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Meatless korma fills ‘Veganuary’ bill

My family, as evidenced in this blog, is not vegetarian. But we enjoy meatless meals several times per week. My partner, in particular, says he happily would eat Indian-style dishes nearly every day.

This korma with the common Indian combination of potato and green peas is the latest example. I made this dish over the weekend when our refrigerator produce bin again was running low, but I had all the ingredients called for here — or reasonable approximations — in the freezer and pantry.

Because I didn’t have whole almonds, I used blanched, slivered almonds which saved me the step of peeling the nuts. Next time I might soak them, though, as directed here.

Instead of fresh green chiles, I had roasted garden chiles in my freezer. And never one to buy fresh tomatoes in winter, I reached for a can of whole plum tomatoes. To make up for the acid of fresh tomatoes, we squeezed a lemon wedge over the finished dish, garnished with sliced scallions for lack of cilantro.

We commonly keep naan in the freezer but this time enjoyed paratha stocked on Trader Joe’s frozen foods aisle. This recipe is from the same source as the cabbage and carrot kootu posted earlier this month. Both — provided butter was omitted from the korma — are good candidates for “Veganuary” meals.

Tribune New Service photo

Potato and Peas Korma

16 whole almonds, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 fresh green chile peppers

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, divided

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, divided

2 thick slices fresh, peeled ginger

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon oil

2 to 4 curry leaves (optional)

1 bay leaf

2 to 4 (1/2 -inch-long) slivers cinnamon sticks

1 cup coarsely chopped onion

2 cups chopped tomatoes, divided

2 cups peeled and cubed Idaho potatoes (about 1-inch cubes)

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

In a cup, soak the whole almonds in hot water for 10 minutes. Remove their skins.

In a blender, combine the coconut, green chiles, almonds, 1 teaspoon of the cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of the fennel seeds, the ginger and 2 cups hot water. Grind into a smooth paste.

In a wide-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. When oil is hot, add the curry leaves, bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, remaining 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and remaining 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds. Stir-fry for a few minutes, until fragrant and seeds brown.

Add the onion and 1 cup of the tomatoes; stir-fry for a few minutes.

Add the potatoes and turmeric; stir well for 1 minute. Add the curry powder and stir well with potatoes for a couple of minutes.

Add coconut spice paste along with the salt and 2 cups warm water; mix thoroughly.

When mixture begins to boil, add remaining 1 cup chopped tomatoes and the peas. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender.

Garnish with the cilantro.

Makes 4 servings.

— Recipe from “Vegetarian Flavors With Alamelu” by Alamelu Vairavan (Hippocrene Books; November 2020).