Last Night’s Dinner: Chickpea and vegetable curry

Sunday 20 March

Sometimes we make creamy curries with coconut milk or yoghurt, sometimes tomatoey ones with a hint of sweet and sour, and sometimes this type, which uses a spicing mix that, if it were a wine, I’d describe as ‘dry’. There’s lots of chilli, then ground turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander seed, yellow mustard seed, grated fresh ginger, cardomom and rather a lot of fennel seeds. You’ll notice I don’t like to give accurate measurements for spices very often. Why? Well, I think it’s a question of taste. However, I never trust those recipes that state that 1/4 or 1/2 a teaspoon of a spice is enough. In my experience, it really isn’t. As a starting point I’d suggest about a good teaspoon for each of the above, then experiment.

The spices get fried off with an onion and then I blend that with a little sunflower oil and a drizzle of water to get the curry sauce base. In the meantime, start to cook some red lentils in another pan. When they’re soft and saucy, add the spice mixture.

You can add whatever veg you like really. I chose a tin of chickpeas, some boiled new potatoes, plus a lightly fried courgette. Carrots, cauliflower and green beans are also good. I tend to avoid aubergine with this recipe as its smoky creaminess somehow doesn’t suit. Anyway, when the veg is cooked, tip in into the pot and mix. Finally chop two cloves of garlic, place them into the bowl of a metal ladle, pour a little oil over the top and then heat the bottom of the ladle over a flame until the oil bubbles and the garlic starts to turn light gold in colour. Add to the pan, mix and serve.

N.B. This is a curry that invariably tastes better a day later, so make enough to leave some over.

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