We here in the Finger Lakes are so blessed to live at the source of so many things that we consume on a daily basis; things that greatly improve our quality of life, such as farm fresh responsibly grown produce and a plethora of excellent wines.
In the summer, when all of those delicious vegetables find their way into our baskets at the market, one cannot help but be in awe. The variety, the colors, the shapes, the sizes! It’s a veritable artists palette. And when I can’t decide which summer vegetable in particular is calling out to me, I like to cook with them all. Besides tossing them together in a giant and delicious salad, I like to make light soups, sometimes a vegetable tart, but at this particular moment I was in the mood for something spicy and fragrant! Grilling the vegetables and then coating them with a bright curry sauce felt like the right thing to do!
I went with a yellow curry here but a red or green curry would be equally delicious, whatever your favorite is! I love to eat curry with poppadoms which are Indian lentil crackers. They make the perfect scoop for getting a balanced bite of sauce, rice and veggies. I find them at Wegmans in the Indian foods aisle but I’m sure you could find them at most Asian food stores. They start out looking like a dense fragile disk but after a quick fry in oil they turn into a puffy, light as a feather cracker!
Grilled Summer Vegetable Curry with Cilantro-Cumin Rice and Poppadoms
Serves 4 with leftovers
For the Grilled Vegetables:
- 2 zucchini
- 2 summer squash
- 1 large farm fresh heirloom tomato
- 2 red chiles, split in half lengthwise and seeded
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed
- 2 spring onions
- salt, pepper, olive oil
- juice of one lime
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
For the Curry Sauce:
- 1/4 cup good yellow curry powder, I use Laxmi brand
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1.5 inch piece fresh ginger root, minced
- 1 12 oz can full-fat coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt to taste
For the Cilantro-Cumin Rice:
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
- juice of half of a lime
For the Poppadoms:
- 2-3 poppadoms per person
- 1/4 cup canola oil
Preheat your grill. Alternatively, you could roast the vegetables in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.
Prepare a light dressing for when the vegetables come off of the grill by whisking together the lime juice, rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt.
Slice the zucchini, summer squash, tomato and spring onions in half lengthwise. Arrange on a plate with the halved chiles and drizzle all of the vegetables with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
Grill the vegetables 4-5 minutes per side until they are nice and soft and have deep grill marks. Return to the plate and immediately dress with the lime dressing. Set aside until cool enough to handle. When the veggies have cooled, dice them into half inch pieces and mince the chiles finely.
In the meantime, cook your rice. In a small pot over a medium flame, add the cumin seeds and a small amount of olive oil and allow them to toast, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Then, place the cup of rice, the vegetable stock, bay leaf, cilantro, lime juice, pinch of salt and the tablespoon of butter (or olive oil) to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Don’t be tempted to take the lid off until its done! Fish out the bay leaf and discard.
To start the curry sauce, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger to the oil and lightly fry for 2-3 minutes until softened and fragrant. Add the curry powder to the skillet and toast lightly in the oil for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in the coconut milk and stir to combine with the toasted curry powder. Add the diced grilled vegetables along with any juices that have collected on the plate and the spinach leaves to the sauce. Push the spinach leaves down into the sauce so that they begin to wilt. Bring sauce to a simmer and continue cooking for 5-8 minutes.
While the curry sauce bubbles away and the flavors are marrying, heat up the three tablespoons of canola oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When hot, drop in a poppadom and watch it puff up instantly! They only need about 15 seconds per side to puff up and turn golden brown. These cook so quickly!! Remove them to a paper towel lined plate until the rest of the meal is ready.
To finish off this lovely curry, fluff the cooked rice with a fork and divide evenly between plates. Ladle the curry sauce over the rice and garnish with some fresh minced cilantro and a lime wedge. Break off a big piece of a poppadom and use it as a scoop to get all that deliciousness into your mouth! Make sure you pour yourself a big glass of wine to balance the heat and share with someone you love! Cheers!