This recipe is based on one taken from the beautifully photographed A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell, slightly simplified by me. It also uses the savoury spice mix, previously blogged about. If making the savoury spice mix from scratch isn’t your thing, half a tablespoon of chinese five spice would probably do the trick well enough.
The quantities serve 2 generously.
Squash, aubergine and spinach curry
1 aubergine, chopped into 2cm cubes
1 large sweet potato, chopped into 2cm cubes
1 lemon grass stalk
1 tbsp chopped coriander stems (save and freeze them from a recipe that just needs the leaves)
3 garlic cloves
1 small red chilli
1 tbsp water
3 lime leaves (fresh or dry)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp savoury spice mix
1 x 400ml can of coconut milk (I always use full fat)
2 tbsp vegetarian fish sauce (or light soy sauce)
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1/2 tbsp soft brown sugar
250g bag of baby spinach leaves
Peel off the outer layer of the lemon grass, bruise the base with the back off a knife, then cut off and discard the top half (it is dry and unyielding). Put the lemongrass in a food processor along with the coriander root and stems, garlic, ginger, chilli, lime leaves and 1 or 2 tbsp water. Blend for about a minute to a paste.
Place a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add 3 tbsp oil and heat until almost smoking. Fry the aubergine in small batches until golden brown on all sides, then remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Place a large saucepan or cooking pot over a medium heat and add the remaining 1 tbsp oil. When it is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring from time to time, for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the aromatic paste together with the roasted spice mix and cook, stirring, for 3–4 minutes to release the flavours.
Pour in the coconut milk, then add the tamarind, soya sauce and sugar. Stir well and bring to the boil, then add the sweet potato. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the browned aubergine and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Just before serving, add the spinach to the curry and heat vigorously, stirring to collapse the spinach and release the water. Once the spinach has wilted and the water evaporated off, taste and adjust the seasoning and flavourings if necessary, perhaps adding a little more sugar or soya sauce.