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South Indian-Style Vegetable Curry

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Serves 6

  • by Ellie Krieger from Fine Cooking
    Issue 107

This easy one-pot meatless main gets its complex flavor from a combination of spices including coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and cinnamon. The spices marry in a rich, flavorful sauce that has a comforting, belly-warming appeal. 

Read Ellie Krieger's blog post to learn more about the healing power of spices and how this recipe came together.

  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (1 Tbs.)
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 cups lower-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small cauliflower, broken into 1-1/2-inch florets (about 4 cups)
  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (about 1 cup)
  • One 15-1/2-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 oz. baby spinach (about 4 lightly packed cups)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium (or medium low if necessary) and cook until the onion is richly browned, 5 to 7 minutes more. Add the garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, for 1 minute to blend the flavors. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne; stir for 30 seconds to toast the spices. Add the tomato paste and stir until well blended with the aromatics, about 1 minute.

Add the broth, coconut milk, cinnamon stick, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low or low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots. Raise the heat to medium high and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.

Stir in the chickpeas, spinach, lime juice, and zest; cook until the spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes more. Season to taste with salt. Serve garnished with the cilantro.

Serving Suggestions

This curry only needs a basic brown rice or white basmati rice to be a complete meal.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 300; Fat (g): 10; Fat Calories (kcal): 90; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 12; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Carbohydrates (g): 45; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5; Sodium (mg): 680; Cholesterol (mg): 0; Fiber (g): 12;

Photo: Scott Phillips

After trying several curry recipes, this one was the family favorite. Looking forward to enjoying this dinner many more times!

Yep, this is a success every time! Highly recommended. Thanks for a great recipe!

Really loved this! Will make it again. Took others advice and doubled all of the spices. Added some spuds and zucchini, left out the chick peas and didn't have lime so used lemon (doubled juice and zest) will add something more next time as I'd like some more sauce (I also kept the seeds etc from the toms). Agree that it's lots of prep but loved the base. Will add prawns or chicken next time (at my mums request) but more than happy with the veg alone. Shame there's not more left over for tomorrow:)

This dish was so good. I have been trying to eat more vegetarian dishes and this hit the spot. Thanks for sharing the recipe

I made this and it came out great. I doubled the seasonings and added some Jamaican peppers. Like a dummy I doubled the lime juice but it was still good. I don't think ANYONE can mess this recipe up. I threw some shrimp in there and served it over Jasmine rice (cook jasmine rice in unsweetened jasmine tea...locks in the flavor) and a fresh apple cake and cream cheese frosting.

This was such a wonderful dish. The spices were so complex, without being overpowering. Didn't need any rice as the curry stew was great on its own. Filling, Fall meal!

I'm a crap cook - but my first attempt at this didn't disappoint. Okay, I probably should've prepped everything before hand which led to a little overcooking of the veges (which kinda went to mush). But how delicious was it? (Very!) I, too, am adding this to my repertoire for my vegetarian friends!

We LOVED this. What an amazing combination of flavors and colors, plus it's light, healthy and veggie-full. My new favorite Indian recipe. I agree with another reviewer who suggests making it as it is without doubling spices, to see what you think. I wouldn't change a thing.

This is the first Indian dish I have made that my whole family loved. Indian food is our favorite cuisine so we frequent Indian restaurants but when I try to duplicate the taste at home it just isn't quite right. This South Indian vegetable curry was fantastic, better even than our favorite restaurant! I did increase the spices and added a chopped jalapeno with seeds for a little heat. I poured an entire can of light coconut milk in, I used 3 T tomato paste and increased the veggie broth because we love the sauce. We served it over fragrant Basmati rice. I will definitely be putting this recipe on the regular diner rotation!

I made this tonight and I must say it might be the most delicious thing I've ever made!! The flavors were absolutely heavenly. I substituted a dash of powdered cinnamon for the cinnamon stick. Other than that, I followed the recipe to the letter.I would be careful about doubling the spices until you have tried the original version because I thought it was perfect the way it was. I wouldn't want it any hotter or spicier. I served it over jasmine rice and it was simply delicious. The prep is time consuming but prepare everything in advance and once you begin cooking it goes up fast.Try it, you'll like it. Thanks, Ellie, for this amazing recipe!!

After reading the reviews I doubled the spices, and probably could have tripled them, according to my husband. I did have to make a couple of substitutions. I used chili powder in place of cayenne. My coriander was quite old so I left it out completely, and I used ground ginger and ground cinnamon. I used the whole can of light coconut milk because I wasn't sure what else I'd use it for, but my husband loved it. It was fairly easy to make, but advice for myself and others; next time I will have all my spices measured out ahead of time to make things run more smoothly. We served it over Basmati rice. Yum!

Very good, easy to make replacements and adjustments to ingredients.

I doubled up on the spices after tasting the broth halfway thru cooking. I also added 2 tsp of cinnamon since I didn't have a cinnamon stick on hand along with green beans and eggplant. It was delicious.

I made this as the directions said but did not use coconut milk. It tasted ok, but was a bit watery. Next time I will double the spices. Flavor was nice and smelled like an Indian resturant in the house, just not as flavorful as I would have liked. I also used a bit of flour slurry to thicken it up a bit. If you want bold flavors, double the spices except for the red pepper unless you want it hot.

I was going to wait until my Honey got home and see how he likes it, but it is WAY TOO GOOD to wonder if someone else likes it! Nicely done! PS I used Indian red pepper which is VERY SPICY! So easy does it!

