While I didn’t grow up eating curries, I now crave them, in all of their different incarnations.
This one is very straightforward and can be adapted to suit your tastes: pumpkin instead of sweet potato, black beans instead of chickpeas, not to mention varying the spices and aromatics. I make the paste using my mortar and pestle, which really isn’t much more effort than a food processor (and I really don’t enjoy cleaning a food processor). Choose a mortar and pestle that are large and heavy. Mine are marble, which makes the job easier. We eat this curry with thick homemade flatbread, which is incredibly simple to make.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 x 400 ml cans coconut cream
750 g sweet potato, peeled and cut into large pieces
60 g roasted peanuts, finely crushed
Large handful of baby spinach leaves
400 g canned chickpeas or black beans
500 g (3 ⅓ cups) plain flour, plus extra for dusting (bread, tipo 0 or tipo 00 flours all work well for this, too)
5 g sea salt
6 g active dry yeast
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
280 ml warm water
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cm piece of ginger
1 bunch of coriander, stalks and roots washed and finely chopped, leaves reserved to serve
1 heaped teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
1 heaped teaspoon toasted coriander seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
sliced red onion or shallot
finely sliced green chilli
To make the dough for the flatbread, place the flour, salt, yeast and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the warm water. Increase the mixer to medium, adding another tablespoon of water if there are still dry parts. Increase the mixer to high and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be soft and just a little sticky. You can make the dough by hand, but you may need to add a little extra flour (resulting in slightly less soft flatbread). Transfer the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover and allow to prove in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface using a pastry scraper or your hands. Divide the dough into eight pieces and shape each one into a smooth ball. I do this by slightly flattening each piece then folding the edges into the centre. Turn over so that the seam is at the bottom and, using the edges of your hands, turn the ball clockwise to create a smooth, tight surface. Cover and allow to prove for a further 45 minutes.
For the curry paste, pound the garlic, onion and ginger with a large pinch of salt using a mortar and pestle. Add the coriander stalks and root and continue to pound, then add the seeds and turmeric. Keeping pounding until you have a fairly smooth paste. Alternatively, blitz everything together in a food processor.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium–high heat. Add the curry paste and fry, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes until fragrant and beginning to colour. Add the coconut cream and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the crushed peanuts followed by the sweet potato and simmer for 10–15 minutes until tender.
Meanwhile, roll out each dough ball to a 10 cm circle, around 8 mm thick. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat and cook the flatbread for 1 minute on each side or until cooked through. They should puff up as soon as they touch the pan and have golden spots on the surface. Immediately wrap the hot flatbread in a tea towel to steam and remain soft and pliable.
Stir the spinach and chickpeas or black beans into the curry and cook for a few minutes longer so the spinach is just wilted and the chickpeas or beans have warmed through. Season well, then divide among bowls and top with the coriander leaves and some onion or shallot, chilli, peanuts and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve the warm flatbread on the side.
Recipe from A Year of Simple Family Food by Julia Busuttil Nishimura (published by Plum)
As part of