vegetarian curry feast

To celebrate the beginning of advent, I created a vegetarian curry feast for my nearest and dearest – let the season of goodwill begin! My vegetarian curry feast comprises: whole cauliflower aloo gobi (the centrepiece), 3 legume dahl, Butter Pumpkin; served with turmeric and pea basmati rice, coconut and coriander chutney. I am a big fan of condiments so, I like to add the following (shop-bought): mango chutney, brinjal pickle and lime pickle – or any pickle you fancy.

The Butter Pumpkin is a must try; the recipe was born out of a desire to recreate the deliciously creamy and unctuous old Dehli-style butter chicken, but for a vegetarian table. With its sweet, just cooked pumpkin flesh the resulting dish is a delicious alternative to its meaty cousin. Butter chicken is also known as chicken makhni and this pumpkin version is the epitome of makhni: buttery and velvety!

The 3 main dishes can be served on their own with naan bread or the rice; but when you really want to show some love, create the entire feast. The Pumpkin Makhni and the dahl can be prepared beforehand for those with less time or distractions like small children!

Vegetarian Curry Feast:-
Serves 5 – with leftovers
Whole Cauliflower Aloo Gobi

1 large cauliflower
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 green chillies; sliced – remove the seeds for less heat
5 garlic cloves; crushed
3cm piece of ginger, grated
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp turmeric powder or double grated fresh root
1 tbsp Garam Masala
400ml tin coconut milk
800g potatoes; 5cm cubes
1 lemon: organic and unwaxed; quartered
Himalayan pink salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Coriander leaves to decorate

  1. Wash the cauliflower and remove any large outer leaves- leave the smaller ones. Take a paring knife and remove a conical section of the base stalk.
  2. Choose a saucepan in which the cauliflower will fit and one quarter fill it with water.
  3. Once the water reaches boiling point, gently lower the cauliflower in, cover and leave simmering for 5 minutes. Then drain the water and leave the cauliflower in the covered pan while you prepare the casserole dish.
  4. In a large casserole dish, heat the oil before adding the onion.
  5. Gently cook the onion till soft before adding the ginger, garlic and chilli.
  6. After a couple of minutes, stir in the spices.
  7. Add the coconut milk, stir to combine and season to tase.
  8. Bring the mixture up to boil before lowering in the cauliflower and surrounding it with the potato pieces and the lemon quarters.
  9. Baste the cauliflower and potatoes, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until the potatoes and cauliflower are cooked.
  10. Once soft and yielding, remover the cauliflower and potatoes to a serving dish and pour over the sauce.
  11. Finish with coriander leaves – you could also add: pomegranate arils, almonds, pistachios, cashews or walnuts.
3 legume Dahl

5 tbsp light olive or sunflower oil
1 large onion, diced
300g dried urid beans
200g dried chana dahl
1 jar cooked red kidney beans
1 green chillies; sliced – remove the seeds for less heat
3cm piece of ginger, grated
2 tsp ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch cayenne chilli powder
2 tsp cardamon seeds; removed from the pods, lightly toasted and ground
5 whole cloves; lightly toasted and ground
1 generous grinding of nutmeg
1 400g tin of good Italian tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 lime: juice
Himalayan pink salt
Coriander leaves to decorate

  1. wash the urid and chana dahl and leave to soak overnight.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil.
  3. Add the onion, chilli and ginger; cook over a medium heat till the onion starts to colour.
  4. Stir in the spices followed by the tomatoes. Lightly season – adjust at the end.
  5. Add the drained urid and chana dahls and cover with water by 3cm.
  6. Simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and catching. Add more water if necessary.
  7. Once soft and creamy, add the drained and rinsed red kidney beans. Stir in and heat through thoroughly.
  8. Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning.
  9. Add lime juice to taste.
  10. Spoon into a serving bowl and finish with coriander leaves.
Old Dehli-style Butter Pumpkin/ Pumpkin Makhni

2 tbsp light olive or sunflower oil
110g pot Greek yoghurt
about 800g butternut squash or pumpkin; cut in to bite-sized pieces
1½ tbsp crushed garlic cloves
1 tbsp of grated ginger
½ tsp cayenne chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp turmeric powder or 1 tsp grated fresh
1 tsp ground cumin
1 lemon: organic and unwaxed; juiced
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt

Gravy (sauce):

2 tbsp of butter, plus 1 tbsp of olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
1½ tbsp crushed garlic cloves
1 tbsp of grated ginger
1½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp ground coriander
5 green cardamon pods; seeds removed lightly toasted and ground
3 whole cloves; ground
½ tsp chilli powder
1 400g tin of good Italian tomatoes
2 green chillies; sliced lengthways
75ml cream
1 tbsp sugar
50g butter; diced
Himalayan pink salt
Coriander leaves to decorate

  1. Peel, deseed and chop the pumpkin in to bite-sized pieces.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the ingredients for the marinade season with 1 tsp salt.
  3. Stir in the pumpkin pieces, cover and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 240ºC.
  5. Spread the marinaded pumpkin evenly on an oven tray and cook on the top shelf for about 15 minutes – turning halfway through. We are looking to give the pumpkin a little colour, it will finish cooking in the sauce.
  6. Now for the gravy: heat the butter and oil in a wide heavy-bottomed pan.
  7. Add the diced onion and sweat down for 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in the garlic and ginger; cook for another minute before adding the spices.
  9. Cook and stir the spices until fragrant – 20 seconds.
  10. Pour in the tomatoes and stir to combine; season well.
  11. Cook the sauce for 15 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce has thickened a little.
  12. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender – or bowl if you are using a hand blender. Blend to a fine purée.
  13. Return to the pan; adding the cream, sugar a sliced green chillies.
  14. With the sauce thick and glossy, stir in the pumpkin pieces and bring the sauce up to a simmer.
  15. As the sauce simmers, stir in the butter one dice at a time.
  16. Continue to stir until the pumpkin is cooked through.
  17. Spoon into a serving bowl and finish with coriander leaves.
Turmeric & Pea Basmati Rice

1 tbsp light olive or sunflower oil
250g basmati rice
1 garlic clove; crushed
½ tsp coriander seeds
1 green chilli, finely chopped
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
100g frozen peas
Coriander leaves to decorate

  1. wash the basmati rice: place the rice in a pan, fill with water. Then using your hand to rub the grains together.
  2. Repeat until the water runs clean before draining the rice.
  3. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil.
  4. Add the cardamon pods, nigella seeds and then the turmeric. Gently cook and stir until the spices release their aromas.
  5. Stir in the rice to cover with the spice mix.
  6. Pour in enough water to cover the rice by 3cm.
  7. Add the salt and bring to the boil.
  8. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Check after 7 minutes and add a little more water if necessary.
  9. Once the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the peas.
  10. Spoon into a serving bowl and finish with coriander leaves.
Coconut & Coriander Chutney

100g grated coconut flesh
50g coriander leaves and smaller stems; chopped
1 garlic clove; crushed
1 tbsp of grated ginger
½ tsp coriander seeds
1 green chilli, finely chopped
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
200ml coconut milk
110g pot Greek yoghurt

  1. Put all the ingredients into a food processor or food processor attachment on a hand-held blender and blitz to a smooth paste.


Serve your lovely vegetarian curry feast and enjoy the stunned silence and thens the MMMMMs.


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