Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Meatless Day Challange: Southern Indian Vegetable Curry with Curry Leaves

For those of you who cook at lot, I believe that you have quite a collection of cookbooks at home. Some of them have been untouched; most have been browsed through, while the others have bookmarks made with torn papers so you will remember the recipe to cook for the following day or next week.

I have this cookbook by Jamie Oliver which was given to me by my sister for my birthday about 4 years ago. I try not to buy cookbooks because most of the time I don’t follow the recipe. I do get inspiration by visiting the bookstore but I do control myself not to buy anything at the moment. So, whenever I look at a recipe, whether in cookbooks, magazines or the internet, I browse through it and change everything. Well, not exactly everything. Sometimes, when you don’t have an ingredient that the recipe calls for, you have to substitute it for something else. There are times that an impromptu idea would come up and there are also days that I want to cook spontaneously without looking through the recipe and follow every measurement and ingredient, which is what happens all the time.

For this week’s meatless day challenge, I came across this recipe while searching for dishes that contain curry leaves. And I happened to have some curry leaves in the freezer that needs to be used up. I was inspired to make this dish because of the cooler weather these past few days. But every time I cook a warming dish, the weather starts to change as well. But it's a good thing that it cools down at night.

While I followed the recipe for the spices, I changed the ingredients for the vegetables. You can actually use other vegetables other than the recipe calls for. The measurements are actually approximates, by the way. I was surprised that mom went for second servings as her taste with vegetables are very oriental.

This dish is definitely in need of rice and lots of cilantro leaves.

Here’s the original recipe from Jamie Oliver.

Southern Indian Vegetable Curry with Curry Leaves
(adapted from JamieOliver.com with slight variations)

Makes 4 servings

1 large onion
2 fresh green chillies
5 oz cauliflower (about 150 grams)
5 oz pumpkin
1 large Japanese eggplant
7 oz cherry tomatoes (about 200 grams)
12 small okra
1 cup cooked chickpeas

1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground cumin seeds
½ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp chilli powder
a bunch of curry leaves

2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 to 1-1/2 cup coconut milk
unrefined sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

cilantro (to serve)
cooked brown basmati rice (to serve)

Before starting, you can prepare the following ahead of time: cooking the chickpeas, blanching the tomatoes to remove the skin (optional), and squeezing out coconut milk from the coconut meat (optional).

To prepare your mise en place, first peel and slice the onion, deseed and chop the chili. De-stem the cherry tomatoes. Next, cut the cauliflower, pumpkin, eggplant into bite size pieces (cut them to make sure that they cook at the same time); Trim off the okra and gather the chickpeas.
Next, measure all the spice ingredients, remove the curry leaves off the stem, gather the coconut oil and coconut milk.

To cook the curry, heat a large heavy-bottomed pan or wok (with cover). Add the coconut oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the mustard seeds and fry until they start to pop. Lower the heat slightly and add the green chilies, curry leaves, onions, coriander, cumin seeds, garam masala, turmeric and chili powder. Stir and cook over a medium heat until the onion is soft. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, pumpkin, eggplant and chickpeas. Pour in 1 cup of coconut milk and bring to simmer. Lower the heat, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add in the okra. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes more until the okra is tender (but I prefer them slightly crunchy) . If the dish is a little bit dry, add more coconut milk. Season the dish with salt and pepper.

To serve the dish, transfer to large platter. Serve with cilantro and brown basmati rice. Serve immediately.


Gluten-Free; Dairy-Free; Vegan

If you like this recipe, you may also like this Chana Masala (Curried Chickpeas) from Rouxbe Online Cooking School. Chickpeas never looked this good.

Dive in and enjoy.

Love and light,

Print Recipe


  1. Cool! I love the aroma from curry leaves. So fragrant. I would definitely cook something like that. And I am the same with you. I don't usually follow cookbooks and just adapt and change it. But I do like cookbooks with stories.

  2. I love your mix of vegetables, and it is simply delightful to scroll through the photos here.

  3. That's my type of curry...with coconut milk....yum. Sometimes I go for all vegetable curry too. It's just so good with rice. Great for this cold weather here.

