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Curry at the speed of light (...cheap too)

Sitting in a drab Cambridge bedsit in his early twenties, my Dad made a covenant with himself and ditched the corned beef diet in favour of recreating his childhood favourites. Big fat tomatoes, the juicy kind which he’d often gobble as a piece of fruit in Karachi weren’t as readily available at the International Store. So he improvised with a tin of chopped tomatoes combined them with exotic Spanish onions a basket of potatoes and threw in a friendly dose of spices to remind him of what his body missed so much. The result, a salivating piece of culinary minimalism, potato curry with peas and tomatoes, some of the cheapest ingredients money can buy.

potato curry

The trick with this vegetarian curry recipe is to keep it simple, it’s a quick, tasty dish which comes to life with the bouquet of the whole spices. Chop the onions into cubes and fry until translucent in a lidded frying pan. Pitch in the panch puran and coat the onion chunks. Add the peeled potatoes, slip in the sliced chillies, a little salt and tip in the water. The pan will sizzle and throw up a blissful scent of the spice mix. Turn the heat down, put the lid on and let the spuds cook until they’re 90% done. Check by piercing a fork into a potato piece, it should slide in easily without breaking apart. Pop in the tomatoes, turn the heat up and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the edges of the potatoes blur. Stir regularly but allow the tomatoes to retain a rough chunky texture, add a little water if it becomes too dry and starts to stick. Dress this vegetarian recipe with fresh coriander leaves.


Serves 4 as a side dish or as a main with naan bread.

  • 3 medium size onions, chopped
  • 1.5lb of red waxy potatoes, chopped into bite sized chunks
  • 2/3 green chillies
  • 1 can of tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tsp panch puran (5 spice) – cumin, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek, kalonji (nigella) seeds
  • 3tbs corn oil
  • 4fl oz water
  • Salt
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves

Panch Puran

This is a heady 5 spice mix of pan fried whole spice which is recklessly bashed into a fine powder and then added to deliver an intensity to curry recipes especially veggie ones.

  • Cumin seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Fennel seeds
  • Fenugreek
  • Kalonji (Nigella) seeds

Heat a frying pan on medium and throw in all the ingredients gently move them around until they brown and start to perfume the pan. Take them off the heat and let them cool, then pop them in a mortar and beat them with a pestle until transformed into a light fluffy mound of aromatic bliss.

A recipe from 'Old Spice', curry memoirs from the Urban Rajah.

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This is lush, have emailed to a “veggie” friend who says it’s amazing

By Tracy Beckham on July 23, 2011












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