RECIPE: Red Peppers + Courgette Curry
Red peppers and courgettes (zucchini): Using 4 key spices and express shortcuts one of my family's favourite dishes can be knocked out...
Recipe feeds 3-4 • Vegetarian/Halal
Tips: use sunflower oil for better cooking results; splash in 1 tablespoon of water to prevent sticking at early stages; coriander is not a girly garnish, chuck in a handful toward the end
The thing with cooking on the stove and a proper sub-continent style at that is that it takes ages. I mean, what, slicing 5lb of onions with 4lb of half-alive meat and 2lb of poisonous spices only to be found hours laters, days even, bleary eyed with bleeding fingers hiding in the storage cupboard - ? 'Aint nobody got time for that.
I have a lifelong motto for such recipes, much to the disdain of my mother: if they take more than 5 minutes, they aren't worth it. So, if Nigella and Jamie can throw out a masterpiece the express way, here's a proper Pakistani way to do it. Cheats, cheaps un'all.
Note, a traditional "curry" is cooked with any regional ingredient for a soupy texture such as plain yoghurt or coconut milk, or because of the spices, heat and flavours for a multi-step recipe.
Red Peppers + Courgette Curry
• 2 medium sized white onions (red will also do)
• 1/4 teaspoon of salt
• 1 level teaspoon of chilli powder (or to taste)
- Alternatively, de-seed 2 red chillies and finely slice; for a stronger and longer kick, finely chop 2 whole green chillies. Wash hands after.
• 2-3 garlic cloves (or to taste)
• 1 heaped tablespoon of ground coriander seeds
• ½ teaspoon of crushed cumin seeds
• ½ teaspoon of ginger power
• 2 tomatoes, diced
• 2 teaspoons of tomato puree
• 1 large potato, peeled and diced to 1cm cubes
• 3-4 red bell peppers, cored and diced to bite-size chunks
• 2-3 medium sized courgettes - cut the tops and ends, slice in half, dice
1. Stick a pan on high heat, don't let it smoke. Pour in enough oil to just cover the base.
Throw in the onions, reduce heat to medium. Stir every 1-2 minutes with a wooden spoon until translucent. Then add the salt (extracts water), 1-2 tablespoons of water and increase heat until the onions begin to brown.
Cheats: Add a dollop of onion paste available from markets or heat up a pack of cooked onions that have already been caramalised.
2. Add the chilli power and/or fresh chillies in now, stir and reduce the heat. Add half the chopped tomatoes. Cover the lid to avoid excessive coughing and wailing of 'Ya Allah, why didn't we order take-away instead..?!' Wait 2 minutes only. Then uncover...
3. That's the hard part. And now press the garlic through a crusher and add straight into the pan, bin the skins. Stir. Add 1 tablespoon of water if sticking. Keep on a medium-high heat.
4. Add all the spices. Stir. Taste to season. Add only the potatoes and courgettes.
Cheats: blitz all the spices, tomatoes, puree and garlic to a chunky-fine mixture, add to the browned onions and fry on high-heat for 5-6 minutes before topping with boiled water and then adding the main veg.
5. Pour in 200ml of boiled water and stir every 3-4 minutes until the potatoes begin to soften.
6. Finally add the tomato and puree, the bell peppers and cook until the potatoes break easily and the courgettes wilt to a soft texture. Avoid breaking the peppers down, we like their crunch.
Done. Serve with Greek or local farm yoghurt, toasted sliced baguettes or brown rice.
For extra awesome sauce consider sacrificing 7 minutes to roast the peppers sliced while boiling the potatoes separately. A sprig of rosemary is our friend, pop it in along with the potatoes. Be liberal with fresh coriander leaves.
Jamie Oliver, eat your dil out.
Peace + eco-jihad. Zaufishan,
The Eco Muslim