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Mum’s vegetable kurma

Here in the UK, pretty much any “Balti”, “Tandoori” or “Indian” restaurant will feature a “Korma”. My general reactions to this word are (a) spelt wrong (b) wrong colour (c) tastes nothing like I remember it (if I decide to try it) (d) not coming back here again.

The kurma (right spelling) I do remember is my mother’s one and she often made it with chappati (unleavened whole wheat flat bread). As a child I remember not liking it very much – there was some flavour/spice in the dish I didn’t like.  It was only when mum gave me the recipe for kurma did I realise what it was – aniseed/fennel seeds. It is the same reason I don’t like Sambuca or liquorice. Yucky aniseed! There are always ways about things you don’t like – my solution here has been to use the smallest amount of fennel seeds I could get away with. And this time, I did like my mum’s kurma.

The recipe falls in the category of  “Over-the-phone” recipe which is more accurately an “over-SKYPE” recipe these days. The way it goes is this.

Me: Hi mum, I was thinking of Dish-blah that you used to make and wanted to make it.

Mum: Oh that – easy peasy (when you have made it for more than 30 years, sure)

Me: So, how do I make it ?

Mum: Chillies, coconuts, 10 more ingredients ………Got it ?

Me: Sure.

Mum: Do you want to write it down ?

Me: No, it’s all in my head

Growing up, mum always said to me that no one taught her how to cook. She just watched and learned. When it comes to recipes, I’ve never seen a single one written down by either my grandma or my mum. It is something that is communicated by word of mouth and remembered purely by repetition. So it is some sort of false pride deep inside me that says that if gran and mum can remember recipes, so can I. I try my best but in some cases, I have to resort to the neatly typed up recipes on my laptop. More recently of course, I have this blog to jog my memory. Enough blah,blah and now for the recipe.

Mum’s vegetable kurma


For the spice paste:

1 cup of dessicated coconut (if you have fresh coconut, even better)

1/2 cup of cashew-nuts

3 green chillies

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved

80gms of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped into cubes

1 teaspoon of fennel seeds (if you like the taste of aniseed, add 1 more teaspoon to the mix)

A handful of fresh coriander leaves

2 teaspoons of white poppy seeds (also called khus-khus. I used roasted, ground poppy seeds instead of whole)

For the kurma:

2 medium sized potatoes, cut into 1cm cubes

3 medium carrots, cut into 1cm cubes

125 gms of green beans, chopped into 1cm long bits

2 small tomatoes, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 cup of natural (unsweetened) Greek style yoghurt

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

salt to suit your taste



1. Place all the chopped vegetables in a large pot, cover with water, add a pinch of salt and boil until vegetables are cooked.

2. Add all the ingredients for the spice paste into a blender and grind them into a smooth paste. Use water if it is too thick.

3. In a pan/wok, heat the oil and add onions to it.

4. Sauté the onions until they are golden brown and then add tomatoes to the pan/wok.

5. As the tomatoes turn soft, add the spice paste and mix well.

6. Cook the spice paste until the raw smell of coconut and garlic no longer lingers.

7. Add the cooked vegetables, including the water in which they were cooked and stir well.

8. Let the mixture bubble and thicken for 5-8 minutes.

9. Add salt to suit your taste and the yoghurt to the kurma and mix well. Turn the heat source off to prevent the yoghurt from curdling.

10. Serve while hot with chappatis or a simple pulao.



1. If you are a vegan, then don’t add the yoghurt at the end. Alternatively, add soy yoghurt.



kurma = coo + r + mah

chappati = chup+pa+thee



Mum’s vegetable kurma
1-3. Chop potatoes, carrots and beans into 1cm cubes, cover with water and boil until soft. 4-6. Add all the ingredients for the kurma mix to a blender, add ½ cup of water and blend into a smooth paste 7. Chop onions and tomatoes and sauté them until they start to sweat. 8. Add the kurma mix to the wok and stir until the raw smell of the paste no longer lingers. 9. Add the boiled vegetables to the kurma including the water in which they were boiled. Cook until thickened and turn the heat source off.

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