This curry ticks every box I need it to.
It’s packed with vibrant and warming spices and both the aubergine and sweet potato act as sponge vessels that carry them, so every mouthful is as exciting as the next.
If you like it with a little less heat, remove the seeds from the chilli but even the fire breathers among us will appreciate the cool, creamy balm of the coconut raita on the side for respite.
This recipe is of course open to adaption and variation, and I have pivoted in an hour of need when my kitchen pantry wasn’t playing ball. I’ve swapped out the sweet potato for butternut squash (and found that I didn’t need to alter the cooking time) and have also swapped the aubergine for thickly cut courgettes. There’s also a strong case to be made for stirring through some spinach or kale for the last few minutes of the cooking time if you wanted to bolster the offering, but truth be told, I only do this when I have some begging leaves left in the fridge that are dying for attention.
You can tackle the prep two different ways.
You can either make the raita and paste three days in advance and then cook the curry on the day you need it, or you could make it all in advance and store the cooked curry in the fridge for 4 -5 days, reheating gently but thoroughly in a pan when you need it.
That way, it leaves your hands free to get a side dish ready should you want to. Speaking of which, while I am no stranger to eating this curry with nothing but a fork and warm Naan Bread (and you can find a recipe for Za’atar Naan Breads here) but when serving others, I like to serve it with the Fridge Pickles here and also make a big, steaming pot of Baked Cardamom Butter Rice to go alongside.
For this, all you need to do is add 250g long-grain rice, a tablespoon of unsalted butter, a pinch of salt and pepper and ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom to a small roasting dish.
Pour in 500ml of hot water from the kettle and tightly scrunch some foil on top of the dish. Put the dish in an oven preheated to 180°C for 20 – 25 minutes. Once the time is up, remove from the oven, fluff the rice up with a fork and place a tea towel over the top of the dish. Leave this to stand while you get on with the curry.
Serves 4 – 6
For the raita
200g coconut yogurt
A handful of fresh mint
A handful of fresh coriander
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon garam masala
2 spring onions
For the curry paste
75g roast red peppers (drained from a jar)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon all spice
2 tablespoons tomato purée
1 red chilli – green stalk removed
1 clove garlic – peeled
A thumb sized piece of peeled fresh ginger
1 onion – peeled and roughly chopped
A handful of fresh coriander – stalks and all
½ teaspoon sugar
For the curry
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large aubergines – cut into small chunks
Approximately 450g sweet potato (peeled weight) – peeled and cut into small chunks
1 x 400ml can of coconut milk
300ml vegetable stock
A handful of fresh coriander to serve
- For the raita, spoon the yogurt into a medium-sized bowl and add a generous pinch of salt. Chop the cucumber, mint, and coriander as finely as you can and add to the yogurt.
- Grate the garlic into the bowl with a fine grater and stir to combine everything together. Before serving, dust a little garam masala on the surface of the dip using your fingertips and finally snip the spring onions and scatter over the top.
- For the curry paste, do nothing more than combine all of the listed ingredients and blitz to a thick, smooth paste with a stick blender. It will look like you’ve made way more than you need, but you’ll need, and want, it all.
- When you’re ready to make the curry, heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pan that comes with a lid, and spoon the paste in when the oil is hot. Push the paste around, frying it on a medium heat for about 10 minutes or so. You may cry because of the blitzed onion but your tears are a fair sacrifice. It’ll be worth it.
- Add in the chopped aubergine and sweet potato, tossing the chunks about gently in the pan so that they are coated in the paste. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes or so.
- Tip in the can of coconut milk, using a spoon to force out the creamy bit at the top if you need to. Pour in the vegetable stock, squeeze in the juice of the lime and stir everything together. Bring the pan to a boil, place the lid on the pan and turn the heat down to low and cook for 45 minutes, just stirring every now and then.
- Check the sweet potato is soft and then take off the heat. Leave to stand for about 15 minutes and then serve.