Here's a simple curry that can stay vegetarian (vegan even) or, with the simple addition of some shrimp or chicken, make a fine dish for the carnivore. The most important thing is that this delicious curry is built largely from your canned goods stash: coconut milk, tinned chickpeas and tomatoes. Just add a few fresh veg, some spices and Bob's your uncle!
This curry is extremely versatile. For example, sharp eyed readers may have noticed that while this recipe is called chickpea curry, there are no chickpeas in the version in the photo. That's because I was inexplicably out of canned chickpeas when I made this late last night! No worries - it's still really good.
As mentioned, you can add pieces meat or fish or seafood towards the end of the final simmer for a non-vegetarian version. The vegetables are also flexible, although I would keep the potatoes as their starch helps to thicken and silken the sauce. Vegans can eliminate the fish sauce and substitute agave for the honey.
Chickpea Curry (aka The Hippie Curry)
This recipe came to my family over 20 years ago from a Zen farm in Marin County, CA. You can't get much more hippie than that!
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups sliced potatoes
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 14-ounce can chickpeas
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or vegan fish sauce)
1 tablespoon honey (or agave syrup, for a vegan adaptation)
1/4 cup slivered basil leaves, plus small whole leaves for garnish
In a mortar, grind the garlic, peppercorns and coriander seeds into a paste. (Alternatively, finely chop the garlic with ground versions of the peppercorns and coriander.)
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Fry garlic mixture until fragrant. Add curry powder and fry a little longer to release flavors.
Add stock, potatoes and carrots and bring to a gentle simmer. After about five minutes, add the cauliflower, tomatoes, coconut milk, chickpeas, soy and fish sauces and honey. Bring to a gentle simmer and continue cooking until the vegetables are done and the sauce has begun to thicken.
Taste for seasonings and add additional soy sauce or honey as needed. You may want to add more heat via hot chile paste if your curry powder wasn't hot enough.
Remove from heat and stir in the basil. Serve over rice with the additional basil on top as a garnish.
Related: From the Spice Cupboard: Curry Powder and its Alternitives
(Images: Dana Velden)