The weather is really getting chilly and as I’m writing this, I can feel the cold seeping right down deep into my bones, and my belly is talking to me. It’s telling me that it got a message from my body, saying it needs to be heated from within. I must say I tend to agree with the body when it communicates in this way. I think it is definitely time to start pulling out all the heartwarming comfort food recipes. I think we can all agree that winter has indeed landed!
I have so many favourite comfort food dishes and curry is definitely among them. It never fails to warm and satisfy the whole family and the leftovers taste better the next day and make for fabulous sandwiches.
A curry has so many wonderful and healthy ingredients in it. Take onions for instance – onions are a stimulant; they are also an expectorant, which means they help loosen phlegm in congested chests; they’re great as an anti-inflammatory, so they’re perfect to help relieve sore throats. In short, they are just a great winter veggie.
Ginger has anti-nausea, anti-spasmodic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-almost anything properties. The Chinese swear by ginger as it contains so many properties that can do wonders for your health. Ginger is also a good source of vitamins A, C, E, B-complex, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, sodium, iron, zinc, calcium and beta-carotene. Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, in juice or in an oil form.
Turmeric – often referred to as the Queen of Spices – is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns. It improves digestion, so it helps eliminate bloating and gas. The Chinese (those guys again) used to use it to fight depression. It has even been said that it can ward off dementia. I need to take a few extra scoops then.
Some studies have shown that turmeric may help reduce the severity of bacterial and viral infections, so it is great to help fight colds and flu.
Now, chillies, which contain Capsaicin, not only reduces pain, but their wonderful peppery heat also stimulates the secretions that help clear mucus from your stuffed up nose or congested lungs.
I could go on and on telling you why a curry is not only good for your health, but also that it will satisfy the need for pure yummy comfort, but enough of that – let’s just cook!
Lamb, Brinjal and Butter Bean Curry
Serves 4 to 6
I just love the silky flesh of brinjals. I also make this curry with minced beef and serve it with roti, so everyone gets to make their own Indian wrap.
Ingredients for the curry:
- 2 long, large, firm brinjals, cubed
- 3 Tbs vegetable oil
- 3 Tbs unsalted butter
- 3 large onions, thinly sliced
- 5 cm piece fresh ginger, grated
- 15 ml coriander seeds, toasted and ground
- 15 ml cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- 5 cardamom pods, toasted and ground
- 5 ml turmeric
- 10 ml chilli powder
- 1 fresh green chilli, slit
- 1.5 kg lean cubed lamb or lamb knuckle
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 10 cloves garlic, crushed
- Salt, to taste
- About 1 ½ cups boiling water
- ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups cooked butter beans
- 10 curry leaves (optional)
- 3 Tbs chopped fresh coriander
Ingredients for the Raita:
- 2 cups thick Greek yogurt
- 1 medium English cucumber, washed
- 1 tsp roasted ground cumin
- 1 Tbs chopped fresh mint
- 1 Tbs chopped fresh coriander
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Salt to taste
To make the curry, salt the Brinjal cubes and let them sweat for 20 minutes. Rinse under cold water and pat dry. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and brown the brinjals lightly – don’t cook them completely. Set aside till needed.
Heat the butter and one tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and let them cook gently till they reduce down to two-thirds of their original size. Add a few drops of water if need be to stop them from burning.
Now stir in the ginger, ground coriander, cumin, cardamom, turmeric and chilli powder, and cook stirring for a few minutes to release the fragrance of the spices, adding a few spoonful’s of warm water at a time to stop them from burning.
Stir in the fresh chilli and lamb, and cook with spices for 5 minutes. Don’t let it stick. Add the tomatoes and garlic, season with salt and cover with a lid, simmering for 20 minutes. Lift the lid and add the boiling water, just enough to cover the lamb, and stir in the cinnamon. Simmer till the lamb is tender; about 50 to 60 minutes.
While the curry is simmering away, make the Raita. Place the yogurt in a bowl. Peel half of the cucumber and chop very finely. Dice the other half (with the skin on) and stir all the cucumber into the yoghurt with the cumin, mint, coriander and lemon juice. Season with salt and add a little more cumin if you like. Set aside in the fridge until needed.
Just before you are ready to serve, add the beans, brinjals and curry leaves to the lamb, and cook till warmed through. Stir in the fresh coriander and serve with roti, or steamed rice, and the cucumber and mint Raita.
Tip: Cook the onions nice and slow till they cook right down. The sugars cook out of them this way, giving you an amazing curry.
© Jenny Morris extracted from the Book Taste The World with Jenny Morris