Curry 3 ways
By Dr Clare Bailey
A delicious richly flavoured curry base suggested by my colleague Parmi. Her mother would cook this paste daily, but as a working mother, Parmi prefers to cook it in batches and freeze some. Far tastier and lower in sugar than shop bought curry pastes. Serve with a cooling cucumber raitha and cauli-rice for a filling meal and one that will help re-set your metabolism and bolster your immunity.
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Makes 3 batches
4 tbsp coconut, olive or rapeseed oil
3 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
5 tsp curry powder (hot, medium or mild, to taste)
25g fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (about 10g)
20g bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan over a moderate heat with the onions. Cover with a lid and cook gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the curry powder and continue to cook for a few seconds, then stir in the ginger and garlic and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add a tablespoon of water halfway through, and again if the spices begin to stick.
3. Stir in the coriander and a further 3 tablespoons of water and cook for 1-2 minutes more, or until softened, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat.
4. Use a stick blender, or a food processor. Blitz into a paste. Skip this stage if you prefer to keep the texture. Season well with salt and ground black pepper.
5. Divide into roughly 3 portions (each for 2 people) and use immediately to make your curry, or cool and place in the fridge or freezer to use later.
Serving suggestions for the curries below – Serve with cauliflower-rice and scatter over coriander leaves if you like. Include cooked green veg or a salad.
Non-FAST DAYS: Increase portion size and serve with a drizzle of full-fat yoghurt or raitha. You might aslo include 2-3 tablespoons of brown or wild rice.
Chicken & chickpea curry
Calories per serving: 386
1 tbsp coconut, rapeseed or olive oil 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 450g), trimmed and quartered
1 batch basic curry paste
1 × 210g can chickpeas in water
1× 400g can chopped tomatoes
1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chicken and fry for 5 minutes, or until lightly coloured, turning occasionally.
2. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 2–3 minutes more, stirring regularly.
3. Add the tomatoes, half ll the can with water and pour this into the pan as well. Add the chickpeas without draining them and bring to a gentle simmer.
4. Cover loosely with a lid and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender and the sauce has thickened. Add a little extra water if needed and season well with salt and pepper.
Spinach and paneer curry
Calories per serving: 325 calories
1 batch basic curry paste, thawed if frozen
400g can chopped tomatoes
100g paneer cheese, cut into roughly 1.5cm cubes
2 generous handfuls of fresh spinach leaves (around 75g) or frozen, defrosted.
1. Put the curry paste and the tomatoes in a large, non-stick frying pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
2. Add 200ml of water, then the spinach, a handful at a time and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes more, stirring.
3. Then drop the cheese on top and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese is hot.
Red Lentil Dhal
Calories per serving: 302
80g dried red split lentils
1 batch basic curry paste
1 tbsp coconut, rapeseed or olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and sliced into rings fresh coriander leaves, to serve (optional)
1. Place the lentils, curry paste and 400ml water in a medium non-stick saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15–20 minutes, or until the lentils are very soft, stirring occasionally. Add a splash more water, if needed. The dhal should be very soft and not too thick.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small frying pan and gently fry the onion until pale golden, turning frequently. Set aside.
3. When you are ready to serve, spoon the onion rings on top of the dhal and scatter with coriander leaves, if using.