Kasey Wilson: Curried favourites to look forward to a cold winter day

Kasey Wilson offers up some curry recipes sure to warm your belly and please your palate

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Curries combine the comforting qualities of a stew and the exotic appeal of lively spices, and that makes them ideal for grey January days. Like most stews, curries taste even better after a night in the refrigerator, so a reheated lunch or second dinner is something to look forward to.

Our first recipe originated at the Dirty Apron Cooking School and Delicatessen, where new employees are asked to make their favourite dish for a staff meal. Auntie Zakia, as she’s fondly known, wowed her colleagues with lamb curry. It was such a hit that owner David Robertson put it on the menu, and customers flipped out too.

Cookbook author Anna Olson’s chickpea and cauliflower curry is perfect for the vegetarians in your bubble. Olson likes to accompany it with a batch of fresh naan, and you can, too. And don’t forget the condiments: chutney, pickles, coconut, sambal, crystallized ginger, peanuts, raita and more will curry favour with your guests.

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Auntie Zakia’s Lamb Curry

This recipe is adapted from Gather: A Dirty Apron Cookbook by David Robertson (Figure 1).

1½ lbs (750 g) lamb shoulder, cut into chunks

2 tsp (10 mL) sea salt

1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp (25 mL) + 1 tsp (5 mL) vegetable oil (divided)

1 white onion, finely chopped

2 tsp (10 mL) grated ginger

1 cinnamon stick

6 green cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp (2 mL) each ground coriander, ground cumin, curry powder and turmeric

¼ tsp (1 mL) each cayenne, fennel seeds and garam masala

1 cup (250 mL) puréed tomatoes

½ red bell pepper, seeded, deveined and chopped

¼ lemon 1 tbsp white vinegar

Steamed rice, to serve

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Season lamb with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add lamb and sear for a minute. Turn and sear for another minute. Transfer lamb to a bowl.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in the same pan. Combine onion, ginger, cinnamon stick, cardamom and bay leaves and sauté over medium-low heat for a minute. Add remaining tablespoon of oil and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds. Add coriander, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, cayenne, fennel seeds, and garam masala. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until all ingredients are evenly coated in the spices.

Add puréed tomatoes, bell peppers, squeeze of lemon juice, lemon wedge and 1/3 cup water and simmer for 30 seconds. Add lamb and mix well. Add vinegar and bring to a boil, then remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover, transfer to oven and cook 90 minutes, until lamb is fork tender. Discard lemon wedge. Serve with rice.

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Serves 4

Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

Cauliflower is such a sponge for flavour and colour that it’s ideal in a curry. (Adapted from Set for the Holidays with Anna Olson: Recipes to Bring Comfort and Joy by Anna Olson, Appetite by Random House.)

2 tbsp (30 ML) vegetable oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 tsp (25 mL) each ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric and garam masala

1 to 3 red chilies, sliced (optional)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1½-inch (3.5 cm) piece fresh ginger, finely grated

2 cups (500 mL) crushed tomatoes

2 cups (500 mL) vegetable stock

8 cups (600 g) cauliflower florets (about 1 small head)

19-oz (540 mL) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup (250 mL) frozen peas

½ cup (125 mL) full fat coconut milk or plain yogurt

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 cups (1 L) cooked basmati rice or quinoa, for serving

½ cup (125 mL) fresh cilantro leaves

Fresh lime juice

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala and chilies. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onions are sizzling. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute more.

Add tomatoes and stock, bring to a brisk simmer, adjust heat and cook, stirring often, until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in chickpeas and frozen peas, and simmer just until warmed through. Stir in yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the rice among 4 bowls. Spoon curry on top and sprinkle with cilantro leaves and lime juice.

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Serves 4

Naan is traditionally baked in a tandoori oven, but it’s surprisingly easy to make in a cast iron skillet.
Naan is traditionally baked in a tandoori oven, but it’s surprisingly easy to make in a cast iron skillet. Photo by Kevin Clark /PNG

Naan

Naan is traditionally baked on the walls of a tandoori oven, but you can easily make this bread at home using a cast iron frying pan. You can hold the naans in a 300°F (150°C) oven until serving. (Adapted from Bake with Anna Olson, Appetite by Random House.)

¾ cup (180 mL) warm water (about 115 degrees F/46 degrees C)

2½ cups (375 g) all-purpose flour, divided

½ cup (125 mL) plain yogurt

2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive or vegetable oil

2 ¼ tsp (1 package) instant yeast

½ tsp (2 g) salt

Melted butter or ghee for brushing

Sea salt and/or chopped fresh coriander for sprinkling

Place the water, yogurt, oil, yeast, 2¼ cups of flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until incorporated.  Pour the remaining ¼ cup flour on a clean work surface and tip the dough out onto it. Knead dough for about 3 minutes, turning it and working in all the flour. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for an hour.

Turn dough out onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour and divide it into 6 pieces. Roll out each into a rough circle 8 to 9 inches (20-23 cm) across.

Heat a cast iron skillet on high heat. Drop in a naan and cook for about 90 seconds, until browned in spots on the bottom. Use tongs to flip the naan over to cook another 90 seconds, until bubbles blister and turn toasty brown. Brush the naan with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and/or coriander. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Makes 6 naan                                                                                                                       


Kitchen Hack: Coconut Milk vs. Low Fat Coconut Milk

Full-fat coconut milk creates a thicker, velvety texture and flavour; it’s also vegan for those who are lactose intolerant. Low-fat coconut milk is too watery and lacks flavour.

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