Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Curry for a Crowd
Why am I so keen to serve up curry to my family? Here are my reasons.
1. They are so easy to prepare.
2. They use readily available ingredients/produce.
3. They are easy on the family budget, especially if you leave out the meat.
4.You can easily expand the recipe to feed a crowd - I recently made one big pot of curry which served up at least 30 lunch size portions for a missions fundraiser at my church. All you need is an extra pumpkin, extra onions, extra tinned tomatoes. Large bags of rice - it is not that hard and quite a crowd pleaser! And be aware I'm a real novice at making curry so it shows just how simple they are to make!
5. They are full of flavour!
6. You serve curry with rice - for us that is nutty, flavoursome, nutritious, low GI brown rice. I haven't used white rice for a number of years after reading 'Nourishing Traditions'. I'm also tired of sticky, stodgy white pasta dishes and my food budget does not stretch to quinoa, spelt or rice pastas which can cost over $5 plus a packet!
7. My husband really likes curry! Keeping a man happy is always a good reason!
8. My children all love curry except when I was a little too daring and upped the curry paste one day - they were all grabbing their water glasses at once, I knew I had gone too far!
I think I'm getting it right now so I'm ready to share my recipe for a Thai style pumpkin curry.
I have made this dish in my large wok and yesterday I threw all the ingredients into my slow cooker - the only note to self was to add less liquid next time but the slow cooking certainly brought out all the flavours and the vegetables held their shape, were soft and tender but not mushy.
Most times though, I use my stainless steel stockpot which has two steamer baskets. It is my second stockpot, a recent purchase and those steamer baskets are fantastic. If you don't have a steamer or steamer baskets and you are planning on buying a new stockpot, do consider buying one that comes with steamer baskets. I should have bought one years ago! And do buy a good brand with a heavy duty base. My stockpot is a Baccarat' and I'm very happy with it. I learned years ago that cheap stock pots are just not worth it. How many times did I burn the bottom of the pan when making jam or cooking pasta? I'm not going to tell you!
So in my stockpot, the rice is cooking in the boiling water and the main ingredient a peeled and diced up small - medium sized butternut pumpkin is being gently steamed in the first steamer basket. I particularly like the sweetness of the butternut variety for this dish but have also used a Jap with a good flavour result. I've cooked the rice first to take advantage of having a steamer. Brown rice takes longer to cook and I've found it is fine warmed up later. I used to cook the rice just before serving but find I can become preoccupied with caring for a baby at dinner time. I often prepare this meal for the evening at lunch time. This allows plenty of time for the curry to simmer away and the aroma fills the house. Love it!
cauliflower - chopped up stalk and all.
1. I use coconut oil to fry 2-3 large diced onions, red or brown. I love the sweetness of the red onions.
I always try to buy organic having been informed of how commercial onions are laid out on a sheet after harvest and sprayed with chemicals.
2.In with the onion, a good dollop of minced garlic and minced ginger. This is probably 2-3 tsps maybe more but I like to say dollop - doesn't everyone know what a dollop is? Use fresh or keep a jar handy in the fridge. I always read the label to check for preservatives and avoid imported garlic which is fumigated upon arrival in the country.
3. Then the essential ingredient - green curry paste or red if you are going to be using beef. I use the 'Ayam' brand found at Woolworths. It is made with anchovies rather than shrimp (we don't eat shellfish) and does not have any artificial ingredients and no added MSG. How much you use is entirely up to you - again for me it is a dollop! It says 'moderate heat' on the jar - my several dollops had the children reaching for their water but one good dollop seems to make a mild but satisfying dish.
4. Once the onion is golden I add in the rest of the ingredients - the steamed cauliflower and pumpkin, cook them gently allowing the seasonings to coat the veggies before adding the following-
2 tins diced tomatoes - another of my pantry essentials and
vegetable stock - 1 cube dissolved in 500ml boiling water - as the curry simmers away I have more stock prepared ready to add in should I need to. I turn the heat down and let the curry simmer for at least 1 hour. I keep a check on it to see if any extra liquid is needed and to adjust the seasoning but that is about it!
Such a tasty family meal for so little cost using so few ingredients. As this is a Thai style curry I do stir in a can of coconut cream before taking it off the heat and I confess to adding in a dollop of a secret, magic ingredient which you probably don't have in your pantry.
Sweet and tangy home made tamarillo and apple chutney. We have to plant more of these trees - this is the last jar for the season!
And every curry deserves a bowl of cool, creamy plain minted yogurt on the table.
Aldi's Greek style yogurt is fabulous - so creamy and perfect for cooking and very good value for money. There is always a tub in my fridge. The magic ingredient which imparts that coolness to counteract the heat of the curry is mint, freshly picked from the garden and finely shredded with another utensil I wish I had discovered years ago - the mezzaluna. If you grow and use herbs you need one of these babies! Good for chopping nuts too!
And there it is, a vegetable curry which is now a family favourite. I'm about to have a lunch time serving now - I always make more than enough to have leftovers for lunch. My daughter stole some of the pumpkin last night and made a sweet pumpkin pie. She has been frequenting Southern USA cooking sites and having tasted this pie - well I'm heading into my garden and willing those pumpkins to grow. Don't you just love such a versatile vegetable!
With Love and Joy,