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Chana-sag-aloo-dal (madras)

April 6, 2009

Serves 4 hungry/greedy people

This is a perennial favourite in our house because one of the few things we really miss from the UK is a good curry, so we have created this combination of several of our favourite dishes and is a fabulous combination. (Chana is chick peas, sag is spinach, aloo is potatoes and dal are lentils.) If you are lightweights and like your curries milder, use ordinary curry powder and add more a bit later if you want and have some natural yogurt on standby to cool things down if necessary. Wine is always good with curry, especially a tasty red syrah (shiraz). The curry and lager combination is a myth in terms of its ability to cool the mouth, as is water, but yogurt works. If you like it hotter, add some chilli powder but this level of hotness ensures that you can still taste the flavours of the spices and vegetable ingredients….mmm

Humpbuckle Hint: we have found ingredients for Indian food difficult to source in France. However, Spices of India, deliver to France and if that were not enough, they are really friendly and helpful too.

2 large onions cut into chunks

1 tbs sunflower oil

4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp whole galangal

1 tsp whole cardamon pods

1 large tbs madras curry paste (I use Pataks)

2 tsp madras curry powder

1 level tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp garam masala

½ tsp tamarind paste or 1 tsp mango chutney

500ml hot water or stock from cooking the potatoes.

400g cooked diced potatoes

400g tin of chickpeas

200g frozen chopped spinach

200g frozen leaf spinach

400g cooked brown lentils

1 carton of tomato passata or a large tin of tomatoes

Heat the oil in a large, solid pan on a medium heat. Add the onions and whole spices. Cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions are soft.

Add the garlic and cook gently for about 2 minutes. Add the curry paste and the other spices. Cook for a further minute or two, stirring to mix all the spices with the onions. The smell by now will be incredible and will make you want to eat it straight away, but patience is required and starting to cook curry the day before or the morning before you eat it will allow the flavours to infuse and intensify.

Add the water, tomatoes, tamarind or chutney and spinach then bring to the boil. Break up the tomatoes a bit if they are tinned whole ones.

Turn the pan down to a low simmer. Ensure the spinach is thawed and mixed in.

Cook with a lid on for about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, lentils and chick peas and stir all in.

Simmer for another 10 minutes with the lid on, checking after 5mins that it is not sticking.

There should be ample sauce to soak into your rice when you serve it, so if it seems a bit dry add some more water, about 50ml at a time. The sauce should be a very rich, dark brown and fairly thick.

If you find the sauce is too sloppy don’t panic, as you can add a large tablespoon of flour, stir in to disperse on a low heat then cook for a further 5 minutes.

Taste the curry and adjust seasoning. I do not add salt as the spices are so tasty, but you may prefer to. More spices can be added at this point if you like.

Serve with basmati rice, naan, chapati… on a jacket potato…. Whatever you like… Enjoy.

Vegetarianandveganfrance.com & 3placedesarbres.com. Vegetarian & Vegan recipes from the kitchen of a vegetarian chambres d’hotes in the heart of France

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