There are very few savoury dishes on this blog. Even fewer are vegetarian. Oh, some of them only have a bit of bacon or ham, and for several years I was under the misapprehension that that was ‘close enough’. But my delusion was soon to be shattered, as my husband informed me that he does not relish eating bacon, ham, or any other type of processed meat for that matter. He wondered whether perhaps I could put some truly vegetarian dishes on the menu. I accepted the challenge to widen my repertoire, and this unassuming, mild vegetable curry was the first to get the thumbs up.
Neither Alex nor Theo enjoy the spicy curries I prefer. Their attitude to spice brings back a favourite memory from when I lived in Thailand. Of the staff at our office, half were Thai and half were ‘farang’ (foreigners). Most days we would buy a plate of noodles or whatever curry was on offer down the street. But this day my Thai colleagues voted to buy lunch from the market. The market was five minutes’ walk in the midday heat, and two of them offered to take orders and bring them back. Everything was made to order, even down to how many chilies (one, two, three, many) you wanted.
I thought they would have known me well enough by then to know that I liked my curries quite hot. But they had forgotten, and assumed a level of spiciness commensurate with less adventurous farang. Once they arrived back, we all huddled around the small lunch room table and proceeded to dig in. “Aroy mai?” Is it delicious? They asked, as they did every day at lunch. Usually I would respond politely with “Aroy! Aroy mak” Delicious, very delicious! but today my response was to tease them with a Thai saying. I replied, “Mai aroy. Mai pet, mai aroy”. Not delicious. If it’s not spicy, it’s not delicious!
How about you? Are you a big fan of spice, or do you prefer your curries mild, like this one?
Red lentil and cauliflower curry
This curry may not be spicy, but we think it’s delicious!
Serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon oil or butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 leeks, sliced
1 teaspoon curry powder, more to taste
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
500g cauliflower, cut into small florets
125g green beans, chopped into 1-inch pieces
125 (¾ cup) fresh or frozen green peas
1/3 cup red lentils
1 large vegetable stock cube, crumbled (I used Massel brand)
2 cups boiling water
1/3 cup raisins or sultanas
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander, plus more to serve
1 fresh lime, cut into quarters, to serve
Heat oil or butter in a large heavy based pot, add garlic, leeks, curry powder, cumin and turmeric, cook for about 2 minutes or until leeks are just soft.
Add cauliflower, beans, peas, lentils, stock cube, water, raisins and coriander to leek mixture. Bring to boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender but not mushy.
Serve over steamed rice topped with extra chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime.