Curry: a spice and a food

In India, meatless dishes are widespread, so their food makes a great base for vegan meals if you leave out the eggs and milk. At Hungry Pumpkin we also love Asian spices, so you probably won’t be surprised that we decided to make a delicious curry for today’s lunch.

Curry is a name shared by a large group of diverse dishes, which are varied both in the foods they make and the spices they use. However, what all curries have in common is that they are flavoured with a blend of spices and are liquidy, either as a sauce or an independent dish. Every region in India (and even every location and every family!) has its own unique way of preparing curry.

The term “curry” comes from the Tamil word “kuri,” which means a sauce seasoned with curry leaves (Murraya koenigii). In other parts of the world and even elsewhere in India, this spice is seldom used. The most common spices in curry are turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, and chili, though each cook has their own recipe. Curry sauces can be either meat- or vegetable-based, or a mixture of the two. There are no limits on the vegetables, with it being possible to use only one kind or many kinds! The common ingredient, however, is coconut water, coconut milk, or coconut cream.

Coconut water is a clear to slightly white liquid that is naturally found inside coconuts. It contains up to 3% sugar and almost no fat (0.2%). Coconut milk, on the other hand, is white and is a liquid obtained from grating the coconut pulp to create coconut flour and contains 5-10% fat. The grated pulp is soaked in hot water and thoroughly mixed and then undissolved pieces are removed. If this milk is left to stand for a while, then a layer of coconut cream containing about 25% fat collects on the top. It is also worth mentioning coconut oil, which is obtained from coconut cream or directly from coconut flour and is 100% fat. At temperatures above 24 degrees it is a liquid, but when colder it forms a greasy solid. This oil contains mainly saturated fatty acids, which make it very temperature stable and suitable for frying. On the other hand, the high content of saturated fatty acids makes it less healthy than some other alternatives. Saturated fatty acids are characteristic of animal fats, which have long been known to cause increases in blood cholesterol and thus increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated coconut fats differ from animal fats in that they are in shorter chains (12 carbon atoms as opposed to 18 in animal fats). Until more research is done and it is clarified how good or bad these shorter chain saturated fats are for us, it is best to not consume too much of them.

Our lunch today began with a creamy soup followed by a rich curry with a mix of vegetables and rice. Let’s get down to the yummy parts!


Recipe, preparation, and cost of the meal

 

Quantity

(g or ml)

Price for 4 person (EUR)

Soup

Olive oil

12

0,07

Carrots

100

0,12

Potato

80

0,08

Buckwheat

100

0,48

Garlic

4

0,02

Salt

4

0,00

Main dish

Coconut oil

14

0,22

Coconut flour

40

0,24

Eggplant

300

0,69

Paprika

350

1,18

Broccoli

350

0,69

Onion

100

0,08

Garlic

5

0,03

Salt

3

0,00

Side dish

Rice

200

0,32

Together

4,23

 

Our soup was made by pan frying our vegetables in hot oil before adding a bit of salt and other seasoning and then water. We allowed this to boil away for a bit and then visited it with our wonderful stick mixer to make it a creamy consistency. We then added buckwheat and allowed the soup to cook for 10 minutes.

For the curry, we began with the coconut milk. We used finely grated coconut pulp, which can be bought in stores under the name “coconut flour” (though it is not a true powdered flour). We poured this pulp into boiling water (about 200 ml of water for every 40 g of coconut) and mixed it together with our mixer. This could have been even better if mixed up in a blender like a smoothie, but unfortunately we do not have one of these in our kitchen. Though the mixture needs to be sifted to make “true” coconut milk, we just added it with all the pieces into the curry. If this all sounds like too much work for you, you can also buy cans of condensed coconut milk from the foreign food section of most grocery stores, or from speciality Asian supermarkets. Make sure to recycle them!

We cooked up our vegetables in coconut oil, first adding onion, then eggplant, then broccoli, then pepper. Though you could use a different type of oil to cook up your vegetables, the taste may not go as well in the dish as if you use coconut oil. Experimenters be warned! Once everything is softened a bit, we added our coconut milk to make a nice, creamy sauce.

Another unique aspect of curries is that spices can be added at different times in the cooking to give different effects. They can be added at the beginning of cooking, sometime in the middle, or at the end. This will affect the taste of the finished dish. For this one you will really need to experiment to see what you like best! For us, we decided to add the garlic and chili directly into the coconut oil stage with the vegetables, then later adding the turmeric and cumin once we had the coconut milk added in. This also helps prevent the spices from burning in the oil, which would give you a very not curry-like (and very not pleasant) taste.

The price for this lunch for 4 people came out to 4.23€, which is just over 1€ per person. The largest expense was the peppers as they are not in season. If we replaced the peppers with equal amounts of additional broccoli or eggplant, the price would drop half a euro and we would still have a very nutritious meal.


Nutritional value

With lunch consumed quantity

% From daily needs

Energy

500,1

kcal

25

Proteins

12,0

g

21,4

Total fats

14,6

g

33,3

Carbohydrates

85,4

g

 

Starch

61,9

g

 

Sugar

7,3

g

 

Fibers

12,5

g

50,1

Calcium (Ca)

95,1

mg

9,5

Iron (Fe)

4,6

mg

46,4

Magnesium (Mg)

125,8

mg

31,5

Phosphorus (P)

275,4

mg

39,3

Potassium (K)

1016,0

mg

50,8

Sodium (Na)

737,3

mg

134,1

Zinc (Zn)

2,2

mg

21,7

Copper (Cu)

0,6

mg

65,3

Manganese (Mn)

1,8

mg

78,1

Selenium (Se)

14,7

µg

29,4

Vitamin A

245,4

µg

24,5

Vitamin E

2,1

mg

13,7

Vitamin D

0,0

µg

0

Vitamin C

248,4

mg

248,4

Thiamin (B1)

0,5

mg

39,1

Riboflavin (B2)

0,3

mg

18,9

Niacin (B3)

5,7

mg

39,5

Pantothenic acid (B5)

2,1

mg

34,4

Vitamin B6

0,7

mg

47,9

Folic acid (B9)

234,0

µg

58,5

Vitamin B12

0,0

µg

0

Vitamin K

99,3

µg

141,8

 

With today’s lunch, we consumed 25% of the daily caloric needs for an average adult. Even though we had no legumes in the meal today, we still managed to consume 21% of our requirements for protein. This is short of our goal for the meal, so other meals in the day would need to include more protein to account for this. That being said, tofu could also be used in this dish for an extra hit of protein, and it would absorb the flavours from the curry in a wonderful way! The rice contributed most of the protein (3.25 g per person), followed by buckwheat (2.9 g), and broccoli (2.4 g). We also consumed lots of fibre in today’s meal (as much as 50% of our daily needs!) as well as getting lots of iron, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals. We fell a bit short on calcium, but this can be added to the diet during the course of the day from other foods. Our meal was also rich in vitamins, for example having 248% of our daily need for vitamin C! As usual, the meal did not contain vitamins D or B12, as these are not found in unfortified plant-based foods. You will notice that the percentages of daily carbohydrate and starch requirements are not listed; this is because individual differences in need are great and depend on other nutrients consumed.

If you have any questions about today’s meal or would like to suggest something for a future meal then send us a message at hungry.pumpkin.blog@gmail.com and we will get back to you!

Have a great week!

The Hungry Pumpkin Team

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