Have you ever seen an ingredient in the market and wondered what it was? And how to use it?
I know I have and I am a culinary school graduate!
But that’s the wonderful thing about cooking and food — there’s always a new discovery to be made. By stepping a little outside our comfort zones, we can find amazing, show-stealing, and just plain yummy new ingredients for our recipes. It’s so incredibly fun!
Last Saturday, I was given a tour of L.A.’s Little India district by my friend and fellow food blogger Rashmi Nigam (her excellent, enjoyable site is Yum Kid).
Indian cuisine fascinates me as it’s so varied! (And well, I guess India is a pretty big place. ) And it’s so full of unbelievable flavors!
I came home from my day with Rashmi with many new ingredients, things to try, and goodies, including curry leaves. I learned that although curry powder may once have included curry leaves among its ingredients, there is no relation between the two.
The curry leaves were just the beginning of my inspiration for this vegetarian stew, and their flavor became the foundation for the main ingredients. The curry leaf flavor is a bit like a very mild curry powder, but with a strong herb-like, citrus aroma.
And did you know slow cooking isn’t just for meat?! No, no, my friends, you can slow cook vegetables for hours! This creates incredible, intense flavors and melt-in-your-mouth textures, such as appear in this Curried Corn Stew! Simply incredible!
While spring approaches, I’m taking advantage of every remaining cool day for these big, one pot meals of comfort foods! Please join me! You will wow all of your weekend guests with this. I promise!
Curried Corn Stew with Lentils and Sweet Potato
1/4 cup grsapeseed oil
About 1-1/2 dozen fresh curry leaves, removed from stems, washed and dried
1-1/2 cups brown onion, cut into a medium dice
1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated, fresh ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons finely minced, fresh garlic
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 crushed, dried chile japones
3 cups sweet potato, peeled and cut into large dice
1 heaping cup dried yellow lentils
3 ears corn, cut into approximately 1to 2 inch rounds
1-1/8 cup coconut milk
3-3/4 cup vegetable broth
A handful of whole basil leaves (about 2 dozen), washed and dried
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
- Coat a large oven safe pot, fitted with a lid (a Dutch oven is perfect) with the grapeseed oil. Warm the oil over medium-high heat. Then add the curry leaves and let them sizzle for about 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove the leaves, making sure to let all of the excess oil drain off the spoon and back into the pot. (The leaves can be discarded.)
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion to the pot. Cook until it's soft, about 5 minutes. Then add the ginger, garlic and spices. Cook until this becomes very aromatic, about 3 minutes.
- Add the sweet potato, lentils and corn to the pot. Stir to combine.
- Mix the coconut milk with the vegetable broth and then add it to the pot. It should just about cover the vegetables. Cover the pot and place it in the preheated oven for about 3 hours. When it's done, the lentils should be tender and the potatoes should look almost pureed. Gently stir the stew about every 45 minutes or so.
- Remove from the oven, add the basil leaves, and season to taste with sea salt if necessary.
Yes, you can remove the kernels from the cob before (or after) the cooking process -- but, it's extra delicious this way! The flavors seep into each kernel and seem to be held in place there by the core. Just pick it up with your hands! It's worth any messiness that might ensue!
You can find curry leaves at most Indian, and some Asian markets. Or here!
©2012 Cooking On The Weekends/BlazingBright, Inc.
3-1/2 hours ahead of time: Prep the ingredients, make the curry leaf oil, sauté the onion mixture, and add the remaining ingredients to the pot.
3 hours ahead: Put the stew in the oven and cook.
You can make the entire stew up to two days ahead. (When you warm it, you’ll likely need to add a bit more vegetable broth to thin it a bit.)