Vegetables cooked in a creamy sauce flavoured with aromatic spices. This authentic Dairy-free and Paleo recipe is made with coconut yoghurt and cashew nuts.
Korma is a mildly-spiced curry, in which chopped vegetables or meats are braised in a sauce thickened by yoghurt or cream. Too often this results in a bland sauce that has little flavour beyond the cloying taste of dairy. But it doesn’t need to be this way – yes, a korma does not typically pack much in the way of heat, but you should expect your tastebuds to be warmed instead by an harmonious array of aromatic spices.
You can add whatever vegetables you fancy to this versatile sauce. In fact, it is a great way of using up odds and ends. However, if you do decide to freestyle, then you need to be mindful of the fact that firmer vegetables like potato take longer to cook than watery vegetables like courgette. So if you add them to the pot at the same time, then the courgette will be mushy and over-cooked by the time the potato is ready. Instead, add the vegetables at different times, putting firmer vegetables that take longer to cook into the pot first to get a head start. Alternatively, you can pre-cook the vegetables separately in a steamer, and just stir them into the sauce at the end. This is a fool-proof way of ensuring that all the vegetables are perfectly cooked (and is quicker to boot), although it does entail more pans on the stove and more washing up. Whichever method you choose, make sure that you chop the vegetables into consistently-sized pieces, for even cooking.
- faster-cooking vegetables (~5 minutes): green beans, courgettes, mushrooms, spinach
- medium-cooking vegetables (~20 minutes): aubergine, bell peppers, brocolli
- slower-cooking vegetables (~30 minutes): carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, potatoes, squash
Tips & Tricks
- Soak the cashew nuts – this softens and saturates the nuts so that they blend to a creamy texture. Do not soak for more than 16 hours, as they start to develop a sour taste
- Fry the curry paste – this releases the flavour compounds, allowing the essential oils from the spices to dissolve into the cooking oil (they are not water soluble)
- Add liquid once the oil starts to separate – this means that all the moisture has evaporated, so the spices will quickly start to burn
- Cover for most of the cooking time – this traps steam to help the vegetables cook, and stops the liquid from evaporating before they have finished cooking
for the paste:
- 1/2 cup (75g) cashew nuts
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 onion (130g), peeled and quartered
- thumb-sized piece of root ginger (20g), peeled
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tablespoons (40g) tomato puree
- 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
- 5 tablespoons (75ml) olive oil / neutral-tasting oil
for the curry:
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
- 1 onion (130g), peeled and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- 120g coconut yoghurt (replace with 120ml more water if you cannot find)
- 2 medium sweet potatoes (600g), peeled and chopped into bite-size chunks
- 1 head of cauliflower (500g), core removed and chopped into bite-size florets
- 100g green beans, ends trimmed and chopped in half widthways
- a handful of flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat, until lightly browned
- Make the curry paste. You can make the paste ahead, as it will keep for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. To store, spoon into a jam jar, press down to eliminate air bubbles, and then pour over a layer of neutral-tasting oil.
- Cover the cashew nuts in warm water and leave to soak for at least 45 minutes, and no more than 16 hours.
- Break open the cardamom pods by crushing with the broad side of a heavy knife. Shake out the seeds and discard the husks.
- Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the whole spices (cardamom seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns) and dry fry for 1 – 2 minutes, or until they release a fragrant aroma. Tip into a spice grinder and grind until finely ground (if you do not have a spice grinder, then use a pestle and mortar or the small bowl of a food processor). Set aside.
- Once the cashew nuts have soaked for 45 minutes, drain and tip into the small bowl of a food processor. Blitz until smooth. If the mixture needs loosening, add a bit of the oil. Add the aromatics (onion, ginger, garlic and tomato puree), and blitz again until smooth. Tip in the toasted spices, the ground spices (turmeric, garam masala, salt and chilli powder), and the oil. Blitz to a smooth paste.
- Fry the onion & paste. Heat the cooking oil in a heavy-based casserole / deep-sided saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and salt and cook until the onion is lightly brown, stirring occasionally – about 8 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low. Scrape in the curry paste and stir until blended. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the water if it is dry and sticking to the bottom. Cook until the oil starts to separate – about 3-5 minutes (it is important not to rush this stage, as it develops flavour and stops the spices from tasting raw).
- Cook the vegetables. Add the water and yoghurt (if using) and stir until blended. Turn the heat up until the sauce begins to simmer, then add the sweet potato and cauliflower. Give the whole lot a good stir, then cover with a lid and cook for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are fork tender but still retaining their shape (the exact cooking time will depend on the size of the chopped vegetables). Stir every 5 minutes to stop the sauce from sticking to the bottom, being careful not to break up the vegetables.
- Add the green beans and cook until mostly tender but retaining a bit of crunch – about 5 minutes.
- Transfer into a serving dish and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.