Thursday, April 30, 2009

West Indian Vegetable Curry

Before I get into this recipe, I have this preface:
If you do not dig tempeh, you can totally substitute with chicken, beef, lamb or shrimp (1 pound of one of these will do). OK, now that's said...

Tempeh! Ah, what an easy, recession-friendly ingredient for a healthy vegetable curry in a hurry (and when I say hurry, I mean it—30 minutes and it’s suppertime!). This is a great dish to try if you’ve never cooked with tempeh before. It's made from fermented soy beans, so if you don’t like the texture of tofu, this is perfect for you because it is hearty and chewy, more like nuts or beans.

I highly recommend you try making some shockingly simple whole wheat breads from scratch to go with this fantastic curry. See below for a simple roti recipe and how-to video. Trust me, 15 minutes and 2 or 3 pennies later (that’s seriously all it takes to make authentic, homemade Indian bread!), you will have elevated your dinner to restaurant quality and your snack mates will grin from ear to ear. Girlscout promise on that one.


Serves 4

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 package tempeh, cut into 1-inch pieces
(my favorite is Litelife Flax tempeh)
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 sweet pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks (any color bell or an Italian frying pepper will do)
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
2-3 Tbs. curry powder (prepared or use a yummy recipe below)
1 handful of golden raisins or dried cranberries (or both)
1 handful of roasted cashews
1 14-oz. can of lite coconut milk
1-2 Tbs. water
Salt & pepper
Squeeze of lemon or lime (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Steamed brown rice (short-grain non-instant brown rice is my favorite)
Whole Wheat roti breads (recipe is below)

1. Cook 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water, according to package directions. If serving roti breads, prepare the dough now and set it aside. While rice is cooking and bread dough is resting, prepare the curry.

2. Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add garlic, and stir for a minute. Then add chopped peppers and onions. Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring so it doesn’t stick. Add broccoli and tempeh. Stir.

3. Stir in the coconut milk, water, and curry powder. Add raisins, cashews, optional lemon juice, salt & pepper, and stir. Allow this mixture to simmer very gently on low for 10 minutes or so, or until the broccoli is fork tender but still bright green. Cover skillet and remove from heat.

4. If serving roti breads, prepare them now.

To serve:
scoop a big, happy, heap of curry over a mound of hot brown rice. Scoop up all the juices and goodness with the fresh roti breads. You can eat the entire dish with your hands (which is so much more fun than a fork if you ask me), using the roti as your scooper. Eat. Smile. Have seconds. Wash it down with ice cold beer. Sigh in snack-satisfaction.

(makes 4 breads)

½ cup whole wheat flour
Pinch of salt
¼ cup lukewarm water
¼ tsp. oil

To learn how to make these breads perfectly, just watch this 7-minute video of a sweet and gifted Indian woman making these breads. Seriously, that is how I learned. I love her; I want her to be my auntie. CLICK HERE: FLAT INDIAN ROTIS

In a small bowl, mix the above with your hand, forming a soft dough.
Note: put a couple drops of oil on your hand to knead dough without it sticking all over your hands.

Put the dough onto a cutting board and divide into 4 even-sized pieces, and roll into nice little meatball shapes. Flatten a bit. Let them rest 5-10 minutes (very important step for the bread to come out soft and tender!)

In a dry cast iron or non-stick skillet, turn heat onto medium high.
Dip a ball into a little flour. Rollout to 5-inch diameter with rolling pin or a wine bottle.

Place the flat bread dough into the hot skillet.
Peek underneath to make sure it is not burning.
Once bubbles form on top, flip it over. There will be golden brown spots on top.

Turn it once again, and it will bubble. Press the bubbles into a circular motion with a spatula and the bread will puff up like a big puffy bread bubble.

Flip over, remove and spread with a little butter or ghee.

Layer rotis in a dish lined with papertowel then cover the dish to keep the steam in – this is very important to keep the bread soft and moist!

Homemade Amazing Curry Powder

2 tablespoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon crushed dried red pepper flakes
2 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground yellow mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium skillet or saute pan combine all and cook over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, until spices are fragrant and just beginning to smoke. This will smell very pungent and savory, much stronger than it will taste as it cooks in prepared dishes! Remove from the heat, transfer to a shallow plate and allow to cool completely. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer. Use in any dish that calls for curry powder. This is authentic and yummy.


Natashya said...

Sounds tasty and nutritious, I haven't worked with tempeh in over 20 years, I should give it a try again.

flappergirl said...

Hi Natashya!
I also recently rediscovered tempeh. It is such a friendly and underrated food! That said, this recipe would work just as well omitting the tempeh and adding in a 1/2 pound of shrimp, chicken, lamb, or beef tenders in its place. :)

Henry Krinkle said...

These pictures transported me to exotic forests, and your description of tempeh creates strong appeal for skeptics of soy products. Great work, Flapper!

flappergirl said...

Hi Henry :) I'm glad you liked my parsley forest. If food forests appeal to you, you might also enjoy an occasional visit to the Enchanted Broccoli Forest!

Jessica Martiele said...

So here's the real question: where on earth do we FIND Tempeh? I'm willing to give it a whirl; health food store? Whole Foods? Asian market?

Looks WONDERFUL. I LOVE Indian food. And the Roti? Top of my list of "things to do with my kids tomorrow." I'll let you know how it goes. THANKS!!!

flappergirl said...

Hi Jessica!
Tempeh can be found in the refrigerated section next to the tofu. It is sold in all the major grocery stores and health food stores (definitely Whole Foods), so hopefully you should have no prob finding it. And if you can't find it, you can always use chicken, beef, shrimp or lamb. Have fun with the rotis!!! :)

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