Warm, spicy, filling comfort food. That’s what I was going for with this curry. Traditionally curries are more liquid and less solid, but I decided to flip the balance in favour of vegetables in my version. The result is filling enough to eat alone, but you can have it with rice like any other curry. I had mine with freekeh.
Freekeh is wheat grains which have been harvested early (so it is still yellow-green) and burnt to remove the chaff, and when cooked it looks like greenish brown rice. This fibre rich food popular in Middle Eastern cuisine is high in calcium, protein and iron, and some gluten-intolerant people are even able to tolerate it. It comes either whole or split (the split grains cook faster). I was so lucky to come across it in Exclusive Stores in Abuja. The beautiful thing about freekeh is that it has a lovely taste on its own, sort of a nutty flavour. So it brings an interesting element to your food unlike white rice which is just a blank canvas. I can’t wait to try it in salads and stir-fries! If you are able to get your hands on it, you should definitely try it out.
It should take about an hour to make this, much less if the vegetables are prepped ahead of time or if you use the frozen kind that are already diced. 90% of the cooking time was spent chopping, slicing and dicing. Otherwise it’s a really easy recipe where you just add things to the pot in the right order.
What You Will Need
This makes a big pot of 10-12 servings
+ 4 large carrots, diced
+ 1 small cabbage, diced
+ 2 handfuls green beans, chopped
+ 3 spring onions, chopped
+ 1 cup peas
+ 1 full bulb of local garlic, chopped (use half if you have the larger imported variety)
+ 1 large white onion, diced
+ 3 green bell peppers, diced
+ 3 red bell peppers, diced
+ 5 large mushrooms (whichever variety you prefer; I used shiitake which has quite a strong flavour because I love them but you might be better served with chestnut mushrooms which are milder)
+ 2 cans full fat coconut milk (or 2 1/2 cups)
+ vegetable oil (coconut, olive, sunflower…whatever you have handy is fine here)
+ spices: curry, turmeric, cumin, ginger, black pepper, paprika, salt
+ 1 cup split freekeh
How To Make It
For the curry:
1. Toss the onions and garlic in 4 tbsp vegetable oil for 5 mins, then add half the coconut milk and 3 tbsp curry,
2. Add the green beans and let simmer covered for 3 mins.
3. Add the carrots, peas and mushrooms and let simmer for another 3 mins.
4. Add the cabbage, spring onions (save a handful for garnishing later), bell peppers and the rest of the coconut milk. If the liquid is insufficient, add a bit of water.
5. Add the rest of the spices: 1 tsp cumin, 1 tbsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp black pepper and salt to taste. Stir well and adjust the spice quantities to your taste. Cover and let simmer until the cabbage is tender but still crunchy. And your coconut curry is done!
For the freekeh:
Rinse the freekeh in a fine mesh sieve and boil 1 cup freekeh in 2 cups of water until grains are soft and chewy. No need to parboil and rinse. Fluff with a fork when done.
Tip: When serving, drizzle some virgin coconut oil over the curry and toss some spring onions over the freekeh. It really makes a difference!