Continuing with my love for Kerala cuisine, here’s another one that is pretty close to my heart – the Kerala veg kurma. A perfect accompaniment with flatbreads or just on its own. The thick, fragrant gravy is soothing and heart-warming at the same time. Of course, the veggies in there too do their bit. So, after trying my hand at the Kerala veggie stew, I am ready to notch it up higher and attempt to make this delicious Kerala Kurma.
Prep time. Will take time. But there isn’t another way out. Chop up a cup of potatoes (2 small ones). A cup of roughly chopped French beans and carrots. I had some pumpkin sulking in frigid solitude and decided to put it to good use; so a cup of that too. Didn’t have any green peas; in case you do, add in a cup of that as well. Put everything in a pot to a slow boil.
Now, take an onion and thinly slice it up before you get all teary-eyed. Keep a cup of diced tomatoes ready on the side. Get a good inch and a half of ginger and about 5-6 cloves of garlic and finely chop them up. And then if you are the sorts who like to keep the dry masalas en guard then a generous tablespoon of corriander powder, one teaspoon of red chilly powder and the same quantity of turmeric.
Remember to paste your soaked poppy seeds along with 7-8 skinned almonds. Cashews is a better bet for there is no need to skin them and they turn things richer. But I am going in with almonds. I love the thick white paste. Poppy paste is so cooling and soothing, I could waddle in a tub full of that, if I was an emperor. But, I shall get a grip on my fantasies and get back to cooking. Great!
Pan up! Heat low! Pour in about two tablespoons of coconut oil (and I added in a small spoon of pure ghee for decadence and taste) and let it warm up. Chuck in the solid spices – peppercorns, cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon. I added in a bay leaf. Stir them in till they perfume up. Add in the onions and sauté them till they turn transluscent. Add in the ginger and garlic and keep frying them till they go light brown. There is no hurrying this lovely dish. Then I added a little secret – anise seeds. They smell delightfully fresh and are cooling and add that lovely sweet aroma to whatever they go in. After a bit, add in the chopped tomatoes. Keep stirring till the tomatoes and onions are wrapped in a sweet union of culinary erotica.
The dry powdered spices go in next to up the game. Add in salt to taste and mix them in well. Now is the time to introduce the boiled vegetables so that they get ample time to befriend the base of this curry-ace. Also make sure you ladle in an ample quantity of the veggie stock. Fold them in. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Check on your kurma-in-the-making. The gorgeous ochre-red quilt would have coated up the veggies and then you slowly pour in the poppy-almond paste. Oh and how the colour changes like the alchemy.
Cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Do a taste test now to check on the salt and the flavourful spice mix. Once you have done your final tweaking, add in some coconut milk and this is when I sing like an impassioned tenor in my head. Give the kurma a final stir, as if to announce that it is ready to conquer. Annoint it with some chopped corriander leaves and then bow your head to the sheer supremacy of the Kerala Kurma LD version!