Alice Water’s Vegetable Curry

If you are an avid reader of food magazines and blogs then you might have come across quite a few articles in the last week or two about the 40th anniversary of Chez Panisse, a restaurant in California founded by Alice Waters.  Chez Panisse is quite high up on my list of restaurants I would like to dine at one day but in the meantime I really enjoy reading and cooking from books by Alice Waters, David Tanis and David Lebovitz.

The Edible Schoolyard is a project that Alice Waters launched in a school in California in 1995 and the concept has been replicated in other schools, including my kids school!  Alice Waters is inspirational.  I read this article that describes Alice as ‘the Glinda of the family table and sustainable locally-grown cuisine’.  The writer called in Alice Waters to come and ‘Chez Panisse’ her fridge, her pantry, her kids lunch boxes and their family meals.  It sounded delicious – carrot soup, roast pork with white beans and rosemary, creamed spinach and plum upside-down cake.  But my favourite little snippet of advice given from Alice Waters…

“The microwave?” she said. “I’d get rid of it.” Microwaves are her spiritual opposite, symbols of speed and soullessness.


Anyway, to celebrate an anniversary for a restaurant I’ve never been to, I got my kids busy in the kitchen making a Vegetable Curry from The Edible Schoolyard Project (be sure to check out that link as the drawings are delightful.)

This was a brilliant family rainy day activity.  The kids measured out the spices for the curry powder then toasted them in a pan.  I helped with the grinding in the mortar and pestle as it was a bit time consuming but the kids kept busy peeling and cutting vegetables.

The kids’ knife skills are fairly good but I still hover nervously when Tilly is cutting and dicing.  She is left handed and I am still not used to it.

The kids followed the recipe down to the last detail and it results in a very, very mild curry but it was such a hit with the kids.  I don’t know if it was because they all contributed to cooking dinner or not but they loved it.  Plus we have leftover curry spice mix to make another curry or two.

vegetable curry

(from the Edible Schoolyard Project)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons curry spice mix
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
6 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup of cooked chickpeas
2 cups (1 can) coconut milk
4 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch of greens, washed, de-stemmed and chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the onion and spice mix.  Saute for a few minutes until onion is soft.  Add the carrots, potatoes, chickpeas and coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer then add the vegetable stock.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the greens and season to taste.  Serve with steamed basmati rice.

curry spice mix

2 tablespoons coriander seeds
8 cardamon pods
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons ground turmeric

In a dry pan, toast the coriander seeds, cardamon pods, mustard seeds, peppercorns and cumin seeds for about a minute.  Grind in a mortar and pestle with the chilli flakes and turmeric. Makes approximately 1/2 cup.

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