South Indian Mixed Vegetable Curry

South Indian Mixed Vegetable CurrySpice it Up
There is always a bit of a letdown after the holidays. After weeks of planning and food and get-togethers, all the excitement and frenetic energy are just gone. It’s sitting out beside your driveway with the Christmas tree. (Wow, aren’t I a ray of sunshine?) I have mentioned in the past that in January my food choices tend to skew towards the super spicy. And, I think this post-holiday void is at least part of the reason.

Curries have been on my mind—if only because they are a great way to combine the healthy eating we all seem to take a stab at in the beginning of the new year with the much-needed oompf of aromatics and heat. While the aspirations of leading a vegetable-forward, healthy clean life may fade as we head into February, exploring the world of curry can take you into next month and beyond because there are so many possibilities.

When most people think of curry they immediately think of India, but curries are found in a wide range of countries and cultures thanks to centuries of commerce practiced along trade routes like the Silk Road and the Curry Trail. Today you will find delicious curries not only in India but in Africa and South America as well as Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, and so many more countries.

Our recipe for South Indian Mixed Vegetable Curry is a simple one. Some of the ingredients can be hard to find (especially in the current trade climate). So, I have listed their substitutes as well…

South Indian Mixed Vegetable Curry Recipe
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible
Yields 4 servings

3 tablespoons raw cashews, chopped

For the paste
3 medium tomatoes, about 12 oz. chopped
2 ounces grated fresh coconut (you can substitute 2 ounces desiccated, unsweetened coconut that has been soaked in 2 ounces of hot water for 30 minutes. Add the coconut and soaking water to the blender)
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 bird’s eye or Thai chilies, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

For the vegetables
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon channa dal or Yellow split peas
10 fresh curry leaves, if available (you can substitute fresh lime zest or Kaffir Limes leaves)
4 ounces carrots, diced
4 ounces peas, fresh or frozen
4 ounces cauliflower florets
4 ounces green beans, cut to 1-inch lengths (or f you prefer 4 ounces mixed bell peppers, cut into 1/4-inch strips)
8 ounces water
1 tablespoon plain yogurt (do not use Greek yogurt)

For serving (optional garnish)
Lime wedges
Cilantro leaves

Soak the cashews
Cover cashews in hot water and soak for 1 hour. Drain.

While the cashews are soaking, prep the other ingredients.

Make the paste
Put the tomatoes, coconut, salt, chilies, garam masala, and cashews into a blender. Blend until it is a smooth paste. Add the cilantro and blend for a second.

Make the curry
Heat the oil in a medium pan with a lid over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the mustard seeds and channa dal. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop and the dal reddens, add the curry leaves, or their substitute, carrots, peas, cauliflower, and beans. Stir once then add the water.

Simmer the curry
Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the paste from the blender, stir, and return to a simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Fold in the yogurt and turn off the heat.

To serve
Serve with optional lime wedges and fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

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