Today is a special day and I wanted to mark it by preparing a favorite dish. So I made this vegetable korma. This is a dish bejeweled with fresh vegetables enveloped by a creamy and delicately spiced sauce. I just finished cooking it and an exotic smell is gently wafting in my kitchen. Ahhh. Vegetable korma tastes wonderful with fresh buttered naan or simple cooked basmati rice and is a great vegan option for a week night meal.
If you frequent Indian restaurants, you might see this dish on the menu. It is commonly called Navratan Korma. Navratan means nine gems in Hindi. When you see this dish, it does look like there are jewels sticking out of the sauce. The ‘jewels’ are usually a combination of vegetables, dry fruits and nuts. The restaurant version also has a lot of cream and butter which contribute to the richness.
My version of the korma is less fatty and is also vegan. Once you make this at home, I promise you will visit the restaurant only to buy naan. To eat with your home made korma, of course!
A korma is an onion and tomato based sauce that is thickened using nuts or seeds, and enriched with a creamy component. The most commonly used nut for a korma is cashew nut. If you are allergic to nuts, you can use freshly ground white poppy seeds to thicken the korma. The creamy component can be coconut milk, yogurt, or cream. The sauce is quite versatile. Once you have the basic sauce, you can add vegetables to it to make it vegetable korma; or add some precooked and cubed chicken to it to make a chicken korma. Either way this is a super gratifying recipe to make because you can’t go wrong with it.
In today’s recipe, I used some cauliflower florets, carrots, potatoes, green beans and frozen green peas because this is what I had on hand. Feel free to use other vegetables like sweet potatoes, soy beans, green peppers, chayote squash, etc as well. You want vegetables that will not get mushy upon cooking. A zucchini is not a good candidate here. Vegetable korma is a great way to use up leftover vegetables.
I’ve used whole spices to make my own garam masala. I usually stock up on whole spices from my local organic store and grind my fresh garam masala when I need it.
An important step in making a tasty korma sauce is to ensure that the onions have caramelized nice and slow. Caramelized onions have a subtle sweetness that goes a long way in adding flavor to the dish.
VEGETABLE KORMA Serves: 6 Cooking time: 45 min Ingredients: 3 cups diced/cut mixed vegetables (any combination of carrots, cauliflower, green beans, green peas, shelled soy beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes) ½ cup water ½ teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil 1 large onion finely diced, about 1½ cups ½ teaspoon sugar, optional ½ teaspoon salt 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, canned or fresh 1 tablespoon chopped ginger 1 tablespoon chopped garlic 1/3 cup raw cashew nuts (use 2 tbsps powdered white poppy seeds for a nut free version) 1/2 cup coconut milk + 1/2 cup water 2 tbsps kasoori methi or dry fenugreek leaves For the Garam Masala ½ teaspoon cumin seeds ½ teaspoon fennel seeds 1 tablespoon coriander seeds 2 cardamom pods 2 cloves A small stick of cinnamon 1/2 tsp red chilli powder 1/2 tsp turmeric powder Method: In a wide bottomed pan, add the mixed vegetables, ½ cup water and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover with a lid and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are just fork tender. Take care not to overcook the vegetables. In another heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil over a medium flame and add the onions to it. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp sugar. Cook for about 10 minutes or so, until the onions are caramelized. While the onions are cooking, grind the garam masala spices in a coffee grinder to a fine powder. Set aside. Once the onions are caramelized, add diced tomatoes, along with the chopped ginger, garlic, and cashew nuts. Stir regularly to ensure even cooking. Add the spice mixture. Stir to lightly toast the spices. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup coconut milk. Remove from heat. Let cool and add the mixture into a blender. Blend to a smooth sauce. The sauce should be of the consistency of a good spaghetti sauce – not too thick nor too thin. This will ensure that the sauce will adhere to rice or bread that will accompany the korma. Pour the mixture back into the pan and add the cooked vegetables in, along with any vegetable cooking liquid that is left over in the pan. Fold in the kasoori methi or dry fenugreek leaves. Taste and adjust for salt or any other seasonings. Add extra water if you need to adjust the consistency of the sauce. Simmer for 5 more minutes until all the flavors are blended. Serve hot with rice or naan.