Monday, December 31, 2012

Recipe: Vegetable curry

This is my quick-and-easy version of vegetable curry that I served at various potluck events recently.
  • At the nursing unit where I did my preceptorship. They loved the curry and were surprised by the  realistic texture and flavours of the mock meat. That said, some of the Filipinos mentioned that they would prefer it spicier. Note to self: Can add more spice if cooking for Filipinos. 
  • At my GNIE completion potluck. It was a popular dish. One instructor asked my classmate to ask me, "Is there any weed in the curry?" I looked at my classmate puzzled, after all I do use some uncommon Chinese fungus/mushrooms in some of my cooking. Then it occurred to me that they are asking about marijuana. I laughed and replied, "No, no weed!" I guess the legend of a special Singaporean curry ingredient did spread to my Canadian instructor somehow.
  • At the Christmas eve dinner at my French friends home, the curry was not so popular. All except 3 (PY, PY's daughter and I) were French. 2 of the guests mentioned that the curry was too spicy for their taste. Note to self: Do not add so much spice and double the coconut milk if cooking for Europeans.
  • At Christmas dinner, my Iranian friend liked the curry but did not eat much of it since there were several other dishes.
  • Post-Christmas, I gave a box of the curry to my housemate AH. He said that his colleagues loved the fragrance when he heated up the curry using his office's microwave.

A short note about sourcing the ingredients. If you live in Metro Vancouver, you will not have any issue getting the right ingredients. You can try Asian food shops like "Smart N Save" in Lansdowne Mall (Richmond), or Great One Supermarket in Richmond (and Vancouver branch), or Chong Lee Market in Vancouver, or T&T supermaket all over Metro Vancouver.

For the curry sauce, make sure you buy the "Made in Singapore" or "Made in Malaysia" curry. The next closest is "Made in Indonesia" curry. Other curry sauce such as the Thai, Japanese, etc, will not give you the authentic Singaporean curry flavour. In addition, amongst the various Singapore/Malaysia curries, I found that the "chicken curry" typically gave the best flavour. If you read the ingredients list, you will notice that most of the "chicken curry" sauce is suitable for vegetarians as there is no animal ingredient in many of the "chicken curry" package.

Vegetarian stewed mutton

Sometimes I add vegetarian mock meat to cater to the vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. [Yeah, I am referring to those "meat-eaters" who swear that they would not eat anything without meat.] Using quality vegetarian meat is an easy way to reduce cholesterol intake in one's diet. [Note: I am mentioning this because at least 2 slim-and-healthy-looking persons in the above groups that I served the curry to actually told me personally that they have high-cholesterol levels.] I recommend the above "Made in Taiwan" soy-and-mushroom based mock meat which is sold as "vegetarian stewed mutton" at T&T. I found that the "Made in Taiwan" vegetarian mock meat products are generally of superior quality than the run-of-mill vegetarian mock meat products. Note: I avoid buying any "Made in China" vegetarian mock meat products. I just do not trust their quality control.

Lastly, if you have the time and patience, please feel free to use fresh ingredients. In addition, please feel free to add also fragrance like pandan leaf (a.k.a. bay thoy leaf) to the pot. My recipe uses pre-packed and/or frozen stuff to make it quick-and-easy for a fuss-free potluck dish.


Vegetable curry

Ingredients for a large 2L pot of curry (clockwise from top-left):

400-600ml Coconut milk [Note: Use more if cooking for people who aren't used to spicy food.]

2 packets of Chicken Curry sauce [Note: Use only 1 packet if cooking for people who aren't used to spicy food.]

400g Small washed potatoes

160g Tou-fu puffs

750g California-style frozen mixed vegetables (i.e. broccoli, cauliflowers and carrots)

1. Wash and chop the small potatoes (halves or smaller depending on the amount of cooking time you have). Put them in the pot.

2. Pour the entire bag of mixed vegetables into the pot.

3. Add the curry sauce. Add water to cover all the ingredients.

4. Bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are soft. It should take less than 20 min. [Note: If you're using slow-cooker like I sometimes do, you can set it to slow-cook and stop the cooking in around 30 to 45 min.]

5. Add coconut milk and tou-fu puffs. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Serve hot with bread (French baguette is a good match) or plain rice.

Note: If the curry turns out to be too watery because you added too much water by mistake, fear not! Just stir peanut butter, or any nut butter, into the curry and it will add thickness and flavour to the curry.

Quick-and-easy curry,
ready for potluck!

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