This very simple curry made with frozen mixed vegetables is typical of food from Kolhapur, Maharashtra, in that it is very hot and spicy. I serve this with parathas.
Normally spices are toasted over a high heat to activate their natural oils and make them aromatic. Here and in other recipes that contain desiccated coconut I’ve specified to use a low heat. Always stir constantly and watch closely so coconut does not burn.
Serves 4 as a sharing dish
2 tbsps vegetable oil
2 tbsps onion paste
1 tsp garlic paste
250 g frozen mixed vegetables
2 heaped tbsps Greek-style yogurt
350 ml water
For the Kolhapuri spice powder:
2 large dried red chillies
1 cinnamon stick
A small blade of mace
4 tbsps desiccated coconut
1 tbsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp black cumin seeds, or use ordinary
¼ tsp black peppercorns
First make the spice powder. Put the dried chillies into the dry non-stick pan over a low heat. Add the cloves, cinnamon, mace, coconut, coriander and black cumin seeds and peppercorns, and stir until they are aromatic and the coconut is lightly toasted. Watch closely so the chillies and coconut do not burn before the spices are toasted. Tip the mixture into the spice grinder and grind until a fine powder forms. Set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil over a medium-high heat in the sauté pan. Add the onion paste and garlic paste and stir them into the oil for 30 seconds. Add the spice powder and stir for a further 30 seconds. Watch closely so the spices do not burn.
Add the frozen vegetables, season with salt and continue stirring until the vegetables start to thaw. Stir in the yogurt, then add the water, stirring to incorporate all the ingredients. Leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8–10 minutes until the gravy thickens slightly. The gravy will be quite thin at first, but it thickens as it simmers because the coconut in the spice powder absorbs the liquid. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary.
Chef Atul Kochhar's time-saving tip: The key to having a delicious curry on the table in 30 minutes or less is having a supply of onion paste in the fridge or freezer. It gives you all the wonderful onion flavour without having to spend the time peeling, chopping and then cooking the onion. I always have this in the fridge.