  4. Wow...looks so yummy. I like cauliflower and pumpkin with curry...

  5. So many flavours packed into one dish, very nice indeed! Great photos!

  6. Wow, love the pics and I can smell the aroma of curry leaves. Just had my dinner and now I'm hungry already!

  7. Your version of JO's curry dish is spectacular! Most definitely rice and cilantro are the perfect accompaniments to it. I've been curious about cooking with curry leaves; it's not something readily available in our grocery stores so I'll need visit our local Asian and Indian markets (it's about time, too - I need to stock up on some basic staples). Great dish!

  8. looks great like what my mum in law would cook i need to send you some better looking curry leaves though lol Rebecca

  9. This is dry version vegetables curry and it's really tasty. Actually, you can work out some baking & deep drying recipes with the curry leaves too. It works pretty good as well!

  10. Divina, love your vegetarian challenge. Beautiful curry! Robin

  11. I need to find some curry leaves and freeze them too, so I have ingredients on hand for a dish such as this! Yum!

  12. that looks great! I'm a huge meat eater but this is something I would love to have. That last photo looks so tasty

  13. A wonderful veggie curry and I'm happy to find this excellent recipe with curry leaves - saw some at my supermarket the other day and will pick them up to make this!

  14. I do so agree, cookbooks and recipes are merely suggestions on what and how to cook foods - making adjustments creates a dish more suitable for you....

  15. I totally agree with your philosophy about substituting and changing it up with recipes. This is my kinda curry, comfort food, great photography too.

  16. This looks like such a flavorful dish! You make eating healthy look so easy! I've never cooked with curry leaves, but I'm going to seek it out for this dish.

  17. I couldn't find curry leaves here, I'm missing my favorite stores in NY.
    I'm sure with time I will find everything I need here too. I love curry made by scratch, its amazing aromatic and flavorful. Loved your pictures.

  18. what a beutiful dish for a meatless day!congrats!

  19. I would think even the most dedicated carnivore would love this, it's so incredibly flavorful and fragrant - a feast for all the senses!

  20. you're pictures for this are amazing. the dish looks fantastic. Curry, chick peas and coconut milk are an amazingly comforting and satisfying combination.

  21. Mouth watering! Such a beautiful dish :)

  22. Wonderful photography and colors – the veg curry looks scrumptious!

    I've an award waiting for you at my blog.

    All the best,


  23. Looks wonderful. I love veggie dishes. Your photos are absolutely stunning, as always!

  24. Hooray for cauliflower! I've been using it a lot lately -- such a great ingredient to work with and so hearty!

  25. Looks delicious! LOL, I do the same exact thing with cookbooks... must be a specialized form of recipe ADD.

  26. I am a big fan of Jamie O's. He's a wonderful evangelist for healthy, good for us, food (as are you). And I love your rendition of this dish. Your photos are getting better all the time, Divina! Wow! And, I LOVE your new twitter photo. So pretty!

  27. This looks so good! I have yet to really do anything with curry, but the hubby has requested it. I also don't really follow recipes, but when they give good tips like toasting the spices to bring out flavor and such I try to listen :)

  28. Oh such pretty pretty photos!

  29. This dish looks so tempting and inviting!
    Sometimes we can't follow the recipe, simply because the ingredients are not easily found, or have to adjust to personal taste. Good adaption, and love your pics, Divina!

  30. This looks so good! I'd like some now please :) Also, I'm loving the meatless day once a week challenge you have!

  31. absolutely beautiful Divina!! Im making this.

  32. I love that idea of meatless day once a week. I guess I can count yesterday as meatless but I'm not sure it's any better that I consumed an exorbitant amount cheese?!

    Lovely pictures Divina!

  33. I'm like you Divina - I get inspiration as well from cookbooks and rarely follow a recipe! I also get inspiration from blogs like yours that come up with such wonderful recipes like this one!

  34. Looks great, I love all the veggies, we have almost meatless day when we have an egg dish about once a week. I think its a great way to save money too

  35. That's cool Divina, I like your meatless day challenge. Your interpretation sound delicious. I'll keep it on my idea list. We usually do Indian for meatless days since it's very tasty. hmmm.. maybe it's the ghee?

  36. as far as i love the vegetable dish itself, i also fall for the mix of spices completely!

  37. Hmm, this is Indian for sure. The addition of coconut milk makes it South Indian. In the South we add coconut and coconut milk for almost everything.


Your comments, suggestions, feedback are all welcome.