Vivek Singh's killer vegetable curry

Vivek Singh's killer vegetable curry

Gajjar mutter tamatar sabzi

A Lot on Her Plate
Helen Cathcart

One of the most incredible work trips I ever did was travelling across Rajasthan on the inaugural voyage of the Maharajas Express, billed as India’s version of the Orient Express, but not worlds away from Wes Anderson’s Darjeeling Ltd. Leading the trip and guiding us through all the amazing food we ate was London chef and restaurateur chef Vivek Singh, who has since become a friend. There is very little this man doesn’t know about spices or Indian cuisine, and he has been kind enough to share this recipe for his failsafe vegetable curry, which is cooked in almost every household in northern India (it’s generally considered too humble to put on restaurant menus). What I love about this dish is the way it takes prosaic ingredients and elevates them with clever spicing into something very special.


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
1 bay leaf
4 green cardamom pods
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 white onions, finely chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, blended to a purée
2.5 cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 green chillies, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons salt
4 carrots, cut into 1 cm dice
200g garden peas
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan, then add the bay leaf, cardamom pods and cumin seeds. Once they start to crackle, add the chopped onions and cook over a medium-high heat until golden brown. Stir in the puréed tomatoes, ginger, green chillies, spices and salt and cook for 8–10 minutes, until the oil begins to separate from the mixture at the edge of the pan. Add the carrots and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then add the peas and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in 250 ml water and cook till the vegetables are tender but still retain a little bite. Check the seasoning, then stir in the lemon juice and sprinkle with the chopped coriander. Serve hot with chapattis or naan bread.

Tip from Vivek:

  • If you cut the carrots into smaller 5 mm dice, and cook the mixture without adding any water, then it can be used as a topping for canapés or as a filling for wraps. Papdi – wheat crisps, available in Indian supermarkets – topped with this vegetable curry make a good canapé.
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