keralan vegetable curry (+ review of leon book 2)
Our copy of the Leon cookbook is one of the more well-thumbed volumes on the shelf; full of wholesome dishes served at the London chain as well as other hearty numbers, including a flavour-packed lentil and pancetta soup which is a staple in our household. The second book, aptly titled ‘Leon Book 2, Naturally Fast Food’, peppered with more highly accessible recipes from Leon founders’ Dimbleby and Vincent (and their near and dear), looks set to be just as indispensable for our everyday home cooking.
The bright and cheerful book has a fun scrapbook-like layout and the 200+ recipes are divided into two sections. The first, ‘Fast Food’ features speedy ideas for all occasions – breakfast smoothies, vibrant salads, 20-minute curries, barbecue and picnic ideas, kiddie snacks and teatime treats. I threw together the Pasta and Peas in no time at all, with convenient staples in the freezer and store cupboard. A Southern Indian Pepper Chicken was equally easy to rustle up and satisfyingly fiery, although would have benefited from a lengthier marinating time for increased depth of flavour.
In the ‘Slow Fast Food’ section you’ll find a range of stews, roasts, preserves and potted meats that are no less simple to prepare but more for weekends or days when you time to leisurely potter about in the kitchen. Not all are off-limits for midweek however – I made the Chicken Pot Roast for a no-fuss Monday supper, and although not terribly exciting (I shall try the more adventurous Spanish or Indian variants next time), it was just the thing to start off the week. I plan to try Bruno Loubet’s Osso Bucco and Riga’s Lamb (a Grecian recipe for slow-roasted leg roast baked with macaroni) soon, both perfect now that winter is upon us.
Many of the recipes are inspired by memories from the authors’ childhood or travels abroad, like this Vegetable Curry, a recipe Henry picked up when honeymooning with wife Mima in Kerala. A real rustic and comforting dish with a subtle hint of spice; B loved it so much I made it twice in the space of a week.
Keralan Vegetable Curry
4 courgettes, diagonally sliced
2 carrots, cut into thick batons
2 aubergines, cut into chunky cubes
1/4 onion, roughly chopped
2 green chillies
200ml (6.7 fl oz) coconut milk
1/2 tsp grund cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
freshly ground black pepper
1 lime (optional)
First make the curry paste. Place the coconut milk, green chillies (deseed them first if you prefer a milder curry), onions and cumin into a food processor or blender and blitz to a paste. Set aside.
In a medium pan dry fry the turmeric on a high heat for a minute then toss in the chopped vegetables and 200ml (6.7 fl oz) of water. Give everything a quick stir then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, or until tender.
Add the prepared paste to the pan and mix with the vegetables and pan juices. Cook gently for another 5 minutes, then remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with basmati rice and a squeeze of lime juice, if desired.