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Bitter herbs & warm curry 01/12/11

Kath Fourie ponders why we eat rice with curry.

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I often wonder why we eat rice with curry? Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive fan of a vast variety of rices – but I like to be able to taste the rice and appreciate it’s texture rather than use it as a way to soak up curry gravy. I find it’s just a waste of valuable stomach space that I would rather cram with more spicy vegetable goodness.

When I am in charge of my own gastric destiny at home, I like to eat curry with a side of bitter, crunchy, still-screaming-fresh-from-the-garden herby leaves instead of rice. This could also be attributed to the fact that I am the worst cooker of rice known to man, and leaving my rice machine in South Korea was one of the saddest moments of my culinary life.

My mum came up with a particularly tasty match of butternut, brinjal and red pepper curry which is just awesome combined with a mouthful of rocket, nasturtium and sorrel. KwaZulu-Natal has been an absolute rainy pit the last few  weeks, and I am still wearing fluffy slippers and hoodies even though it’s the middle of January! Because of this pooey weather we’ve been happy to eat some foodie fare that is usually saved for winter. At the moment we can get butternuts at R29 a pocket (for an enormous pocket!) down the road at our local fruit and veg shop, so naturally we’ve been busting out with these lovely golden orbs. Butternuts are an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, potassium and very high in vitamin A, so I reckon eating this curry would be much more fun than taking multi-vitamins…

Pamela Mary’s Butternut, Brinjal and Red Pepper Curry

Ingredients (serves 6):
– 3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped up (my mum likes to throw a few whole cloves in their skins in too for good luck – but she is a garlic maniac)
– 1 big onion, chopped (we like red onions for the sweet factor)
– 1 big butternut, peeled and chopped (you can leave the pips in if you like, some people like the extra crunch)
– 3 biggish brinjals or a whole whack of baby ones, depends what looks good at your local shop. Chop them up!
– 2 large red peppers. We cube ours because if they’re too finely cut they turn into slush. Take a few slices off one of the peppers for a nice decoration though, slice it like you would cut a tomato and you’ll get a very pretty clover shaped red ring.
– a handful of new baby potatoes (just chop them in half)
– 1 big green courgette (we just threw this in to use it up, I hate wasting food and this lad was going spare in the back of the fridge)
– 2 chillies (red or green) chopped up and 2 chillies (red or green) whole, thrown into the whole mix.
– The juice of 2.5 lemons. Also, keep two halves of the lemons once you’ve squeezed them, stud them with cloves and add them to the curry when it’s cooking.
– Cinnamon pieces and 2 tsp ground cinnamon
– Star Anise (2 or 3)
–  1 or 2 tsp cumin powder
– a few cardamom pods (you need to crush the pods to release the black seeds within)
– 1 x tin of tomatoes (or fresh if you’re in the mood)
– and the crowning glory – 2 -3 tablespoons of Rajah Medium Heat curry powder! My mum used to mock me for loving Rajah and would refuse to buy it, opting for curry pastes and other fancy-pants things…until she tasted a curry at someones house and was all like ‘This is incredible!’ and was then told by the chef that the key ingredient was Rajah!

– For the bitter salad I marched off into the garden with scissors and snipped a few lettuce leaves, baby rocket, sorrel, nasturtium flowers and coriander. I may have also thrown some fresh basil in there too…I don’t think you can go very wrong with salad herbs. I think…


– Fry up the onions and garlic and all the spices (including the curry powder) in a good dosing of cooking oil. Use a big, wide based saucepan.
–  Add all the vegetables (but not the lemons) and the tin of tomatoes, you might need to add a bit of water too. Just use your intuition.
– Squeeze the juice of the lemons over the vegetables, and then stud the lemons with cloves. Add two halves to the curry mix, and let it simmer.
– Once the vegetables are cooked through and you have a red, steamy gravy you’re ready to eat!
– Pile up your bitter salad leaves, serve up your curry and spoon a dollop of thick plain yoghurt on top for good measure.

Text and Images Kath Fourie

Bitter herbs & warm curry, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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One Responses to this article

editor January 12, 2011 Reply

I would never have thought of serving curry with salad leaves, but it seems like a great alternative to curry and rice.

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