When I was child, I wouldn’t have touched this meal with a barge pole. I detested a variety of vegetables. Broccoli and cucumber were allowed. Onions certainly were not. Leeks and cabbage were food of the devil, and cauliflower was tolerated, but not enjoyed.
Thankfully, at the age of 24 I have shaken off my irritating pickyness, and now actually enjoy partaking in the act of eating vegetables. Jump in a time machine and show this meal to my 13 year old self and you’ll be met with a look of disgust and no doubt and ‘urgh’.
I’m a firm believer that meat doesn’t need to be at the centre of every meal, especially when aubergine is there to steal the limelight. There’s something so substantial about aubergine, particularly when it’s been cooked slowly, and allowed to soften and absorb flavour. This recipe also contains butternut squash and pepper as the focus of the dish.
However, what’s so great about cooking with vegetables is that they are interchangeable. Although I’m yet to try any variations, I feel that cauliflower would work well in this dish (it tastes great when roasted too), as well as sweet potato, and additions such as peas or green beans.
Go crazy, and see how many different colours you can fit on one plate! The recipe makes enough to serve 2-4 people, depending on appetite!
- 1 Onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 fresh red chilli
- 1 aubergine
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 red pepper
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- Drizzle of olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp group cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp paprika
- Nigella seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 300ml vegetable stock
1. First, roast the aubergine, butternut squash and pepper. Preheat your oven to 200c/ gas mark 7. Chop the vegetables into chunks, ensuring that the butternut squash chunks are the smallest, as this takes the longest to roast. When dicing up the aubergine I remove the skin out of preference. Toss everything onto a baking tray or roasting tin, and sprinkle over a generous amount of nigella seeds, salt, pepper, and finally drizzle some olive oil. Roast in the oven for just 20 minutes.
2. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare for the curry sauce. It’s best to have everything ready so that it can all be chucked into the pan at the right time. I used a non-stick wok-type pan for this, as the sauce cooks slowly on a low heat, and this helps to prevent it from burning or sticking. Finely chop the onion, garlic and chilli and set to one side.
3. Measure out all of the spices in a small dish, ready to tip into the sauce.
4. Heat up the sunflower oil, and place the 2 bay leaves into the pan to sizzle gently for a minute or two.
5. Next, tip the spice mixture into the pan, and stir continuously to release the flavours and aromas. Don’t let the spices burn – they should sizzle gently with the bay leaves.
6. Add the onion, garlic and chilli to the mix, stirring continuously on a low heat for around five minutes. By the end of this time the onion should be soft, and everything should be coated in the spices and smelling delicious. Do not let the onions burn – this will ruin the flavour of the curry.
7. By this time, the veg will probably be done roasting. Remove from the oven, and add to the the onion mixture. Stir for a minute, allowing the veg to become coated in the mixture.
8. Add the tinned tomatoes to the mixture and stir well. Next add the vegetable stock (just a stock cube and water from the kettle is fine), and stir well.
9. Once the mixture has come to the boil, turn down the heat to low, and leave to simmer gently for anywhere up to 1.5 hours. This all depends on how thick and reduced you want your sauce to be, as well as the non-stick properties of your pan. Check on the sauce regularly and stir, just to prevent it from sticking underneath. As a minimum, I’d say the simmer time needs to be at least 30 minutes.
10. Serve with rice or naan (or both), and your choice of sundries. The vegetables will be satisfyingly soft and full of flavour. If you’re lucky, you may even have enough left over for tomorrow’s lunch.