My cat Pie does not want me to write this post for you. No, really, I am not kidding. In the time that I put down these first few words for my Vegetable Kurma post, she has prised my fingers off the keyboard with her little head at least a half dozen times, insisting that I attend to the far more important job of scratching the top of her head.
So I did, and now I am back, and she is sitting right next to me purring. And I can bet you that before I reach the end of this paragraph she will be back for more. She’s been doing this so often of late that I found myself telling Desi the other day how much she has started to remind me of my grandmother. Not that my grandmother, Amma, wanted her head rubbed, bless her heart, but I remember how much she loved it when we gave her our undivided attention so she could tell us all about the wonderful life she had lived in her 70-plus years.
Pie is nearly 17 now — middle-aged, I like to think, because hasn’t the oldest cat ever lived to be 38 years old, according to the Guinness Book of World Records? But no matter how much I try to convince her of that, she has decided she’s a grand old lady. And like a grand old lady, she wants the entire household to be at her beck and call every moment of every day, thank you. Not that I remember a time when we weren’t at her beck and call. Oh, those cats!
Coming back to the Kurma, I was trying to think up a healthy recipe packed with a rainbow of vegetables that we could scoop up with some Phulkas. A kurma, sometimes called a kuruma or korma, is made with vegetables and you can find many versions of it in different parts of India. A richer version that I love is Navratan Kurma — richer because it incorporates dry fruits and nuts– but this time I was looking for something healthier and less complicated.
I found this exquisitely easy recipe from the Vah Chef that I tweaked only slightly. I also added more vegetables, because I like my kurma as veggieful as possible. There are carrots here and green peas and bell peppers and green beans. You can change up the veggies, if you like– cauliflower is wonderful in kurmas, and zucchini and mushrooms and sweet potatoes would be good too. Kurma is great with Indian flatbreads, but you can also serve it with some rice and dal for a delicious meal.
Uh-oh, Pie’s looking at me rather purposefully and I think you know what’s next. Here she comes! Gotta run, all, to scratch a handsome little head. But first here’s the recipe.
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (canned is fine here)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (use less if you prefer)
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 medium carrots, chopped into roundels
- 1 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 2 medium potatoes, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 sprig of curry leaves
- 2 tsp garam masala powder
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves
- Place the beans, carrots and potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl and zap for seven minutes on high or until the potatoes are tender but not mushy.
- Place the coconut milk and poppy seeds in a blender and blend until you have a smooth paste. Add a little bit of water if needed.
- In a pressure cooker or in a large saucepan, heat 1 tsp of oil. Add the onions, stir and cook for about a minute or two, then add the tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, cayenne, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder, and a generous pinch of salt.
- Stir everything together and then pressure cook for about 10 minutes after the cooker reaches cooking pressure.
- If you don’t have a pressure cooker, place a lid on the saucepan and cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions and tomatoes are really well-incorporated.
- In another saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tsp of oil. Add the curry leaves and then add the coconut-poppy paste. Stir frequently and cook until the paste becomes a couple of shades darker. Don’t walk away at this stage because the paste can easily burn.
- Add the diced bell pepper and peas and stir well. Add the cooked vegetables and the tomato-onion paste. Stir everything well to mix, add water if you want a thinner curry, bring the mixture to a boil, slap on a lid, lower heat to a simmer, and cook about five minutes for all the flavors to meld.
- Add the garam masala and more salt. Stir in the coriander leaves. Serve hot.