Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Spicy Mixed Vegetable Curry: A Great Recipe

Carnival season and Mardi Gras are over, and it’s Lent. From a culinary standpoint, the former---rightfully culminating on FAT Tuesday---celebrates excess and richness. Then, beginning the next day, today, Lent is about restraint or giving things up for 40 days. Many practitioners give up rich foods, fatty foods, and often meat. This recipe is great way of doing so without sacrificing complex and hearty. Never has another vegetable curry pleased me as much. It’s not one you’re likely to find on menus or in accessible cookbooks. After 20 minutes of searching, I couldn’t find it on the web either.

Nor could I locate the out-of print-cookbook from which it was transcribed into the Key Gourmet software in my computer. Not to be confused with Madhur Jaffrey’s highly regarded and lavishly illustrated Taste of India (Chrysalis Books, 2001), this paperback of the same name was authored by Mary S. Atwood (Houghton Mifflin, 1969), and is scarce enough that a single seller currently has it up on Amazon at $99.96.


1 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup green beans, sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup green peas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon anise seed, crushed
1/4 teaspoon powdered cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 1/2 cups thick coconut milk
juice of ½ lemon

Combine cabbage green peas, green beans, and potatoes in a wide saucepan. Add just enough water to cook without burning and simmer for five minutes. Drain. Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil and fry onions until golden. Add green pepper, ground coriander, cumin, aniseed, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, chili powder, ginger, and coriander leaves. Fry for a minute or two. Put in mixed vegetables and salt. Fry for several minutes, stirring frequently; and then put in coconut milk. Simmer gently until vegetables are tender, watching carefully to prevent burning. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.
*From Taste of India by Mary S. Atwood (Houghton Mifflin), 1969