Vegetable Curry Improv

by Min Merrell
how to make vegetable curry

Experimenting with a Vegetable Curry Improv is a great way to use up all your Indian spices. 

An Indian supermarket is a fascinating and astounding place. Take those big bags of whole spices like cumin seeds and cardamom pods, for example. It’s like the Costco of Indian seasonings. Whenever I pick one up all I can think about is how can one possibly put all that to use before it loses its punch? I come from the small supermarket spice jar set that ends up, years later, tossing out what’s left of the little-used spice. Not anymore! (To help with this, be sure to have a kitchen Sharpie for dating all your spice jars.)

A quick, one-pot vegetable curry, once you’ve made a couple, will become an intuitive, recipe-free regular meal in every season. Start by cooking the spices in some hot oil for a minute or two to release their flavors. After that, it’s a matter of chopping up a few vegetables and opening a couple of cans. Dump, stir and cook, that’s curry. And it is as open to improvisation as you are able to find things to contribute to the pot.  

Change up the vegetables by adding whatever is seasonal or in your crisper drawer.  Be sure to add the quick-cooking tender vegetables like spinach, peas or zucchini near the end of cooking. The coconut milk is optional.  Use water as the only liquid or add vegetable or chicken broth.  Simmer with chunks of chicken.  If you want to add lamb, add chunks of lamb stew meat and simmer with the onions and liquid until almost tender before adding the vegetables.   

Indian Spices to Keep on Hand

Whole cardamom pods, black and green

Whole cumin seed

Whole mustard seed

Ground Tamarind 

Dried chile flakes

Whole Coriander


Curry leaves

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