Curry Base

With my recent return to work, our freezer became one of our most important appliances (I think the washing machine still has the edge, though). My mum came over for a few days in late March, and we cooked up double batches of chili, bolognese sauce and curry base. I’ve gone on about the chili previously, and I promise to tell you about the bolognese another time. Today it’s all about the curry sauce.

Now this curry sauce is not something that anyone in their right mind would call “authentic”. While it uses lots of individual spices (not relying on a commercially prepared curry powder), it also incorporates all kinds of veggies that I’m pretty sure wouldn’t be found in any traditional recipe. However, it is delicious, nutritious and just the kind of thing I want to pull out of the freezer at 5:30 on a weekday night. It is a bit of work to pull together, but it doubles very easily, thanks to the fact that you chop all the veggies in a food processor, so it’s really no more work than making a single recipe.

The thing that’s great about this recipe is that it’s a fairly complete meal on its own, so if you’re really short on time you can eat it over some rice and call it a night. This is Miles’s preferred approach, because as far as he’s concerned, the more curry, the better!  But you can also bulk it up by adding some meat and a few more vegetables. We usually use the ubiquitous and rather uninspired boneless skinless chicken breasts, but thighs also work nicely. I’d be interested to see how this would work with some kind of firm white fish or tofu, if that’s your kind of thing. For veggies we usually use green peas or broccoli. If you go this route, I recommend cooking the meat a bit first, and then adding the sauce and veggies to simmer for the remainder of the time needed to cook the meat.

Curry Base

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 70g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 large tin of tomatoes
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • Water, as needed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash the lentils, then place them in a pot and cover them with cold water (the exact amount of water is not important). Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, chop all the vegetables together with the garlic and ginger in a food processor until finely chopped.

Place a large saucepan over medium-low heat and heat enough oil to cover the bottom the pan. Add the spices and fry gently for a couple of minutes. Then add the chopped veggies and fry gently for 5-10 minutes, until they start to soften.

Add the tomatoes and cooked lentils and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add water if needed to prevent sticking, but try not to make the sauce too thin. The veggies will release water, so resist the temptation to add too much water in the early stages.

Add the coconut milk once the veggies are cooked. Blend until smooth using an immersion blender. Season to taste.

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