I was speaking to my friend Miss N the other day, who has recently decided she wants to learn how to cook! Horay! I love when people are interested in learning to cook! But it makes me wonder, if she is only NOW learning to cook, how has she gotten by all this time? Processed, pre-packaged foods? The thought of a box of Easy-Mac (I’m looking at you Miss R) makes my stomach queasy, especially when making REAL Macaroni Cheese is so damn easy. My motto is: if you can’t understand the ingredients listed on the back without a degree in science, don’t eat it. You don’t know what is going in your body, plus, you are missing out on a lot of essential vitamins, proteins, and good fats.
So, I want to do a series for people like Miss N who want to learn to cook, and need some easy, healthy and affordable recipes for their repertoire. Today’s recipe is one of my favourite go-to recipes: lamb korma. It’s not quite a traditional korma as I’ve added in some pumpkin and green beans for added vitamins and because it makes it an easy one-pot-meal. It’s also great because it’s really versatile; if you don’t like lamb, use chicken; if you don’t have pumpkin or beans, use what you’ve got. Just stick to the spice base and use what you’ve got. Feel free to double the quantities, making extra to freeze and take for work lunches (you’ll be the envy of the entire office).
Don’t be scared by the list of ingredients: half of them are spices which are all together in the spice isle of your supermarket and all you have to do is dump them in. Plus they have added health benefits: turmeric in particular has anti-inflammatory powers, helps heal wounds, improves pancreatic functions and is thought to fight cancer. Ginger too is good for fighting cancer and inflammation, while fresh garlic improves the immune system and has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol.
You’ll only need a little bit of each spice, so initially you may need to invest a little in your spice collection. If you buy the spices in packets rather than bottles they’re usually cheaper, but be sure to store them in glass to keep them fresh. But once you’ve got them they’ll keep in the cupboard for months, allowing you to make this delicious HEALTHY curry again and again.
W/ PUMPKIN & GREEN BEANS
2 tbsp oil (any is fine, but I use coconut for added health benefits)
1 brown onion, chopped
10 green cardamom pods
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
3 cloves of garlic, crushed (please don’t use the jar stuff!)
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup tomato paste
500g diced lamb
2 cups (500ml) water
1 cup (250g) natural yoghurt, plus extra to serve
1/2 (500g) butternut pumpkin
200g green beans
fresh coriander to serve (optional)
steamed rice to serve
- In a large, deep saute pan or saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat and add onion. Fry for a few minutes until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.
- Lightly bruise the cardamon pods using a motor & pestle, or just beat them lightly with a rolling pin. Add to the onion with the turmeric, cinnamon stick, cumin, coriander, chilli and paprika. Stir and allow to cook for a minute to release the flavours of the spices, about 1 minute.
- Add the garlic and ginger, and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Make sure you don’t burn the garlic as it will make the curry bitter. You need to fry the garlic a little though to get rid of the raw taste.
- Stir through the tomato paste, before adding the lamb. Cook, stirring, until the lamb has sealed (the surface of the lamb will change colour from raw red to brown).
- Add the water and the yoghurt and stir through. Reduce heat to low and leave to cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender. Check occasionally to make sure there is enough liquid in the pan otherwise it will burn. The sauce should thicken to a runny gravy consistancy.
- While the curry is cooking, peel the pumpkin and discard the seeds. Cut into 2cm cubes and set aside. Cut the top and bottom off the beans and cut into 5cm lengths.
- Once the meat is tender, add the pumpkin and cook for another 15 minutes until almost tender. Add the beans and cook for another 5 minutes until everything is cooked.
- Serve hot over rice with extra yoghurt and fresh coriander.