Taken from Food for Thought by Vanessa Kimbell. Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Laura Edwards.
As a student I lived in Leicester for three years at the back of an Indian restaurant. Curry is still my idea of heaven; warm spices are so often the antidote to British weather!
After a few years of hanging out with my mates enjoying regular fiery and fragrant feasts, I noticed that there was an automatic assumption that curry had to involve some kind of meat. The choice was chicken, mutton or lamb (more often than not), occasionally beef and sometimes goat. The provenance of the meat was never mentioned, and eventually, I started to wonder about that, and about who had grown and harvested the spices that were in the curry. My mind would wander as I laughed and chatted with my gang, wondering whether the people who grew our spices also had their friends and families round for the evening, and if they had the luxury of a cold beer and a chance to catch up.
So this is about having an easy conscience – by making the most ethical curry in the world with a recipe to celebrate. It relies upon you choosing to buy and cook with fair trade spices, organic coconut oil, seasonal vegetables and local honey and yogurt, with herbs grown in your garden or in a pot on the windowsill. But make sure you save on food miles by choosing veggies that are local and in season; you might substitute butternut squash, fresh spinach leaves, tomatoes, mangetout or sugar snap peas (or a big handful of podded peas), whole green beans, discs of carrot or even mushrooms for what’s in the recipe, cut into different shapes, to give the dish visual appeal.
2 large potatoes, unpeeled
6 tablespoons coconut oil
1 stick of cinnamon
2 star anise
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 large onions, chopped
2 tablespoons garam masala
2 tablespoons mild curry powder
1 tablespoon sea salt
seasonal local vegetables, such as 2 courgettes, cut into 1cm thick slices, 1 aubergine, cut into sticks the size of your little finger, 1/2 cauliflower, broken into florets
2 tablespoons coconut yogurt
For the yogurt dressing
200g plain yogurt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon sea salt
4 sprigs of mint, roughly chopped (optional)
a handful of coriander or parsley leaves
Cook the potatoes whole for 10 minutes then drain, and chop into 2.5cm cubes, leaving the skin on. Put the coconut oil, cinnamon and star anise in a saucepan and heat. Add the mustard, cumin and fennel seeds and onions, and sauté until the onions are soft and caramelised. It will be very fragrant as you cook.
Once the onions are soft and dark, add the garam masala, curry powder and salt, then stir in the seasonal vegetables and diced potatoes. Stir well and cook for a further 5–6 minutes until the vegetables are well coated with spices and just starting to soften. Add a little more coconut oil if necessary. Reduce the heat, add about 120ml cold water and cook for a further 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft but still have some shape. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and leave for 15 minutes, then stir in the coconut yogurt.
Meanwhile, make the yogurt dressing. Stir the yogurt, turmeric, honey, salt and mint (if using) together in a small bowl. Spoon the curry into a serving dish and scatter coriander or parsley leaves over the top. Serve with the yogurt dressing on the side.
Great with a big bowl of steamed or boiled basmati rice to share.
Please note: At The Sourdough School we endeavour to use fresh, seasonal, locally produced ingredients wherever possible. We reserve the right to change certain ingredients depending on availability, and rely on students to contact the school before attending a course if they have any food allergies or intolerances.