunky (and too-fine dices don’t hold up as well after cooking, freezing, and reheating).
Before committing to a jar of each, I purchased small baggies of the various spices in the bulk section of my health-food store; Indian groceries have the best selection of all, along with condiments like chutney. Or you could just buy “curry powder” or paste, but where’s the fun or full fragrance in that?
Sweet Potato Curry-in-Hurry
Vegetables (enough to fill 8-quart stockpot less than halfway when raw), to include:
Peeled sweet potatoes, cut into chunks or discs depending on size of tubers
green peas (half a bag if frozen)
green beans, 1-inch pieces
mushrooms, such as white button or Crimini, about 2 cups cut up
large onion, diced
1 to 2 bell peppers, diced (red makes for a festive accent)
olive oil to coat pan generously
start with ½ teaspoon each of:
start with 1 teaspoon each of:
salt to taste
(for hot curry, additional red pepper beyond what’s in the chili powder can be added)
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 cloves garlic, coarsely cut into chunks
1 Tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
half bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
plain yogurt, about 1 cup
vegetable broth, about 1 cup
Prepare vegetables, tossing sweet potatoes in a bowl with the cumin powder.
Heat olive oil in pan and gently sautee onions; remove.
Add more olive oil to pan; sautee cumin-coated sweet potatoes until just beginning to be tender (covering pot between stirrings).
Add other vegetables in order of their cooking time, hardest to softest, adding your spices gradually as you continue to sautee the growing mixture. Put cooked onions back in.
Add the yogurt and the stock. Add ginger and garlic. Simmer until done (I was patient for about an hour, then ate some). If you need more liquid, don’t hesitate to add a little more stock and yogurt. If you want to adjust spices, now’s the time. Add the cilantro leaves in the last few minutes of cooking.
Serve over brown rice and dress with raita (yogurt laced with ingredients like grated cucumber, chopped mint, lemon zest and cumin) and sweet mango chutney.
Notes: If you are going to freeze this, undercook to allow for reheating. Meaty mushrooms don’t freeze well, so perhaps plan to incorporate them at reheating time.
Also, don’t cook vegetables thoroughly during sautee phase, as there is the long simmering once liquid is added. (I let peas and beans cook in the liquid, adding them raw at that point, for instance.)
Keep in mind that the flavor while cooking isn’t the final flavor, which will evolve (spicier, more complex) over the next day or so. I take out the cinnamon stick before freezing, and I don’t freeze any till the flavors mellow after a day or two in the fridge.
Now on to turn those winter squash and the rest of the greens and such into vegetable stock…