Friday, April 24, 2015

No-waste curry: Using up veges and doing good

A while ago I visited Kaibosh, the wonderful Wellington food rescue group. It collects various kinds of leftover food and redistributes it to organisations who can use it. Currently they have 24 donors, from Countdown to People's Coffee, and the food goes out to 27 groups, from Wellington Women's Refuge to Lower Hutt Food Bank.
          They're now inviting people to "Make a Meal in May to share with the people you care about, and raise funds for Kaibosh at the same time". Find out how here.
           The main kind of food they rescue (over 60% of their collection) is fruit and vegetables. These also feature strongly on a really useful site, Love Food Hate Waste, dedicated to helping us all cut down on food waste at home.
            So this week I thought I'd update a remarkably simple, healthy recipe that I posted back in 2012, because it's a terrific way to use up as many veges as possible in a very tasty way - and it would make a great dish to serve at a May Meal for Kaibosh.

Vegetable Curry
(adapted from Doris Ady's recipe in The Sultan's Kitchen - for the full story, go here.)

Basic vegebtables:
1 large firm fresh potato (any kind)
1 large brown onion
1 large red, yellow or green pepper
To these you can add pieces of kumara, pumpkin, parsnip, carrot, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, as well as peas and sweetcorn kernels - whatever you have on hand and want to use up.  If you increase the quantity of veges, increase the spices proportionately.

Peel the potatoes (and other root vegetables) and cut them into cubes about 1.5cm square. (no need to be exact - it's jsut a matter of keeping them all roughly the same size and making sure the pieces won't take too long to cook.)
Peel and thinly slice the onion.
Deseed and slice the pepper.
Cut veges such as cauli and broccoli into flowerets. (If you're feeling really anti-waste, peel the thick main stalk and cut it into chunks too.) Slice green beans thickly..

Spices and liquid:
1 mild red chili (use a hotter one, if you like it, or dried chili flakes instead)
1 cm length of a thick piece of fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1-2 tsps turmeric
(If you want a stronger curry flavour, you can add 1-2 tsps of a good brand of mild curry powder s well. Chefs would not approve, but too bad.)
1 tsp belacan or blachan (dried shrimp paste)
(You can buy this in Asian food shops. It smells very pungent, so once you've opened it, keep it firmly wrapped up in the fridge. It seems to stay perfectly okay to use for a long time, and gives the curry a totally distinctive flavour - but you don't need much! And it will still taste okay without this - or try a dash of fish sauce instead.)

2 cups of  chicken or vegetable stock (you can use stock cubes, but miso paste plus water is better, or proper stock)

Deseed and finely chop the chili (then wash your hands).
Finely mince together the peeled garlic and ginger (or use a food processor).
Put all the veges and all the spices into a deep saucepan. Add the stock - the liquid should almost cover the veges.
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the vegetables (especially the potatoes) are cooked but not disintegrating.

To finish:
1 small tin or half a larger tin of coconut cream
juice of 1 large lemon
finely chopped parsley

Add the coconut cream to dissolve in the curry, and reheat gently.
Add salt and lemon juice to taste. (I like quite a lot of juice. Lime juice is even better.)
Before serving, sprinkle with chopped parsley.

To go with this:
A big bowl of rice (basmati and brown rice are both good), and quartered hard-boiled eggs. If you like them, add some of the side dishes that make curry so good - chutneys, sambals, yoghurt or raita, lime pickle, poppadums or naan bread. 
         This is so easy to make, and with no fat and lots of veges, really healthy too. Like most curries, it's even better the next day. You can also turn any leftovers into a delicious soup.

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