There's nothing like a vegetable curry with rice for starting the day off right. Yes, it makes a great breakfast or brunch as well as a supper or lunch. The advantage of making it for breakfast is that you probably have more time for cooking in the morning, if you're on the same schedule as most language teachers here. And it's a great way to warm up the kitchen in the morning. Then, when you come home late from work, there's something great to eat with just a quick heat up.
And it tastes just as good warmed up as when it's first made, maybe even better. You can put it in a plastic tub on top of rice for lunch at work. But you probably won't need to worry much about leftovers because with its nice balance of spices, inspired by a curry from Madhur Jaffrey, this one is difficult to stop munching.
English Teachers' Vegetable Curry Serves 6 (supposedly)
5 Tb vegetable oil
3/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
A 1-inch (2.5 cm) stick of cinnamon
6 whole cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
6 oz. (175 g) onions, chopped
6-7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1" ( 2.5 cm) fresh ginger, minced
pinch of hing ( if you have it)
1 lb (450 g) fresh tomatoes, finely chopped (tinned are okay)
1/8-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 & 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala powder (or to taste)
Firm tofu cubes (1 package) if desired (or chick peas, soy, or red beans, cooked )
Vegetables, cut up in chunks, a few cups. I use vegetables such as eggplant, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, sweet red and green peppers, almost anything with some firmness, and last time I used cubes of firm (the one with the seared brown top) tofu.
Coconut milk or powder-- a few big spoons, if you like it creamy. (If you eat milk you could substitute yoghurt, but in that case add it to the spice and oil mixture after it becomes brown before you add everything else.) Alternatively,if you don't mind a slightly crunch texture, you can use fine dry unsweetened coconut, such as is available from Indojin.com.
Heat the oil in a wok or large pan over a medium high flame. When hot put in the cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Stir once and then put in the onions, garlic and ginger. Stir this mixture around until the onion picks up brown specks. Add the vegetables and give it a few stirs, just to caramelize a bit. Then put in the tomatoes, salt, tofu or beans and a cup or two of water and bring to a boil. Cover and turn down the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes until the veggies are tender but not mushy, stirring a few times to prevent sticking. Take off the cover, turn up the heat to medium and add the garam masala and cook about 5 more minutes. I always add water as needed during the cooking period (to cover the vegetables) as I like a bit of sauce, and I usually use up to about a Tb. of garam masala.
I use the food processor to mince the ginger, garlic and sometimes onions 'cause it's easier. I like it with Basmati or brown rice. Don't forget to look for and pick out the whole spices.