Vegan Kurma with cashew cream and coconut

Usher cooler weather in with this velvety and creamy Kurma with coconut milk and cashew cream. Darling of South Indian vegetarian thalis, it’s served alongside little bits of greens, lentils, rice, roti and a little something sweet to make up a wholesome and more than satisfying feast. My version is vegan and doesn’t use the usual poppy seeds as it’s rich enough as it is. Saying that, Kurma is quite different from the North Indian Korma, which has poppy seeds and yoghurt rather than coconut milk. There’s no rushing this recipe although I have been known to empty a bag of frozen chopped vegetables into the curry.

Feeds 4:

  • Handful of raw cashewnuts/2tbsp cashew butter
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 4-6 curry leaves
  • 1 large onion, peeled
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Half tsp turmeric
  • Half tsp chilli
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp fennel powder
  • Half tsp turmeric powder
  • Half tsp chilli powder
  • 250gm carrots (2 large), cut into batons
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into batons
  • 1 x 400ml can coconut milk (75% coconut)
  • 100gm beans , topped, tailed and
  • 1 small cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 2 handfuls of peas
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander to serve

Soak the cashewnuts in quarter cup of water. If you’re using cashew butter, stir two tablespoons of hot water through it. Puree with a dash of water or finely grate the onion, ginger and garlic to make a smooth paste.

Bring the oil to heat on high in a work or sauté pan. When it’s hot, toss in the curry leaves and as they sizzle up stir through the onion paste. Cook this for 15-20 minutes until the paste takes on colour. If the paste gets stuck on the bottom of the pan, add a dash of hot water and scrape it off.

Now, add the tomato puree and all the spice powders expect the garam masala. Mix well for two minutes to incorporate well and then stir through the carrots and potatoes and half a cup of hot water.

Then pour in the coconut milk and cook on medium high heat stirring regularly for 15 minutes. Add the beans and cauliflower and cook for another 8-10 minutes until cooked, and then toss in the peas.

While the peas cook, blend the cashewnuts and water if using to make a cashew cream. Stir this or the smooth cashew butter through the kurma, along with the garam masala to finish. As the oil seeps to the surface of the curry, turn the heat off. Check and add salt to your taste. Serve hot with rice or rotis with chopped fresh coriander.

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