Easy Vegetable Curry (slow-cooker and stove top variations)
This easy (vegan) vegetable curry is full of flavor and texture, is super nourishing, and comes together with very little effort. One that’ll make it onto your regular rotation.
Maybe I’m feeling a little bit nostalgic and missing my amazing sister because this is yet another recipe inspiration from her. I’m telling you, she’s the best cook I know and I am constantly inspired by her. I can’t even remember when this happened, but years ago I was at her house for dinner (I was there pretty much every weekend when I was in college, doing laundry at her house and eating all of her food like the immature, not-grateful-enough little sister that I was), and she made this insane veg-packed curry. Like most curries, it wasn’t necessarily the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, but I took one bite and I was at a loss for words. It was everything I loved in a curry. Creamy and subtly sweet, spicy, complex, tons of varying textures, just enough acid, and so. much. flavor. I was especially obsessed with the cauliflower. I had no idea it could be so good.
I immediately asked for the recipe. And though I’ve never been able to make it quite as well as she does, and I’ve made some tiny changes, it’s become a staple in our home. It’s extremely versatile, you can play around with the veg as much as you want because let’s be serious, what vegetable wouldn’t be better after soaking in those spices and coconut milk? But I recommend trying it with my favorite trio before venturing out to others because they’re insanely good together.
Ok so the cool thing about this recipe is that years later, as I’ve been learning more about nutrition and overall health, I’ve discovered that this curry is healing. Garam Masala, my favorite curry powder blend, is full of warming spices, which help your body to digest food properly and heal your gut. And paired with properly soaked brown turmeric rice, it’s a particularly nourishing dish.
Like most things, making your own is better than store bought. So I’m going to show you how. And toasting or blooming the spices before adding them to the pot (especially if you’re cooking in a slow cooker) really enhances their flavor, so don’t skip that step. Of course you can use a store bought curry powder, but if you have the time, try making your own.
I’ve also adapted this recipe for a slow cooker for convenience.
- 3 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons green cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken up into little pieces
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, optional
- 1 tablespoon dried turmeric optional*
- Combine all spices into the bowl of a coffee grinder or the pitcher of a high speed blender and blend until finely ground. Seal in an airtight container for storage. Toast in a dry pan until fragrant just before using to release oils and enhance flavor.
- *if you have fresh turmeric, grate it directly into the pot when cooking and omit from the spice blend.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (extra virgin and cold-pressed is best)
- 2 large onions, sliced thinly
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons garam masala or other curry powder
- 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes or 3/4 lb fresh tomatoes, diced and peeled if desired
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium globe eggplant or 2~3 Japanese eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 lb snap beans, trimmed of tips and cut in half
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas, optional*
- 1 can of coconut milk**
- fine sea salt
- Cilantro, optional
- toasted unsweetened coconut, optional
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot (or a large skillet if using the slow cooker), heat the oil over medium heat until melted. Add the onions and cook until softened and golden brown. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 15~30 seconds. Add the spices and cook until the onions are well-coated and very fragrant.
- Once the spices are fragrant, add the tomatoes and cook until broken down slightly and pulpy. 5~10 minutes with canned, 15~20 minutes with fresh. Add the chopped vegetables, sprinkle with about 1.5 teaspoons salt, and toss to coat in spice mixture. Add the lid and let simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, tossing occasionally. Once the vegetables are tender and have decreased in size significantly, remove the lid and add the coconut milk and chickpeas, if using. Stir to combine, season with salt to taste, and let simmer for another 5~10 minutes.
- Once the spices are fragrant, Add the content of the skillet into the crock of a large (6 or 7 quart capacity) slow cooker. Add the tomatoes and vegetables and toss to coat. Add the lid and cook on high for 4~6 hours, tossing occasionally until the vegetables are tender and broken down. Remove lid and stir in coconut milk and chickpeas, if using. Season to taste with salt. Let simmer for an additional 15~20 minutes with the lid off.
- Serve with rice and/or naan, toasted coconut, and cilantro.
- *For a paleo-friendly version, omit the chickpeas.
- **don't use cream of coconut or light coconut milk. And try to find one with BPA-free lining and without preservatives.
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