Although vegans must grow weary of hearing this "compliment" bestowed on a meatless dish, I have to say it here: You won't miss the meat. Small, yellow-fleshed potatoes cook quickly while tomatoes, shallots and bell pepper soften and lend flavor to the curry base.
Black mustard seeds might be easier to obtain than the fresh curry leaves called for here; we found the seeds at Balducci's as well as at Indian markets, where the leaves are available. If you can't find the leaves, a sprinkle of lime juice just before serving will suffice.
- 6 medium shallots
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 1-inch piece ginger root
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 8 fingerling potatoes (may substitute very small new potatoes)
- 4 large dried red chili peppers, such as ancho or guajillo
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup large whole cashews, roasted and unsalted
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (see headnote)
- 6 to 8 fresh curry leaves (optional; see headnote)
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar
- 14 ounces (1 can) reduced-fat coconut milk
- 1 lime (optional; see headnote)
Peel the shallots and cut them lengthwise in quarters. Finely chop the garlic to yield 2 teaspoons. Peel the ginger, then finely grate to yield 1 tablespoon. Stem and seed the bell pepper, then cut into thin slices. Cut the tomatoes into quarters; cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces (no need to peel). Stem and seed the dried chili peppers. Lightly salt the mixture and toss to coat.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cashews and shallots; cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts just start to brown.
Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves to taste, if using; cook for a few minutes, until the seeds start to pop and crackle. Add the garlic, ginger, dried chili peppers, red bell pepper and turmeric. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until aromatic, then stir in the brown sugar.
Add the tomatoes, potatoes and coconut milk; once the milk is heated through and is bubbling at the edges, reduce the heat to medium-low and partially cover. The curry will seem too thick, but after you cook it for about 15 minutes the tomatoes and peppers will release some liquid, and the shallots and potatoes will be tender. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Divide among individual bowls; if you haven't used curry leaves, cut the lime into quarters and sprinkle each portion with lime juice.
Serve hot, with basmati rice.
Adapted from "Easy Vegan: Simple Recipes for Healthy Eating" (Ryland Peters & Small, 2010).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.