Tonight, at 6pm, our neighbors invited us to their pot luck dinner at 7pm when they ran into us in the garden. It was a last minute thing because we had only 1 hour to prepare, and they are vegetarians. So I went online to look for a good recipe and was so glad to find this one. Since I had almost everything this recipe required, I decided to make it. I replaced the turmeric with a curry paste that had turmeric inside. Also omitted the ground coriander since I didn't have it; also replaced cinnamon stick with cinnamon pounder, because I didn't have. I also put some flour to make the curry a little bit thicker. The food turned out really good. I cooked a big pot but my neighbors and my husband ate most of it, only a little bit left for my lunch tomorrow. Will definitely cook this again!!!

This is my favorite vegetable curry recipe, having tried many. The spice level is just right for me (what is often called "medium" in Indian restaurants). I made it just as written, except for substituting zucchini for the tomatoes. I served it over black sticky rice for a really beautiful presentation. This is really a flavorful, delicious recipe!

Loved this. Delicious, warm and wonderful. I made a few minor adjustments due to what I had on hand or didn't have on hand. I will definitely make this again. I blogged about it on my blog, Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness with a link back to the recipe.

This is a great, warm winter dish. I used butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes. Very fragrant and filling. Not spicy-hot, but that is easily adjusted. Using whole cherry tomatoes instead of chopped adds great visual appeal, between the red tomatoes, the green spinach and the bright sauce.

My boyfriend said this was the best meal I've ever made for him and we've been a couple for five years. It was a lot of prep but not difficult to prepare. I will, definitely, have this on my winter meal rotation. Wonderful dish.

Outstanding recipe. It takes a bit of time to get all the ingredients prepped but well worth it. I got everything ready to go before I started cooking and that made cooking the dish much easier. Absolutely delicious recipe and very flexible--for example, I used an entire can of coconut milk, as did a previous reviewer. Also, you can play around with which vegetables you use and amounts. This one's a real winner!

A tasty curry though I feel it was missing a little something. Substitions/changes: Put in full (540mL) can of coconut milk and an equal can of broth; omitted tomato paste (didn't have any, probably would have added depth of flavour), and added about 2 cups of mushrooms. I'm going to try adding some brown sugar and perhaps even some fish sauce to add more complexity. I would make this again, though I'll play around with the seasonings a bit next time.

Very yummy. I didn't have sweet potatoes, so left them out. I'm sure they would have added some sweet balance to the curry, but it was good without. I had to substitute frozen spinach, which was fine. Loved the balanced curry favor. I added one pound of firm Tofu, cut into 1" squares to the curry with the chickpeas. That added a bit of protein and created a more complete meal. I think this is a great recipe to throw in what you have on hand.

If I could give it 10 stars I would! Unbelievably deep flavour, aromatic and warm. And all really good on a cold winters night or a hot summer's eve with a cold beer. A few things I did differently: added whole mustard seeds after tempering the onions - this created a 'pop' in the mouth element which was fabulous, as well as adding a whole jalapeno as well as extra ginger. I also added more coconut milk, only because I had a third of a can left and didn't want to waste it. I used only bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and tofu and none of the starch the recipe called for (didn't have it in my kitchen). I did add a little salt at the end too. Served on bulgur, with a squeeze of lime, a dollop of greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of cilantro - HEAVEN!!!

Great vegetarian recipe! Wonderful for a cold winter night. Easily doubled to feed a crowd of very happy friends! Very good as leftovers for several days.

My husband made this for dinner last night... LUCKY ME! It's 24 hours later and the whole house STILL smells DELICIOUS! We had more than enough for another nights dinner... can't wait!

Excellent, easy. My husband expected it to be hotter, but I did not having read the recipe...it was a mild but extremely flavorful spicy curry so if you want it hotter then be sure to increase the heat to your own taste. This made enough for two of us for at least 3 meals (we froze some to put away). We would not change anything, and we have a lot of experience with east asian cooking.... We will definitely make this again!

Definitely our new favourite veggie curry recipe! Next time we will likely up the spice a bit (was mild and we like a bit of heat) and maybe, maybe, add a tablespoon of brown sugar at the end to bring out the sweetness of the coconut milk.

Made this recipe months ago and I still thinking about it! Great flavors and textures. You don't miss the meat!

This is a solid recipe. I will make it again, but as someone who prefers a bolder taste, I plan to make the following adjustments: double the spices, double the spinach. Nothing wrong with this as is, but if you like a bolder flavor and aren't afraid of a little heat, you will be disappointed unless you add more spice. The spinach holds the flavor best out of any of the ingredients, so more spinach would help too.

I made this dish last night and it was absolutely delicious!! Hearty and flavorful-I will make this again.

Delicious and satisfying.

I've already made this twice! It's wonderfully flavorful and satisfying (I served it over brown basmati rice). Plain, nonfat yogurt makes a nice condiment. Now a family favorite. Yum and THANKS,

Although I'm not a vegetarian, I do love vegetables and this makes a wonderful side dish. The warmth from the spices was just right and the leftovers were delicious.

Easy to pull together once the veggies are prepped. Gave the kitchen a lovely fragrant aroma. I confess I added some shrimp sauteed with a little sweet curry powder-hubby isn't ready to go vegetarian yet. Served over a mix of brown basmati and black rice. Great leftovers the next day.

By tasting this, you'd never guess how healthy it is! This is a delicious fall recipe and a great one to play with spices and heat. The cilantro gives a great fresh finish.

Delicious vegetarian curry recipe. My 9 year old daughter usually doesn't like "spicy" food, but she loved this dish. A great recipe to double-up and freeze.

Chockful of wonderful flavors and vitamins! Very quick and easy to make - just takes some time to chop up the vegetables.

One look at this photo and I was salivating. I adapted the recipe to meet my sodium restriction - by eliminating the salt altogether, and switching to no-salt-added chickpeas - and you'd never guess the dish is salt free. Talk about FLAVOR! Wowza! Many thanks to the talented Ellie Krieger for sharing. Truly delicious.

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