Thursday, August 5, 2010

How to: Make a home-grown-vegetable curry

I've just had an awesome curry. It was prepared by @squiggle7 and myself out of garden vegetables (bolstered with some other non-gardeny bits and bobs). Please read the whole thing through to make sure you have workable ingredients- I'm not listing them because it's the kind of thing that's infinitely variable and I want you to take some responsibility for your own dinner. It's also worth noting that I have made the steps more complicated and waffly than they need to be, as well as very vague. Make of this what you will.
  • Preparation time: About five months (+ 1/2 hour)
  • Feeds: Some to Many, depending on quantities used
You too can make this delicious curry
Here's the secret in 8 easy steps:
  1. Grow some vegetables. - I did this by letting @squiggle7 do it.
     - Home-grown vegetables taste much nicer than shop-bought ones. This is not just something said by those who grow their own vegetables in order to justify it; it's true.
  2. Harvest the vegetables.
     - I did this by letting @squiggle7 do it.
     - We ended up with carrots, courgettes and runner beans. We only managed a couple of strawberries, they were very small, and are not a traditional ingredient in many curry recipes, so we left them out.
  3. Chop the vegetables up and put them into a saucepan.
     - I did this by letting @squiggle7 do it*.
     - How many is up to you: I'd suggest somewhere between a few and lots depending on how many you want to feed, individual appetites and other factors. Bear in mind that the finished article will freeze perfectly happily to be consumed another day, so you'll probably want to make too much rather than too little. Again, which saucepan to use is heavily dependant on how much you're making- go for too big rather than too small**.
     - This is where the 'bolstering' stepped in too: we added a tin of chopped tomatoes, a tin of sweetcorn and a tin of red kidney beans***.
  4. Pour in a jar of some variety of curry sauce.
     - Many people will say this is cheating. It's perfectly acceptable, not to mention greener and more economical, to make your own sauce, and feel free to do so if you know how, but we were hungry, had a jar of sauce that needed using up, and are not adverse to a little rule-bending now and then.
  5. Mix it up a bit and get the hob going.
     - Make sure the one you switch on/ light is the one underneath the saucepan. I didn't, but was thankfully corrected by @squiggle7. You may not be so lucky.
     - At the same time, get the rice going in another saucepan.
     - How much is, again, dependent upon how many you are catering for and the size of their gluttons. If you don't know how to cook rice at this point in your life, either find out quickly**** or shoot yourself.
  6. Keep an eye on both saucepans***** until the food is done, ready, cooked and finished.
     - Give 'em a stir every now and then so the stuff at the bottom doesn't burn. It should be ready within 20 minutes or so, but the best thing to do is try a little bit now and then- don't be a dunce, and let it cool a bit before shovelling it in, though.
     - Rice is done when it's at a consistency that pleases you. I've eaten rice with people who like barely out of the crunchy stage and also those who believe rice is only properly cooked once the grains have lost their individuality and all become part of one great, mushy collective. The same is true for the curry- it's veg, so when it's hot, it's done. The only thing you really have to think about is how crunchy or soggy you like it. It's a free world, so do as you please.
     - One other thing to think about- if you like your sauce runny, no problem. If you like it nice and thick, you may need to let it simmer for a while until some of the water has evaporated off. If you do this, it should be at a temperature that will allow it to steam without actually bubbling too much.
  7. Serve.
     - This can be done according to personal preference. The standard is, I believe, to serve the rice first with a depression in the middle into which the curry is spooned/poured/ladled/slopped. Variations include putting the rice on one side of the plate and the curry next to it; serving the rice and curry in separate bowls; putting the rice on top of the curry (unusual); serving both in a large cornet with a naan-strip 'flake' (very, very odd).
     - A curry always goes down well with pappadoms, pappadums, popadams, pompadums, poppadams and/or naan bread.
  8. Eat.
    You can use any item of cutlery for this, but chopsticks may well mean that you're there for weeks, and steak knives can cause unnecessary personal injury without actually bringing anything positive to the experience. We both chose forks.

Of course, the above can be simplified to:
  1. Chop veg
  2. Cook veg in sauce
  3. Serve with rice, poppadoms and/or naan.
But where would be the fun in that?

* Actually, to tell the truth I took over from her part-way through this step.
** Forget this 'less is more' rubbish. More is demonstrably more.
*** We luuuurves the kidney beans.
**** Either:
1. Phone your mum;
2. Ask anyone over the age of about 7; or
3. Boil it.
***** Not literally: this is painful and achieves nothing.