Keralan coconut curry

Keralan coconut curry

Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast
Emma Lee

This is a typical Keralan curry, lighter in flavour and fresher than a North Indian curry, and quicker to make because of it. This is a great base sauce to which you can add many different vegetables: try aubergines, okra, spinach, broccoli, peas, mushrooms, chickpeas, green beans and pumpkin or squash. If you like fruity curries, some pineapple, peppers and peanuts would also be lovely (you will need to use less tamarind and perhaps add a pinch of sugar). Here I have used sweet potatoes, chickpeas and seasonal greens. Serve with rice, naan or parathas.

For the vegetables (see recipe introduction for other options)


Quantity Ingredient
400g sweet potatoes, peeled, in 3 cm chunks
100g greens or spinach, washed and shredded
400g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

For the curry

Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
3-5 green chillies, whole but pierced with the tip of a knife
25g root ginger, finely chopped, (peeled weight)
5 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
salt, to taste
1/2-2/3 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3/4-1 teaspoon ground cumin
400ml creamy coconut milk
1/2-3/4 teaspoon tamarind paste, dissolved in a little hot water, to taste
3/4 teaspoon garam masala, or to taste
knob coconut cream
lots freshly ground pepper


  1. Put the sweet potatoes on to boil and cook until just done; it should take around 10 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan and add the mustard seeds. Once the popping diminishes, add the onion and green chillies and sauté for two to three minutes or until just softening, then add the ginger and garlic; sauté these gently for one minute. Add the tomatoes, salt, turmeric and ground coriander and cumin and keep sautéing for four to five minutes. Now taste; it should seem harmonious and the tomatoes should be soft but still retain their form.
  3. Add the coconut milk and a splash of water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for five to seven minutes. At this point I take out the chillies as I might mistake them for spinach and inadvertently bite into one but, if you aren’t using green vegetables, leave them in. Add the greens and cook for a few minutes, then add the drained sweet potatoes, the chickpeas, most of the tamarind, the garam masala and coconut cream. Taste, adjust the seasoning, adding more tamarind to taste, and serve.
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