A staple from the student days.
You will need chopped onions and similar volumes of chopped up carrots, sliced courgettes, and maybe some mangetout, baby corn, etc.
In a large pot, fry the veg in a small amount of oil, with a sprinking of salt, until the onions are soft and translucent, and the courgettes and carrots are showing a bit of colour. Whilst that’s happening, get some hot stock ready: enough liquid to cover the veg. Decant the fried veg into a large bowl, and reduce the heat, so you can build up the spice paste without burning it.
Into the pot in this order…
- some more oil; not too much
- put as much chilli as you dare and some cloves, fry for about a minute
- add as much chopped up garlic as you like, fry for another minute, stirring
- ground cumin, turmeric, ground cinnamon, stirring – the powdered spices will soak up the oil, and everything will form into a sticky paste – make sure this doesn’t burn, so only fry for about thirty seconds
- then add the stock, and scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan
Now, some drained tinned chickpeas, and some tinned chopped tomatoes, with about half the juices strained off. Return the veg to the pot as well.
Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat immediately to a minimum and allow to simmer quietly for about half an hour.
Serve with couscous.
I didn’t mention any quantities above, as it will vary according to personal taste. Today’s effort, however, was produced with:
- two medium onions
- one large carrot
- four tiny courgettes
- a pint of vegetable stock (Marigold Boullion)
- a teaspoon of chilli
- six cloves
- four fat cloves of garlic
- a teaspoon of cumin
- half a teaspoon of turmeric
- half a teaspoon of cinnamon
- a 450g tin of chickpeas
- a 450g tin of chopped toms
You can vary this to taste, but the essential ingredients are the spice paste and the chickpeas.
- make up the spice paste in advance, and marinate some chopped up lamb in it overnight, taking care that the meat gets vigorously fried on the outside, but then gently simmered
- similar thing with roughly cubed aubergine (no need for overnight marination, just a couple of hours)
- use double the amount of stock, and then blitz the whole lot darned lot with a hand-held blender to make soup