I confess that I’m almost always in the mood for curry. My wife, Samantha, would happily tell you how annoyingly often I suggest a curry for dinner. She, however, is not so keen and frequently holds me in check. This is probably a good thing as, unrestrained, I would probably melt my insides over time with spices. I don’t typically make curries with a lot of heat, mostly because I share them with Sam, but also because I enjoy a balance of flavour. Harmony, in my opinion, beats heat every time.
This vegan dish makes use of everyday ingredients, butternut squash, button mushrooms and even frozen peas. It also allows you to reach into the back of your cupboard for those cannellini beans you’ve been meaning to get around to. The spices are all common, some individual and some blends, all easily acquired at any supermarket, either from the spice rack or the world food section. I use garam masala and cinnamon early on in the recipe, while still cooking the squash. I do this to infuse the base notes of the dish from the beginning, the earthy pungency of the cumin and cardamon, as well as the richness of the cinnamon, letting them work their magic right through the cooking process. The rest are added later, just a few minutes before the liquid. The curry contains no onion, and I don’t think it would suffer at all without the garlic either, so feel free to try it without.
Vegan Butternut Squash and Mushroom Curry
Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 1 hour
2 tbsp coconut oil
½ butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced into 1-inch chunks
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp ground cinnamon
150g button mushrooms, halved
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and well drained
2 tsp minced garlic (2-3 cloves)
1 tsp minced ginger (about ¾ inch cube)
2 heaped tbsp hot madras curry powder
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1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 ½ tsp wholegrain mustard
1 medium tomato, cut into wedges
The juice of 1 lemon
A generous sprinkle of salt
1 can coconut milk
100g frozen peas
Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok that has a lid (you can use tin foil if you don’t have one). Cook the butternut squash pieces on a medium heat, without the lid, for 10 minutes, stirring often. Once they have started to brown, put on the lid and cook for another 10 minutes to cook the squash through.
Remove the lid and stir in the garam masala and cinnamon, then cook for another 4 minutes or so. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 6 minutes, then put in the cannellini beans and give it 6 minutes more. Stir frequently.
Now begin building up the rest of your spices. Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir through. Cook for 2 minutes to get the flavours going, then stir in the madras powder, cumin, fenugreek and mustard. You’ll have quite a dry mix now. Cook this through for 3-4 minutes, then add the tomatoes and squeeze over the lemon juice.
Give the dish 3-4 minutes more of cooking time and then pour in the coconut milk and the water. Bring to the boil, then gently simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the frozen peas about 10 minutes before the end of cooking.
Serve with basmati rice.