Recipe: Vegetable curry with saffron rice

RUTH PRETTY
Last updated 14:46 18/04/2012
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PHIL REID/Fairfax NZ
ALL GOOD: Vegetable curry with saffron rice should please all comers.

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In the past few months in this column I have included recipes now and again that are vegan. Vegan readers have thanked me and told me that they keep the recipes for special-occasion meals. Meat- eating readers have told me that they like to eat vegetarian and vegan sometimes for variety and to partake of lighter food.

I am a meat eater but once or twice a week I prepare a vegetarian dinner, not because I necessarily want to eat vegetarian but because I have interesting vegetables on hand and I happen to love rice, lentils, dried beans and chickpeas.

Some meat eaters turn to a vegetarian or vegan menu hoping to achieve weight reduction. But varied and tasty vegetarian and vegan dishes also include calorific ingredients such as the coconut cream in the recipe today or, in particular, nuts and oils. The key to making any dish enjoyable is to make it flavoursome.

VEGETABLE CURRY WITH SAFFRON RICE

Serves 4

If you are a meat eater, rest assured that this makes a tasty Sunday supper or an easy lunch. To make a gluten-free version, check that the curry powder you are using does not contain gluten.

Ingredients

100g green beans, trimmed and cut into three

15ml (1 Tbsp) vegetable oil

180g (1 large) onion, coarsely chopped

300g-400g (2 medium) carrots, sliced into 1cm rounds

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 tsp freshly grated peeled ginger

1 Tbsp hot or mild curry powder

3/4 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin

375ml (1 1/2 cups) coconut cream (or half coconut cream and half water)

2 1/2 cups small cauliflower florets

1/2 tsp flaky sea salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

420g tin (1 1/2 cups) dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed

120g (1 cup) frozen peas, thawed

Saffron rice

Bring a pot of water to the boil and add beans. Cook for one minute or until beans are bright green but still crisp. Drain and refresh under cold water.

Place oil into a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add onion and carrots. Cover and cook, shaking saucepan from time to time, for 5 minutes or until onions begin to soften.

Add garlic, chilli and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until garlic has softened.

Add curry powder, coriander, cumin, coconut cream, green beans and cauliflower with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until vegetables have softened.

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Add kidney beans and peas and simmer uncovered for 6-10 minutes or until heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Serve or cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Gently reheat to serve, being mindful of keeping vegetable pieces intact. If mixture seems very thick, add a little cold water at the beginning of reheating.

Accompany with saffron rice.

SAFFRON RICE

Serves 4-6

To gain the maximum flavour and colour from saffron, crush stamens in a mortar with pestle to form a powder or mix stamens with a tiny amount of hot water, leave to cool and use saffron and water as part of the rice-cooking water. I find a rice cooker to be a very handy kitchen gadget but if you do not own one then place rinsed rice into a pot and cover with cold water so that water is 1-2cm above the level of rice. Place lid on pot and set over a medium heat. When water begins to boil, without taking lid off pot, reduce heat to low. When there is no water remaining in the pot, remove from heat and leave to sit for up to 15 minutes.

Ingredients

200g (1 cup) jasmine rice, rinsed under cold water until water begins to run clear

1/4 tsp saffron

1 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves

1/2 tsp flaky sea salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Place rice and saffron (either ground to a powder or softened in hot water) into a rice cooker and add water according to rice cooker instructions. Stir well. Set rice cooker to cook then allow to steam.

Remove rice from cooker and cool.

Add coriander, salt and pepper and fluff rice up with a large fork. Serve as soon as possible.

PINEAPPLE, GINGER AND MINT SALAD

Serves 4-6

A refreshing vegan and gluten- free dessert.

Ingredients

640g ( 1/3) pineapple, peeled and cut into 1cm dice

30g (2 balls) ginger, removed from jar of ginger in syrup and cut into 3-5mm dice

15ml (1 Tbsp) ginger syrup (from jar)

15 mint leaves, finely sliced

24g (2 Tbsp) brown sugar

Place pineapple, ginger and ginger syrup, mint and brown sugar into a medium bowl.

Stir to combine and serve within 3-4 hours.

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