The Humble Curry on a Budget

Who doesn’t love a good curry? It’s easy, tasty and it fits every mood; happy, excited, sad, or hungover (I do express more beyond these primitive emotions – but you get the point). I have yet to encounter someone that doesn’t love some type of curry. Right now, in Madrid, it probably seems too hot for a curry, but I never shy away from some spice no matter the weather.

When I go to an Indian restaurant I gawk at the extensive menus but nearly always settle for a lamb vindaloo (can never handle that much spice) or a buttered chicken (it’s clearly difficult for me to spare meat when it comes to Indian) or a nice Chana masala if I’m being good.

But when I’m at home, I keep it simple, loose and vegetarian. It’s usually my free for all, whatever-vegetables-we-have-will-do kind of dish. It’s cheap and perfectly adaptable.

I’ve often been told I make a good curry; and even more, so that it’s the only thing that I cook (well). This usually comes from groups of friends who have been subjected to my varying curries on more than one occasion, but always because it’s the easiest, cheapest option to feed hungry people that you invited over out of love and flimsiness, rather than a grandiose expression of wealth.

You can feed many, or just one, and you can adapt it for whatever preference, allergy or lifestyle you’re dealing with. If everyone is happy to go home feeling full, a little sickly and sleepy, then it’s the ultimate crowd pleaser.

All you need is the basics, you can fry your vegetables first or you can simply just throw it all into boil, if you prefer that healthier alternative.

Time Needed – If you got no time to waste, 30-40 minutes, if you have time, let it slow cook on a low heat for an hour or two.

Serves – this portion is designed for 2 with leftovers, but you can make more or less by adding or removing the amount of vegetables.

Ingredients:

1.5 cups of Rice – Approx. 30 cent

1 x can of Coconut Milk – these can be a little pricy, up to €3 in some of the shops here. But they do give it a lovely taste and consistency. I usually just buy a cartoon of drinkable coconut milk, you can get these from between €1-2 and you can use the leftovers for general milk substitutes (it’s surprisingly good in tea!)

1 x cup of Stock (enough to cover your vegetables after the milk is gone in, you don’t want it too watery!)

Some Garlic, crushed.

1 x Large Sweet Potato – around €1

Half or a full Onion, sliced thinly – 30 cent

100g of Mushrooms, sliced – around 50 cent

A small block of Tofu, cubed – I buy a pack of two for €2 in Lidl, so €1 for one.

1x Courgette, sliced and quartered – Approx 40 cent for a normal sized one.

Some Spring Onion (if you like it), chopped – Less than 50 cent for the amount needed.

Curry Spice (I use Lidls) – 50 cent for a bottle, but you will only need a few tablespoons.

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Paprika (if you fancy it!)

Some lemon or lime juice, or even some mango if you have it, to give it  a bit of sweetness or zest.

Quiona is good to have to add in when simmering, it thickens it up, if you like me, don’t have cornflour.

Method:

  1. Prepare all your vegetables as stated above.
  2. Put some oil into the pan (I try to use coconut but whatever you have will do)
  3. Fry garlic and onion
  4. Add a bit of the curry powder while they fry.
  5. Add in the rest of vegetables, a little more curry powder and fry for a few minutes, stirring regularly.
  6. Add in coconut milk first and enough stock to cover vegetables (I usually make my stock quite concentrated and use mostly coconut milk
  7. Add in Chillis, some more curry powder and paprika (or whatever curry-esk spices you have!) squeeze in lemon/lime juice. (Add quinoa here if you want to)
  8. Simmer with the lid on until sweet potato is soft, or simmer on low heat for about an hour. Add in tofu and some spring onion about 5 to 10 minutes before finishing.
  9. Cook Rice while curry simmers.
  10. Serve with rice and spring onion on top!

Total Cost:  For me, this whole dish would be about €5, but if you have to buy some of the spices, then you might be looking at €7 but at least you will have them for again!

This recipe could literally be substituted with any vegetables, all you really need to make a curry good is to have some stock, coconut milk, and some spice. I know a lot of recipes have tiny pinches off tones of ingredients, but I find that tedious and expensive so I keep it overly simple.

If you don’t have coconut milk/stock then throw in a tin of tomatoes, it’s your time to experiment, trial and error are how you discover good recipes.

Sometimes I use chickpeas instead of tofu, or cashews instead of sweet potato, and sometimes I add Spinach.

Other times if I’m lazy, I simply fry up some onions with mushrooms and curry spice, and when they’re nearly cooked I add in a jar of mashed chickpeas and some spinach and it tastes delicious!

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So don’t be deterred from curry because of fancy ingredients or complicated recipes, you can still make it on a budget, and in quick allotment of time!

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