Im not vegetarian but I do eat meat free a day or 2 every week. I love finding new recipes for vegetables and it is to other cuisines I like to look for inspiration. This recipe is from Ottolenghi’s book Plenty and we make it pretty often here. The recipe has potatoe in it – I often substitute Butternut Squash which works just as well and better for you. It seems like it takes a while but actually it just bubbles away once you have in it the pot. Its full of good stuff and I particulary like the circulatory benefits from the ginger, paprika, and chilli. It has an extraordinary flavour- sweet, sour, warming and a nice hit of heat from the spices too..Next time I’m in London I swear I’m going to get to one of the branches to enjoy their version, as well as some of the delicious tray bakes they are famous for.
8 cardamom pods
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp oil
12 shallots (300g in total)
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
25 curry leaves – (From the Asia market and can be frozen if you buy extra)
2 tbsp chopped fresh root ginger
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
50ml good quality cider vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar
400g peeled potatoes or butternut squash cut into 2.5cm dice
2 small red peppers, cut into 2cm dice (I didnt have, make it anyway!)
400g peeled sweet potatoes, cut into 2.5cm dice
salt mint or coriander leaves to serve
Start by making a spice mix. Dry-roast the cardamom pods and cumin and coriander seeds in a small frying pan until they begin to pop. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and add the cloves. Work to a fine powder, removing and discarding the cardamom pods once the seeds are released. Add the turmeric, paprika and cinnamon and set aside. Heat up the oil in a large heavy-based pot. Add the shallots with the mustard and fenugreek seeds, and sauté on a medium low heat for 8 minutes, or until the shallots brown. Stir in the spice mix, curry leaves, ginger and chilli and cook for a further 3 minutes. Next, add the tomatoes, vinegar, water, sugar and some salt. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer, covered for 20 minutes.
Add the potatoes and red peppers and simmer for another 20 minutes. For the last stage, add the sweet potatoes. Make sure all the vegetables are just immersed in the sauce (add more water if needed) and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender.
Remove the lid and leave to bubble away for about 10 minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce. Serve hot, some plain yoghurt on the side is good with it.
This dish can be made ahead of time and kept for a few days – It actually gets better!