We had this for breakfast! Might not be everyones bowl of morning happiness but Jane and I love curry for brekkie, a pleasant habit we picked up at train stations and little bus stops in India. We wanted the all-time classic ‘Chana Masala’, but we didn’t have chickpeas!? What’s going on there?!! I feel like I have failed our household. Still, it lead to this creation which I was so pleased with, I felt the urge to share and write and celebrate the beauty of a simple curry.
SPICY WAKE UP CALL
We were getting tired of the smoothies and bowls of nuts and fruits and things routine, we wanted some SPICE in our early, sleepy eyed life! When the grey tickles us, as it can at this time of year, we need to put some rainbow flavours and magic into our food. Spices are magic dust right?! Does any food have as much pizazz and down right tastiness as a deep and potent curry? It can enliven the senses. The sheer complexity of flavours mingling and merging, having a massive party all over your taste buds? This curry doesn’t have to be eaten for brekkie, but do let us know if you try. Ditch the fry up this Sunday AM and get spicy!!
I’ve been to India many times, it has become my second home. I love living a life of contrasts, living on a hill in middle of nowhere, slightly mossy, Wales, straight to the honking depths of down town Delhi, thats my kind of contrast. Mix things up. Keep things vibrant and interesting. For me, India is the country with everything going on within its borders, travel there is rich. I know I go on about the food all the time, but, it is incredible. Consistently. Mind boggling in variety. Like I’ve died and gone to a Dhaba.
HIDDEN TREASURES (AND PICKLES)
If you’re looking for the best spices and Indian/ Pakistani/ Bangladeshi/ Nepalese etc ingredients, I recommend a regular visit to your local Asian shop/ supermarket. It’s where all the best ingredients will be hiding and normally for very reasonable prices. I find them a perfect location for spice worship. Eastern cooking treasure troves, designed for real food lovers to disappear into for days, reappearing with carfull’s of fantastic ingredients, pickles and inspiration.
I say, take the afternoon off and have a good luck around, ask for help and guidance. For me they’re like a flavour library for a cook, sifting through the ingredients and always finding something new and interesting to take home and play with in the kitchen.
The curry powder we used here was recommended to us by an Indian man in one of my favourite Asian supermarkets in Newcastle. He wasn’t wrong, its brilliant, fiery and fragrant. Curry powder has a bit of a bad name, but its just the same as any spice mix like bharat, ras el hanout etc. If you buy a decent one, it works well. Of course, making your own is the holy grail of any spice enthusiast. But having the time and means to do that can be a challenge. This is a quick dish, so lets keep it simple.
This is no traditional curry, but its not far off. I’ve made this curry super easy for you, I’d love you to cook and enjoy it! With only two spice mixes, garam masala and curry powder, which most of you will have knocking about in your cupboards and a quick cooking time.
If you don’t have the spice mixes, just try making your own up using things like turmeric, cumin and coriander for the curry mix, adding a little cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom for the garam masala. Could be a very nice experiment! I add red lentils to thicken the sauce up and make things hearty and substantial. I used pumpkin, because its their ultra orange time of year, but use any vegetables you like here and a nice idea is stirring some greens in just before serving, a couple of handfuls of spinach leaves is cool.
In Nirvana, this is breakfast!
I like the curry quite thin, more a thick daal than a chunky curry. Better for dipping warm chappatis into! The lentils will just keep sucking up the water, so just keep some warm water handy when cooking, preferably a recently boiled kettle (easier) and top up the water as you fancy.
Mash it up!! Your garlic and ginger and chilli as best you can, blending them or whacking them in a pestle and mortar is best. Releasing all their vibrant potential.
Leaving the curry to cool slighty, let it sit for 10 minutes with a lid on, will help the flavours to mix and mingle, get deep and meaningful.
I’ve gone easy on the chillies because Jane is anti-chilli, but you go wild if you like!
The lemon and coriander to finish are extras, but the lemon especially, will add a lovely citrus twist to the generally sweet curry, it also seems to re-vitalise the spices a little, bring the flavours to some kind of glorious crescendo!!!! Swadishtx
The chickpea chapatis in the photos are made by whisking some gram flour, water and salt together, until a double cream texture forms, and frying in a little oil. Simple, gluten-free, healthy, tasty…….
Simple Black Bean & Pumpkin Curry
The Bits – For 2
1 small onion (sliced)
1/2 tbs cooking oil
3 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed)
1 inch ginger – roughly 1 heaped tbs (finely grated)
1/2-1 green chilli (finely diced)
250g black beans
75g red lentil – 1 big handful (washed)
200g squash/ pumpkin – 2 handfuls (diced)
300ml hot water
2 tomatoes (chopped and mashed)
1 heaped tbs tomato puree
1 teas salt
1 1/2 tbs curry powder
1 heaped tbs garam masala
Roughly 2 teas lemon juice
Handful chopped coriander (optional one for the coriander lovers out there)
In a large sauce pan, fry the onions until they are texture like sun (golden brown), then stir in your garlic, ginger and chilli, stir and fry for a minute and then add the lentils, beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, curry powder, squash, water and stir together. Bring to a boil.
Cook on a fast simmer for 10 minutes with a lid on, stirring occasionally to stop the lentils sticking to the bottom. Add your garam masala and cook for 5 minutes more. Stir in a little more water if its getting too thick.
Once the squash is nice and soft, stir in the lemon juice, check seasoning and serve. If you like coriander, sprinkle some chopped coriander over the dish. I like it with warm chapatis or chickpea chapatis, dip them in and enjoy! I also served it with some green mango pickle. One of my favs.
Pumpkin is full, full of good things. Especially this time of year when they’re bang on seasonal and hopefully quite local. Very orange, means goodness. Lots of vitamin A, one cup contains 200% of your daily need. You’ll be seeing in the dark in no time. It’s got loads of fibre and pumpkin is also said to keep our skin shining. Bananas are famous potassium sources, but pumpkin actually has considerably higher levels of potassium than bananas. Vitamin C, also in the mix somewhere, they’re just one of the best things we can eat at this time of year and throughout winter. Superstars!!
PS – Please don’t throw away the seeds, clean them off and roast them for a while in an oven. You will not regret the slightly time consuming picking orange gloop off them.