Jaime's Food Revolution - Vegetable Jalfrezi

You may have heard a couple weeks ago that Jaime Oliver won the TED prize for his advocacy of children's health, nutrition, food knowledge with school lunches being the cornerstone of his mission. Jaime really walks the walk and has been doing great things to influence the way we cook and eat in both the UK and the US for some time now. In his book, Jaime's Food Revolution, Jaime asks you to take a pledge to learn a recipe from each chapter of the book and teach the recipes to two or more friends or family, on the condition that they do the same. I took my pledge (there it is, signed by me on page 15 of my book) and here I am to teach the recipes with some pictures and tidbits that I think might add to your experience even further. Enjoy!

I'm starting with the "Easy Curries" chapter because you know I can't pass up a good curry! I choose the Vegetable Jalfrezi - yum, yum, yum! And talk about gorgeous. Just look at all these colorful veggies. The recipe calls for a small butternut squash, which I didn't have. I did have some sweet potatoes, so that's what I used. Peeled them up, cut them into chunks and there they are at the top of the cutting board. Tidbit #1 - use what you've got as long as it's generally the same consistency.

Jaime tells you to use a large casserole-type pan which gives me the opportunity to tell you about my biggest kitchen score EVER! I got this Calphalon One Infused Anodized 8 1/2 quart Dutch Oven with a stainless steel lid on Amazon for an amazing $24.99!!! This pot lists at $210.00 and it's currently selling on Amazon for $99.00. This brings me to tidbit #2 - Amazon offers some ridiculously great deals on Calphalon from time to time in their "Calphalon Store" and it's worth checking in on regularly. If you're in the market for cookware,this is a great way to build your collection.

The recipe calls for peanut or vegetable oil. Either would be fine and since you aren't cooking at a really high heat (like you would in a stir-fry). The peanut oil does add a little flavor, so I used it. I love Spectrum Naturals because it's a good clean oil and seems that it doesn't go rancid as fast as some other oils. Once it's open I keep it in the fridge. Tidbit #3 - Never use oil that has gone rancid. Not only does it taste really bad (at least it does to me), but once it's gone off, it is loaded with free radicals that are just looking to cause some serious damage to your health. Buying smaller bottles of oil is a good way to make sure that you use it before it goes rancid

Add the onions, chile, ginger, garlic and cilantro stalks and cook for 10 minutes........Smells so good!

Add the peppers, squash (sweet potatoes in my case), drained garbanzo beans and jalfrezi curry paste. Okay...tidbit #4. Don't drive yourself crazy looking for the Jalfrezii curry paste when all you are seeing is the "cooking sauce". That's all I could find and so I used it. I figured that if I needed some extra umph, I could add a little tikka paste that I had in the fridge. But you know what? It didn't need it. The cooking sauce was just perfect.

"Add the cauliflower, the fresh and canned tomatoes and the vinegar. Fill one can with water; pour into the pan and stir again"

"Bring to a boil then turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes with the lid on. Check the curry and if it looks too liquid, leave the lid off for the rest of the cooking time." Here it is after 30 minutes of simmering away. Still looks a little loose to me, but most importantly, I wanted to check on what was happening with the sweet potatoes. If they were too soft, I would have to live with a looser curry since I didn't want them to fall apart in the sauce. They were perfect..just undercooked enough to take 15 more minutes of simmering without the lid.

"When the veggies are tender, taste and add salt and pepper - please season carefully - and a squeeze of lemon juice." Well, Jaime...wouldn't you know we have some beautiful, juicy Meyer lemons in the box this week! So here's a squeeze in the pot and pour myself a glass of water and squeeze the other half of the lemon into it for a little refresher. Wow is that good!

Here is the final result in the pot....

and in the bowl! I garnished it with some fresh tomato slices, a dollop of plain yogurt and a scattering of cilantro leaves. This would be great with a lovely basmati or as Jaime suggests, some pappadams, but for my lunch, this was really, really good. The full recipe is below, and you can find it at www.jamieoliver.com as well. Please check back to see more Food Revolution recipes ala moi ,enjoy and pass it on!

Vegetable Jalfrezi

1 medium onion
1 fresh red chilli
a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
2 cloves of garlic
a small bunch of fresh coriander
2 red peppers
1 cauliflower
3 ripe tomatoes (if you don't have fresh tomatoes, don't worry about it...they aren't missed too much since you have 2 cans of tomatoes)
1 small butternut squash (see my note)
1 15oz tin of chickpeas
peanut or vegetable oil
a knob of butter (1 tablespoon was fine)
a 283g jar of Patak's jalfrezi curry paste (see my note)
2 14oz tins of chopped tomatoes
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons (I used half of one very juicy Meyer lemon)

To prepare your curry:

Peel, halve and roughly chop your onion. Finely slice the chilli. Peel and finely slice the ginger and garlic. Pick the coriander leaves and finely chop the stalks. Halve, deseed and roughly chop the peppers. Break the green leaves off the cauliflower and discard. Break the cauliflower into florets and roughly chop the stem. Quarter the tomatoes. Carefully halve the butternut squash, then scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Slice the squash into inch-size wedges, leaving the peel on but removing any thick skin, then roughly chop into smaller pieces. Drain the chickpeas.

To cook your curry

Put a large casserole-type pan on a medium to high heat and add a couple of lugs of oil and the butter. Add the onions, chilli, ginger, garlic and coriander stalks and cook for 10 minutes, until softened and golden.

Add the peppers, butternut squash, drained chickpeas and jalfrezi curry paste. Stir well to coat everything with the paste. Add the cauliflower, the fresh and tinned tomatoes and the vinegar. Fill 1 empty tin with water, pour into the pan and stir again. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes with the lid on.

Check the curry after 30 minutes and, if it still looks too liquidy, leave the lid off for the rest of the cooking time. When the veg are tender, taste and add salt and pepper please season carefully and a squeeze of lemon juice.

To serve your curry - Delicious with Pappadams or any of my fluffy rice recipes and with a few spoonfuls of natural yogurt, a sprinkle of cilantro leaves, and a few lemon wedges for squeezing over.