Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to School/Indian Vegetable Curry

Starting school after a long vacation filled with adventures, friends and family usually fills me with an impending sense of gloom, no specific feeling per se, but an overall melancholic disposition. Surprisingly, today, every fold of my shirts and zip of my luggage is making me smile rather than tear up. Maybe it's because it's my last semester and the nostalgia of graduating is making me want to stay in college forever, or maybe the masochist in me is dying for some negative twenty-degree weather. That being said, even though going back to school isn't as troubling as usual, I couldn't help but feel a small pang of sadness when I locked my door this morning. It definitely helps that I left a little something behind so that my family would not forget me (at least not right away). This time, it wasn't world peace cookies, but a week's worth of lunch for my sister.

It looks like she'll be eating Indian vegetable curry stew for the next few weeks (oops I think I made too much of a good thing again), at least it is so good that there is no way she will get bored of it. My only regret is not that I made way too much of it, but that I can't tow this along on the plane with me. Even though I have made a similar stew before, I am glad I waited until now to write about it because this version was 100x better. Originally I made it with only root vegetables, which was good but too rich. This time, since I was making it for my sister, I had her choose what went in and she chose just the right balance between green and starchy vegetables. I call this an Indian stew even though I am by no means an expert, or even knowledgeable, in the realm of Indian cuisine. However, thanks to some great store bought spice mixes, I can confidently say it's authentic-ish. It may not be exactly what you would find in an Indian restaurant, but it is definitely a close second and it tastes oh-so-good.

This curry has just the right balance between richness from the leeks and squash, freshness from the zucchini and broccoli and heartiness from the chickpeas. The broccoli florets are most definitely my favorite part, with all the little branches absorbing the rich and spicy flavors of the sauce and exploding when you bite into them. Serve it atop a bed of basmati rice and you're really in business. Like I said, I wish I had taken some of this with me but since I decided to be nice and share, looks like I will just have to make this for myself sometime very soon. If I may be so bold (like the flavors of this stew), you should too.

Indian Vegetable Curry
serves 6 (with leftovers)

1 small butternut squash, cut into 4, once lengthwise and once crosswise
3 leeks, sliced into 1/4" half moons and rinsed well
2 zucchini sliced into 1/4" half moons
1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 can chickpeas
1, 28 oz can diced or ground tomatoes
28 oz water (just fill the tomato can with water to measure)
4 tbsp. hot indian curry paste (I used Patak's brand)
1 tbsp. hot sauce (adjust depending on taste, I used sambal oelek)
Salt, if needed

1) Heat up the oven to 375 degrees. Place the squash, flesh side down on an oiled baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes. When it's soft, peel and cut into 2" cubes.
2) Meanwhile, heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot add the leeks and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for another 2 minutes. Then add the broccoli, chickpeas, tomatoes, water, and curry stir well and bring to a boil.
3) Once it is boiling, taste it to adjust the seasonings adding hot sauce and salt as needed or desired. Then give it a good stir and turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. Add the butternut squash, the cubes will probably fall apart some, do not worry. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
4) Serve hot with some rice, couscous or on its own.


Maria said...

Vitamin packed meals are just what you need to keep your energy leels going for school. This looks great, love the flavors.

BTW, there are many days when I wish I was still in college. Enjoy it while it lasts!