My Mum has always been a keen gardener and I remember her growing an abundance of fruit and vegetables as we grew up. My brother and I wrestling on the grass whilst she tended to the the fruit patches or veggies in the green house on many dreamy and warm late summer evenings.
Occasionally my brother and I would get involved, sowing seeds, weeding, watering and our favourite part but also most important, HARVESTING! We were not very good at the actual labour that was required to reach the harvesting stages and we easily got bored of waiting for plants to grow. Especially after we attempted to grow a Hobnob tree. Here us out… our logic was that it was made of oats which came from the ground and if we planted a biscuit surely we could grow a hobnob tree. Despite our religious watering and tending to it’s little patch in the ground no biscuity looking plantlets had sprouted from the earth.
However, a few years on I have rekindled my love of gardening. Early in this spring I dug up my own veggie patch in which, after much deliberation I decided to plat broccoli and parsnips. Unfortunately, the broccoli has been brutally attacked by cabbage fly and it’s larvae but hopefully I will have better luck with the parsnips. My Mum is always growing new fruit and vegetables ach year but she always leaves enough space in the green house for tomatoes. Every summer we don’t just end up with a few but a whole glut of them. The bucketful of rosy, sun kissed baubles tumbling all over the kitchen table were the inspiration for this recipe.
This curry is an easy one pot meal to make. It tastes warming and creamy with lovely mellow flavours from the garam masala and mustard seeds which are spiked by the sumac; berry similar in flavour to citrus lemons but slightly more sharp. The fresh mint is not essential but it compliments the citrussy flavour in the curry perfectly. However, what’s essential is allowing the time in between each stage to allow the flavours to amalgamate and develop because it allows the onions and tomatoes to lose their pungent acidity and sweeten.
(This recipe serves 4)
- 2 tbsp oil (I use sunflower or coconut)
- large onion (finely sliced)
- 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped/minced)
- 4 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- pinch of cayenne pepper/chilli powder (add more depending on taste buds)
- 150ml water
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 700g fresh tomatoes roughly chopped into halves/quarters depending on their size
- tin of puy lentils (drained)
- 400ml tin coconut milk
- 2 tbsp fresh mint (roughly chopped)
1. Heat the oil in a large pan, when hot add the onions and a pinch of salt, stir briefly and then place on a lid. Lower the heat to it’s minimum and leave the onions to sweat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop the onions catching on the bottom of the pan. Then add the garlic and spices and cook for a further 10 minutes, during this time slowly add the water to make a slightly thick paste.
2. Add the tomatoes and lentils and then return the lid and leave to cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add a little more water if the sauce starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Finally, add the coconut milk and mint, remove the lid and leave the curry for around 20 minutes to thicken. Check the seasoning and add any more salt, black pepper or spices if needed. When satisfied dish the curry into warm bowls and serve with rice, naan or flatbreads a green salad or I like to eat it with some fresh beans.