Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Curry for a Crowd

My daughter is going on her first missions trip to Thailand at the end of this year and to prepare her taste buds our family has been enjoying my first experimental curries. I'm not too fond of overly hot or spicy food, however, having now cooked up quite a number of these curries over the past few months, I have to say that green and red Thai curry pastes are now an essential item on my shopping list.

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!

The second main ingredient being steamed in the top tier is a small - medium sized cauliflower - chopped up stalk and all.

Once the rice is cooked and drained and transferred to an ovenproof dish and the self draining steamer baskets of vegetables removed, I reuse the same stockpot to cook the curry.

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,

Posted by Picasa


Christy said...

Yum Yum!! Thanks for sharing this recipe Ann! We LOVE Thai food in our house - my girls favorite is vegetarian pad thai noodles and green curry too!

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

I love curry....Any curry...I love them all!
That sounds very light and tasty!
I am interested to know why you do not eat shellfish?
Is it because????
I don't either but purely because I do not like it.
So just interested?

Unknown said...

This sounds delicious, I am just starting to think about warmimg winter foods and this curry would certainly hit the spot, with lots of pumpkins in the garden it should be a winner!

Ann at eightacresofeden said...

We don't eat shellfish for health reasons as we follow the principles of Jordan Rubin's Maker's Diet, gave up the pork products too, several years ago. Knowing that shellfish are bottom feeders and accumulate toxins was enough information for me and I was never really fond of shellfish anyway. They are always closing up the oyster beds here because of contamination and I've read too many stories about people suffering food poisoning after consuming shellfish. Having said that I did used to enjoy NZ mussels when I knew they were being harvested from clean waters!

Christy said...

HI Ann,
we tried your curry tonight with Massaman curry paste (it was the only one i had)- what a hit!! Everyone ate it and wanted seconds!! Thanks heaps :D

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Thanks for that Insight Ann.
I know My Husband who loves Fish has even changed the way he buys Fish due to research he did....The whole mercury thing and all.
It is refreshing to read of your Deep held belief about food.

Niki said...

Oh Ann, such comfort food on a winters night.
I love thai green curry. I am always looking for recipes to lower our red meat & chicken intake. It seems during winter I find it a little easier with all the curries, stirfrys, soups & egg dishes.
This ones a keeper, will try it tomorrow night after the shopping run.
I will serve it with half white & half brown rice-kids not quite come around to all brown rice yet & the mixture is nuttier & lighter at once & something they seem to like & the yummy yoghurt. I always sprinkled finely chopped red capsicum on my curries for garnish, I find they are too expensive here to use as a stock vegetable. Once again love to your beautiful family, Niki

SF said...

Ann, this looks absolutely wonderful!! I have been waiting for your pumpkin curry recipe - just need to buy a pumpkin at the market tomorrow, and I can try it out! Thanks for sharing. :) xo

Renata said...

Hi Ann
This looks delicious! Thanks for sharing - we love thai food & I enjoy experimenting with new dishes! I really enjoyed reading your little hints & tips about the different foods you buy - as I'm part way through nourishing traditions (up to the recipes) I found how you make your choices very interesting. Where do you buy your grain for your homemade bread? Surely I can find somewhere around here that grows organic wheat (either that or grow some, but it would be a pain to harvest only a few acres).
I have a mezzaluna in my drawer & I've never used it:) - will have to pull it out next time I use some of my herbs.
Have a lovely day.
Renata :)

Elinor said...

Have to say the curries are a big thing in our household... but I have a secret weapon - my husband is Fijian Indian and he cooks 'divine' Indian cuisine... the wonderful thing about Indian food is that it can be cooked so inexpensively which was a big help when we have been on a tight budget while he has been finishing off his apprenticeship. He makes meat and vegetable dishes - right from scratch and without any recipes...

Molly Betsy @ Star Cottage said...

Oh my! I love curry ;) I will have to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing.
Many Blessings,

Camille said...

OH Ann...we LOVE curries!! I will have to return when I am on my own computer and can save this recipe to print!! Thanks for sharing. I also enjoyed your Mother's Day post...your little man is very adorable and your new haircut is very becoming. Such blessings!

In His Love,


Blog Widget by LinkWithin