Saturday, April 13, 2013

Southern Spice - Vegetable Kurma

Dear Readers,

I grew up in Madras (now Chennai) a city in South India. My father migrated from the north western state of Rajasthan to Madras more than 30 years ago. My childhood and teen years were deeply influenced by contrasting cultures, different foods, languages and more. I picked up an affinity for jasmine flowers, coconut oil, filter coffee and thayir sadam (curd rice) whilst also loving ghee smeared fulkas, dal baati (Rajasthani speciality), Lehenga choli (Rajasthani clothes), and Rajasthani folk dance. I spoke Tamil, Hindi and English and am happy to say this influence has lingered and evolved with my move to Australia. 

So my dear readers I present to you a little token of love from South India, a spicy, fragrant and nutty concoction - Vegetable Kurma. There is a restaurant called Sarvana Bhavan in Chennai, well now it's practically everywhere in the world except Australia (woe is to me) and they serve a mean kurma, usually paired with Appam (hoppers) or Idiappam (string hoppers) - so delicious. 

In my attempt to replicate Sarvana Bhavan's kurma and introduce my hubby (Delhi boy) to this delicious dish, I tried my hand at Appams (hoppers) too. Appams are like an inverted dosa with a thick spongy centre and crisp all around and are a speciality of Kerala cuisine. Mine did not come out the way they should have, I suspect the batter was not fermented properly. I have learnt from my little disaster that thou can't rush Appam batter. 

This kurma is really delicious, fragrant with the smells of South India - curry leaves, mustard and coconut. Since I failed at making good Appams I decided to serve the kurma with Pudina Parathas. You can find the recipe here for the parathas. 

I hope you enjoy my little creation, as it's from a place I call home.



Vegetable Kurma with Appam 


Serves 6


3 Carrots, cut into 3-4 cm long pieces

2 large Potatoes, cubed

2 cups Cauliflower florets

1 cup , chopped green beans

1 Onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 tbsp Ginger paste

1/2 cup cashews

1 can Light Coconut Cream

1 cup dessicated Coconut

2 tsp White Poppy Seeds (soaked  for a few hours)

2-3 Green Chillis, make it into a paste

1 tsp Mustard Seeds

7-8 Curry leaves

Salt to taste

2 tbsp Vegetable Oil

For the Spice Mix

5 cloves

3-4 Cardamom

11/2 tsp black peppercorns

1 piece cinnamon

1 tsp Coriander Seeds

1 tsp Fennel Seeds


To start with chop all the vegetables and keep them aside. Next get started on the spice mix. Dry roast the spices on a pan till fragrant and slightly browned. Grind the roasted spices in a spice grinder till you get a really fine powder. 

Steam the potato and cauliflower in a microwave for two minutes. This will ensure the veggies cook quickly in the curry.

Next grind the cashews, dessicated coconut and the white poppy seeds to form a paste. Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves once it's hot. Next add onions and saute till translucent. Add the green chilli, ginger and garlic next and cook till the raw garlic smell disappears. 

Add the spice mix and salt to the pan followed by the coconut-cashew paste and coconut cream Mix everything well and let it cook for 5 minutes. 

Now add the vegetables to the curry and cover it with a lid and let it cook for 15 minutes on a low-med flame. Stir occasionally. If the gravy is too thick add a little water to losen it up. 

Vegetable kurma is ready to serve, enjoy with Appams, Idiappams, chappatis or Pudina Parathas.

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