And the Winner Is: Curry! (Plus a Bonus!)

Recently, I came to you with a question: I asked you what YOU wanted to see on FoodHappy.

And you - to my delight! - offered up a culinary kaleidoscope of suggestions. From the practical to the whimsical, the simple to the complex, and the familiar to the exotic, you guys thought of it all!

So today, I’m getting started on bringing you recipes for the things that you want to see. And, as promised, I’m kicking it off with the dish that got (by far!) the most votes: 

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Curry. 

And not just any curry. 

To satisfy the six requests for curry that came my way (via comments and in person), I needed to find an intensely flavourful, coconut-based dish, packed with veggies and with enough protein-based oomph - preferably in the form of tofu - to satisfy vegetarians and omnivores alike. Oh, and it couldn’t be too hard to make. 

So, friends, here’s what I’ve got:  

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Korma. Delicious, wonderful korma. 

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Here’s why: 

1. It fits the bill!
As is, the recipe below provides everything that Team Curry collectively asked for: it’s rich, fragrant, hugely flavourful, packed with tons of veggies, tofu and two kinds of coconut, and is easy on the hard work (most of the work is prep, and simple prep at that - stuff like measuring ingredients and washing veggies). Success! 

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2. You can make it as easy or complex as you like!
Want to toast spices or make (awesome) curry paste from scratch? I’ve got you covered! Not so sure? I’ve got you covered too! (Though you should totally make the curry paste - all you’ve got to do is toss some stuff in a food processor and give it a whirl for 30 seconds. You can do that! I believe in you!) 

3. It’s infinitely adaptable. 
You guys all have different tastes, so I’ve chosen a recipe that can be easily adapted to suit you! Make it as is, and you’ll get an intensely flavourful, mildly spicy curry full of easy-to-find veggies and protein-rich tofu. But don’t be afraid to: 

  • Swap tofu for legumes (like chickpeas). Or use both!
  • Use different vegetables. (Just remember: some veggies take longer to cook than others, so give some thought to when each veggie should be added to the pot. Not sure what to do? Just ask!)
  • Make it more or less spicy by adjusting the amount of cayenne and the number of chiles. (Remember: the heat in chiles comes from the fluffy white membrane and not the crunchy flesh.)
  • Swap almonds for other nuts (cashews would be awesome!).
  • Omit - cilantro-haters rejoice! - the cilantro from the korma and curry paste recipes. I’ve done it before, and it was still delicious!  

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4. You don’t need to go into the spice trade to make it.
Oftentimes, curry recipes call for a lot of different spices. And for someone who’s new to curry, or who doesn’t have time to track down obscure stuff like asafoetida, those recipes - however delicious they sound - can be intimidating. So I’m giving you a recipe that calls for four dry spices at most, all of which are super-easy to find! And the rest of the flavour? That comes from fresh ingredients. And, wouldn’t you know, they’re easy to find too!  

(Spice junkies, have no fear: I haven’t forgotten you; I’m one of you. Later this week, I’ll share with you a fun way to get your spice fix.) 

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THE AWESOME BONUS
I’ve been misleading you. How is that awesome, you ask?

I’m not going to just give you a curry recipe. Over the next week, I’m going to share with you a bunch of cool recipes that’ll help you take your next curry-themed feast to the next level.

But first, we need curry, so let’s get down to it! 

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Vegetable Korma 
Inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (which, by the way, is an awesome book. From the premise - encouraging people to cook, together! - to the design, to the recipes, it’s great! I’d highly recommend it to anyone - novice or not!)
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
Olive or vegetable oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely-chopped*
1 small bunch of cilantro, leaves and stalks separated and stalks finely chopped
1 small pat of butter 
1 lb firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch rounds 
1 14-oz can of coconut milk
2 heaping tbsp unsweetened dried shredded coconut
1 heaping tbsp sliced almonds, plus more for serving
Roughly 1 cup of korma curry paste**
3/4 cup of water
1 cup of frozen peas
Salt to taste
Plain yogurt and fresh lemon for serving (optional) 

Directions

1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or pan over medium-high. Once oil is hot, add onions, ginger, 2 tbsp of chopped cilantro stalks and butter and stir to coat. Cook until onions are golden, stirring frequently to prevent burning, roughly 10 minutes. 
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2. Stir in tofu, cauliflower, carrots, coconut milk, shredded coconut, almonds, curry paste and water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until veggies are tender (you want little bubbles popping here and there, but not giant bubbles exploding all over the place). Check every 10 minutes or so, giving it a stir and adjusting the heat and/or adding a bit of water if it looks like it’s drying out.*** 
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3. Once veggies are tender, stir in frozen peas, give them a minute to heat up, then remove curry from the heat. Taste and adjust with salt. To serve, ladle curry over cooked rice. Top with reserved cilantro leaves and slivered almonds, along with a dollop of plain yogurt and a squeeze of lemon, if you’re so inclined! 
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*I keep my ginger in the freezer - when frozen, its stringy fibers are no match for a grater (it also keeps for longer)! But if you’re using ginger that isn’t frozen, I’d recommend finely-chopping rather than grating (otherwise you’ll have a mess of fibers on your hands).
**Either use the curry paste recipe below, or substitute a store-bought coconut curry paste. Jamie Oliver, interested only in getting you to cook good food, recommends using Patak’s mild curry paste (Patak’s is tasty stuff!). If you go that route, start with 1/2 a cup of curry paste and adjust upwards until you’ve reached the level of flavour you’re after. 
***I kept mine at a simmer and didn’t need to add any water. But if yours looks dry, don’t be afraid to add a splash or two! 
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Korma Curry Paste
Adapted from jamieoliver.com
Makes ~1 cup (enough for one batch of korma)
Note: The original korma recipe calls for only 1/2 cup of curry paste, but I find that the end result is too mild for my taste, so I use all of what the recipe below - a doubled and tweaked version of the original - makes. If you like milder curries, I’d recommend you make the recipe below and initially add only 1/2 cup of paste to your korma. Give the korma a stir, taste, and add more paste until you’ve reached a level of intensity that suits you!

Ingredients
4 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
4 cloves of garlic, skins removed
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 jalapeno, half of the seeds and membranes removed (don’t use your fingers to remove the seeds, or you’ll burn yourself!)
1 cup of packed cilantro leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp oil (peanut, vegetable, or olive - nothing wild and crazy)
6 tablespoons unsweetened dried shredded coconut
4 tbsp ground almonds*
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sea salt (or a scant tsp regular salt)

Directions

1. Toast cumin seeds and coriander seeds in a dry pan over medium-high heat until fragrant and starting to brown (roughly 2-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your pan). Grind seeds in a food processor, spice grinder or mortar and pestle until powdery.** Add the remainder of the ingredients to the processor and process until smooth.
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*If you’ve got almonds on hand, you can grind them yourself using a food processor or spice grinder.
**Spices that you’ve toasted and ground yourself will be more flavourful than pre-ground spices. But you can certainly skip the toasting and grinding and use pre-ground spices instead. I toasted whole spices…and then forgot to grind them. Next time though!

That’s a wrap for today. But remember: keep tuning in this week for cool curry-esque recipes that’ll take curry night to the next level! 

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