We experienced a warm spell this week that threw everything into a muddle. Suddenly, the urge to curl up inside with a heavy, hearty dish went out my open window and in came a craving for curry.
I love hot curry flavors any time of year but particularly in summer when a spicy curry seems to make sense with scorching heat. While the cold will return soon enough, a curried dish without the hot spice is just as satisfying on the sleety windswept day that follows.
Root Vegetables in a Coconut Curry sauce is a very simple dish to prepare but that makes it no less satisfying. When you use fresh, best-quality ingredients, you need to do very little. It also helps to have a few items in the pantry to make a dish happen. For me, a good curry powder blend is essential for quick meals.
Unfortunately, finding fresh spices is almost impossible. A traditional curry spice blend usually entails toasting spices and seeds then grinding into a powder. Sadly, this extra, and usually rather messy step, would ensure I ate curries less often. It also doesn’t necessarily mean the curry powder is fresh, as the seeds and spices are often dulled by time and processing.
Last week at the Great Falls Farmers Market I was introduced to Spiced. Formed by a husband and wife team in Lorton, Va, Spiced uses liquid nitrogen to freeze dry herbs, spices and vegetables to preserve flavors, aromas, colors and even nutritional properties.
Carrying home a tin of Spiced’s Japanese Curry Powder, I put it to the test. After a stir of onions in a pot slicked with coconut oil, I add just a few spoonfuls of the deep ochre powder. Immediately I am hit with the heady aroma of smoky turmeric and cumin, which are familiar in a curry powder but it was the subsequent waft of citrus, cloves and star anise that immediately fills the house and made this blend unusual and special.
In the pot, the curry powder, onions and garlic form a slurry that cooks for a minute or two before adding coconut milk and broth. My root vegetables need only to be peeled and cut into cubes, then placed into the curry coconut broth where they simmer until soft.
The vegetables blanketed in their pungent curry sauce are poured into bowl over a pile of basmati rice. The star anise and orange spices in the curry powder make this dish earthy and warming, not hot and spicy. In the summer, I will add a bit of heat from small hot peppers that make its way to the market in July and August.
Regardless of what winter looked like yesterday or what it looks like tomorrow, this root vegetable curry makes sense today. It’s easy to make and I think you’ll like it, too.
For more information about Spiced*, visit the Great Falls Winter Farmers Market on Saturdays at the Great Falls Grange, 9818 Georgetown Pike, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Or, visit www.spicedforyou.com. This week’s market features a bag full of ingredients and a recipe for Root Vegetables in a Coconut Curry Sauce, including a spice packet of Japanese Curry Powder.
*I mention Spiced only as a courtesy as I think it is a great local find. I received a free sample to try but I do not receive any compensation for my mention nor did it influence my positive review. I am going to buy my own supply this weekend. 🙂
- 4 Cups Root vegetables, peeled and cut into bite-size cubes (for this recipe I used 2 carrots, 2 turnips, 2 white beets, 1 large sweet potato)
- 2 large handfuls of kale, remove center stalk and chop into small pieces
- 1-2 handfuls of shredded red cabbage
- 1 Large onion or (2) small onions
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons curry powder (I used Spiced's Japanese Curry Powder)
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 13.5 oz. can of organic coconut milk (do not use low fat and make sure label states can has BPA-free lining)
- 2 Tablespoons soy or fish sauce, to taste
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the onion in half vertically, peel and slice off the ends, place each half on the cutting board and cut each halve into four quarters. Separate the pieces.
- Melt or heat oil in a large stockpot.
- Add onion pieces and toss with the oil to coat. Cook over medium heat until the onion begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add curry powder and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes until the powder begins to stick to the pan.
- Add the broth, stir to combine.
- Add the coconut milk, increase heat to medium high and bring just to a boil.
- Once the mixture begins to bubble, add the root vegetables and kale, lower heat to a simmer (barely bubbles)
- Cover the pot and let vegetables simmer until softened. Check while cooking to make sure mixture does not come to a full boil as the coconut milk could separate. It should barely bubble when covered.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt, if necessary
- *Check your curry powder as some include salt.
- Serve over steamed basmati rice.
Shrimp or a sturdy fish cut into pieces can be added to the sauce for the last few minutes to cook through.
Apple pieces can be added to the root vegetables.
Cashews, dried coconut flakes and soaked raisins are other possible add-ins before serving.