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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mixed Vegetable Kurma - Coconut Based Curry

This is a delicious, vegetable rich curry with a coconut base which forms the gravy. I ate this for the first time in a South Indian style restaurant with Uttapam (thick rice pancakes). I absolutely loved it. I  then started making it at home whenever I would have grated coconut on hand. I believe this has its origins in Karnataka. It is very different from the mixed vegetable kurma which is found in North Indian style restaurants where the gravy base is onions and tomatoes.

This pairs very well with phulkas, uttapams and is worth being on a feast menu when served with puris. If is also a great gravy accompaniment with simple pulao. I love this preparation and hope you enjoy it too.

1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, cut into small cubes
15 green beans, finely diced
1 potato, cut into small cubes
¼ cauliflower, cut into small florets
½ cup peas
2 tbsp oil
¼ tsp cumin seeds/jeera
2 bay leaves/tej patta
salt to taste
water to form the gravy

For the gravy masala paste
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup fresh coconut
4-5 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger
1-2 green chillies (to taste)
¼ cup cilantro/coriander leaves loosely filled (approximately leaves yielding from 10-15 stems)
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp tamarind paste (soak tamarind in warm water and once it is softened, remove seeds and any fibers and extract the pulp from the tamarind)
1 tsp garam masala (optional)
water to grind the ingredients together to form a thick paste

Blend all the ingredients listed under the fresh coconut masala paste into a fine thick paste. Cut all the vegetables into approximately similar sized pieces. To reduce the overall cooking time, you can steam cook these or cook these in the microwave till partially cooked. Do not overcook them. It is not necessary to semi-cook the vegetables. It will just take a little longer for the kurma to cook if raw vegetables are added. If using frozen peas, just thaw them. Do not cook them with other vegetables as thawed peas cook really quickly.

Heat a pan. Add oil and then cumin seeds and bay leaves. Once the cumin seeds crackle, add the coconut paste and cook it till the raw smell of onion and garlic goes away and it starts to brown slightly. Next add the cut vegetables – the carrots, beans, peas, potato and cauliflower. Stir to coat these in the coconut masala and let these cook for a few minutes. Then add about ½-1 cup of water to create a gravy, based on your preference. Add salt to taste. Let the vegetables boil till completely cooked.

Serve hot with chapati, puri or uttapam.

Do not use cold or frozen coconut directly when making the masala paste. Thaw it and warm it a little. If it is very cold, the oil will separate out during the grinding process. Also, use warm water to grind the masala. You can also add 10-12 cashews (not roasted, raw) to the paste to give it a richer taste.


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