At the ages of seven and almost five, my children often say funny things. Long ago a friend recommended that I write down their cute little sayings, insisting that I wouldn’t remember. It was one of those ideas that made perfect sense at the time and yet is something that I just never did. And, although I thought I could rely on my very good memory, I don’t remember all the cute little things they have said over the years. The only ones I remember are those I wrote down on this blog, captured either with my phone or the flip camera, or the ones I told so many times that they are burned into my memory.
Last night, Graham said, “I have a good idea. If people want to eat your yummy food, we could open a window in our house, just like Taco Time!”
And now for some clarification. First of all, Taco Time is not Taco Bell. It is a locally owned fast food-ish place where the emphasis is on fresh. I haven’t eaten at Taco Bell since my early 20′s but I don’t mind Taco Time. Second of all, I’m not a drive-thru kind of person but last summer our beloved babysitter took them through there and on to the park where they had a picnic. They are still talking about it six months later. Third of all, when Graham was the praises of my food, he was not talking about this Two Potato Vindaloo. He was talking about a taco (sense a theme?) that I made him with black beans, cheese, homemade salsa and guacamole.
So no, we are not quite at the point where I feed my children Two Potato Vindaloo although I think that Graham, my hearty and relatively adventurous eater, would probably have liked it. I have, oh, about one ton of leftovers in the refrigerator so maybe we will give it a try tonight. I know that Spencer would not touch it. But I bet, if I opened a take-out window in my house (a friend on Facebook called it the Dana Treat Drive Thru), I would sell out of this dish.
This recipe comes from the beloved Plenty cookbook. I swear this book has magic powers. I feel like each time I open it, there are delicious things in there that I have never seen, never noticed. This recipe, starring both red potatoes and sweet potatoes, I always notice and the only reason I haven’t made it until now is that I don’t always have fresh curry leaves on hand. You could, of course, leave them out, but I dearly love curry leaves and just the scent of them as they hit the pan reminds of me the year we lived in London and all the amazing Indian food I ate there.
I made a few changes, streamlined the cooking time. Ground spices instead of toasting whole ones and then grinding them. Canned tomatoes instead of fresh (have you seen “fresh” tomatoes in Seattle these days? Yuck.) I have the British version of the book so I always tweak the recipes a bit with the measurements and all. Having made so many delicious things from this book, I have learned to trust Mr. Ottolenghi’s taste. I hesitated at the amount of vinegar in this dish but the acidity cut through the any heaviness that curries can sometimes have and also helped boost the flavor of the spices. I’m telling you, that man is a genius. The only other thing I can add is that, unless you are vegan, definitely add a dollop of plain yogurt to your bowl. More acidity and some creaminess are most welcome in this curry.
Unless you live near an Indian grocery, fresh curry leaves can be hard to find. If you do use them, they are totally edible. I like the way they taste but you can also pick them out like bay leaves. I know some people substitute bay leaves for curry leaves (I haven’t tried it – the flavors are not the same), but if you do I would only use four of them and be sure to pick them out before serving. Don’t worry if you don’t have fenugreek seeds – just leave them out.
½ tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground tumeric
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
6 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
½ tsp. mustard seeds
½ tsp. fenugreek seeds
12 large or 24 small curry leaves
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
1 fresh red chile, seeded and finely chopped
1 14-ouce can diced tomatoes
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1-inch chunks
Mint and/or cilantro to garnish
In a small bowl, combine all the spices except the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Set aside.
Place a large heavy based pot over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil along with the shallots, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and a large pinch of salt. Sauté for about 8 minutes, or until the shallots brown. (You might want to have a lid handy in case the mustard seeds start to pop.) Stir in the spice mix, curry leaves, ginger, and chile, and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes (with their juice), vinegar, water, sugar, and another pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then leave to simmer, covered for 10 minutes.
Add the potatoes and red peppers and simmer for another 20 minutes. For the last stage, add the sweet potatoes. Make sure all the vegetables are just immersed in the sauce (add more water if needed) and continue cooking, covered, for about 20 more minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
Remove the lid and leave to bubble away for about 10 minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce. Serve hot with plain rice and garnished with herbs. Serve yogurt for garnishing at the table.