So, you have finished your Sunday roast with the family and have the customary mound of veg left over. This guide will help you make it into a sumptuous ‘Dhansak style’ curry sauce.
Ideally you will have a mix of veg. Carrots, peas, parsnips, cauliflower, broccoli or whatever. I would say that you don’t want to have more than 25% of potato in the mix, but don’t be afraid to throw in a bit of stuffing!
The recipe is in three stages as I often use the Sunday roast situation to deliberately provide enough veg for batches of curry sauce for freezing. They can then form a mid week meal in less than half an hour just by either adding left-over meat or diced chicken breast or thigh.
There is no reason why you cannot do everything in one go however. The one thing I would say (because I hate stringy meat in a curry) is to not add pre-cooked chicken or turkey too early. You really only need to get it warmed through otherwise it will just turn into stringy mush. So personally, I would still use the method below and add the meat at the end.
Stage 1 – The Vegetables
Throw all of your leftover veg into a saucepan that is large enough not to be more than about 2/3 full. Give the contents a shake so the surface is as level as possible.
You now need some fluid, which I tend to vary depending on the type of meat I’ll be using in the finished curry. For red meats, I use a combination of canned tomatoes and water. For poultry or pork, I would use a combination of milk/coconut milk and water.
The quantity of fluid should just reach the surface of your veg and I typically use a 50/50 split of water and whatever the other ingredient is going to be. Don’t worry if it ends up too thick – it’s easier to let something down with a bit of water than it is to thicken it!
Once the fluid is in, pop the pan on a medium heat. If your veg was a bit ‘al dente’ let the mixture simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until everything has softened. Otherwise just let it get up to a temperature where the fluid (especially coconut milk) is evenly distributed.
Once this is done, take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes. Then take a stick blender (or you can use a food processor) and blend the veg and fluid together until smooth. Set aside to cool.
At this stage (and adding a bit of seasoning) you will have a perfectly formed soup but that is not our overall aim!
Stage 2 – Vegetable Gloop to Curry Sauce Conversion
The amounts of the following ingredients are a guide. I don’t know how much veg you normally have leftover but this is what works in our house! Reduce or increase accordingly but try and keep the same ratio of spices.
- Vegetable oil (enough to liberally cover the base of your wok/frying pan)
- 2 or 3 onions, cut in half then sliced
- 3 or 4 Garlic cloves – chopped
- Ground Cumin – 1 tablespoon
- Ground Coriander – 2 teaspoons
- Ground Turmeric – 1/2 teaspoon
- Ground Ginger – 1 teaspoon
- Paprika – 1 teaspoon
- Chilli – I prefer flakes but powder is fine. A starting point is half a teaspoon but adjust according to your pree
- 2 Bay leaves
- 4 Cardamom pods (bruised or just the seeds if you don’t like that hit of flavour)
- Garam Masala – 2 teaspoons
- Salt and pepper to taste
You will either need a wok with a lid, or you can transfer from a work/frying pan to a saucepan with a lid
Fry the onions on a medium/high heat, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown. Turn down the heat and add the garlic, stirring more often so it does not catch. Add all the spices EXCEPT THE GARAM MASALA to the onions and stir so that the spices coat the onion and begin to release their flavours. It’s important to keep the mixture moving as you do not want to burn the spices. If things are looking a bit to dry or sticking to the pan, don’t be afraid to add a bit more oil.
If you have to transfer to another pot – do so now!
Increase the heat to medium and add your vegetable gloop and bay leaves stirring well to evenly distribute the onion/spice mix. Simmer the mixture for at least half an hour (preferably more) on a low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally.
This is a very important stage as it’s quite surprising how much a curry’s flavour (and it’s heat level) can change in this time.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stage 3 – Add The Meat!
Your curry sauce is now (almost) complete and can either be left to cool for freezer portioning or, you can carry on and add your meat of choice (taking note of my stringy comment above).
If you are using fresh meat, I would suggest lightly frying the meat first to seal before adding to the sauce. Cubed chicken will require approx 30 minutes of light simmering to cook through. Raw beef or lamb will take significantly longer to cook until tender. I would suggest at least an hour and a half.
For pre-cooked ‘leftover’ meat, you really only need to warm it through.
If you are vegetarian, the sauce is equally as good with mushrooms, Quorn pieces or cubes of squash.
Add the Garam Masala at the end, about five or ten minutes before serving. This spice mix is already roasted an requires no cooking, just a quick stir to distribute through the sauce.
And below, the finished result. Made completely out of the leftovers from a Christmas Turkey roast, with the addition of a few green peppers that were close to their usefulness. Gorgeous!