Roasted coconut, lime and tamarind curry
This recipe, like the sweet potato dhal in my first book, has become an instant classic in my house. I make this a lot, and each time I make it I still can’t believe how tasty it is. The squash, fennel seeds and tamarind come together to make a vibrant curry, and the toasted maple and lime coconut is the crowning glory (and a great little treat for snacking on in its own right too). If you are in a real rush you could use pre-cooked brown rice here. I usually keep some leftover rice in the freezer, but if you search out one without any additives, the pre-cooked pouches can be a speedy solution if you are in a fix.
300g short-grain brown rice
1 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
1 red chilli
a large bunch of fresh coriander
400g butternut, kabocha or acorn squash
1 × 200g bag of spinach or other greens
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 × 400g tin of good chopped tomatoes
1 × 400g tin of coconut milk
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
50g unsweetened coconut flakes or desiccated coconut
2 unwaxed limes
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat your oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Fill and boil a kettle and get all your ingredients together. Put a big saucepan on a medium heat. Get your rice on. Weigh out the rice in a mug or measuring jug, making a note of the level it comes up to, then rinse it in cold water and put it into the pan. Fill the mug to the same level with water and add to the pan, then repeat so you have double the volume of water to rice. Add a good pinch of salt, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the red onion. Put a teaspoon of coconut oil into another large saucepan, add the onion and cook on a high heat for 5 minutes, until soft. Chop the garlic, ginger and chilli and put to one side. Peel the carrots and chop into 0.5cm rounds. Chop the coriander stalks, put the leaves to one side. Once the onion is soft, add the garlic, ginger, carrots and coriander stalks to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Cut the squash in half lengthways (there is no need to peel) and then into quarters. Remove the seeds, then cut into thin 0.5cm slices. Wash the spinach and remove any tough stalks.
Add the fennel and mustard seeds to the pan and allow to cook until the mustard seeds start popping, then add the squash, chopped tomatoes, coconut milk and tamarind paste. Put a lid on the pan and simmer on a medium-high heat for 20 minutes, until you have a thick, flavoursome curry. Top up with a little hot water from the kettle if it gets too thick. Meanwhile, line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Put the coconut flakes on the tray and grate over the zest of 1 lime. Pour over the maple syrup and put into the oven for 5 minutes, until turning golden at the edges. When the rice is ready, drain it and keep it warm. Once the curry is cooked, stir in the spinach and the coriander leaves and squeeze in the juice of both the limes. Spoon some rice into your bowls and ladle the curry over the top. Scatter the roasted coconut on top and finish with more coriander, if you like.
Image: Matt Russell