Warm spices for a cold day
A winter curry using local vegetables is a great way to warm up during the chills of the season. Use your favorite root vegetables, and lots of exotic spices.

Warm spices for a cold day

A curry is a perfect way to use a beautiful rainbow of produce grown in our county

BELLOWS FALLS — The snow is piling up, and we need something to warm us up! The gardens are buried, most of the farm stands are closed, but we can still serve up delightful meals with the bulk of the ingredients sourced locally.

On a recent Saturday, I surveyed the results of my hunter-gathering efforts at Harlow's winter market in Westminster, Allen Bros. Farm Stand, and the Brattleboro Food Co-op, and I discovered that I had compiled a beautiful rainbow of produce grown in our county. Yes, they were primarily root vegetables and greens, but pretty they were.

So many possibilities! A soup, perhaps, or a stew? Maybe a casserole.

It was a cold day, so I decided on a flavorful curry and all the accompaniments. A curry has lots of warm spices that are also anti-inflammatory - a great boost for the metabolism in the winter.

From my freezer, I retrieved a pint of cherry tomatoes from my own garden, local chopped red peppers from last summer, and ginger from Walker Farm in Dummerston.

I tucked several of these large rhizomes in the freezer last fall; frozen ginger grates easier than fresh, so when you find a good source, freezing is a great option. Just grate what you need, and put the rest back in the freezer.

The only ingredients in this curry that are not local are the exotic spices, chick peas, and coconut milk, but I wouldn't be surprised if some enterprising Vermont farmer soon figures out how to grow palm trees!

The vegetables here are suggestions. If you like golden beets or sweet potatoes, add those; if you don't like turnips, substitute something. Cauliflower is also lovely in this recipe.

If you can't find good cherry tomatoes, or haven't tucked any away in your own freezer, you can easily substitute canned, diced tomatoes.

Use what you like and can find - just try to use vegetables of many colors of the rainbow to please the eye as well as the body.

This recipe makes a large batch. Make some for this week, and put some into the freezer! You can also halve the recipe.

Vermont vegetable curry

Make this as hot or mild as you like by adjusting the pepper and cayenne.

In a large, heavy-bottom pot, heat:

¶2 Tbsp. olive oil

Once hot, add:

¶1 large purple or yellow onion, sliced

Cook for 5 minutes or so until the onions soften and start to brown, then add:

¶3 cloves of garlic, minced

¶1 Serrano pepper, minced

¶2 Tbsp. finely minced ginger

¶1 tsp. ground turmeric

¶1 tsp. sweet paprika

¶2 tsp. garam masala (recipe follows)

¶1 tsp. anise or fennel seeds

¶{1/2} tsp. cayenne pepper

Stir the mixture for a minute or so, until the spices bloom and fill your kitchen with tantalizing aromas.

Try to chop into similar size:

¶2 cups rutabaga, chopped

¶2 cups purple- or yellow-fleshed potatoes, chopped

¶1 cup carrots or parsnips, sliced into coins

¶2 cups daikon radish or spicy turnip, chopped

Add your vegetables. Stir everything together well.

Let cook for a few minutes, then add:

¶1 cup water

¶1 pint of cherry tomatoes, fresh or frozen

¶{1/2} cup chopped sweet pepper, fresh or frozen

Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Gently stir in:

¶1 can organic, unsweetened coconut milk

¶1 can chick peas, no salt added, drained

Simmer on lowest heat for another 15 minutes, and check seasoning, adding salt and pepper if desired.

When done, top with:

¶The juice of one lime

¶Chopped cilantro or parsley

Serve with jasmine or basmati rice, or naan bread if you can find it. Traditionally, a cooling cucumber raita (recipe follows) is often served on the side, especially if you make the curry hot.



¶1 large English cucumber

Place in a colander and sprinkle with:

¶1 tsp. salt

Let mixture sit for 15 minutes, then rinse and squeeze the water out. Place in a large bowl and add:

¶1 cup plain Greek yogurt

¶2 Tbsp. fresh mint, minced

¶2 Tbsp. fresh parsley or cilantro, minced

¶2 scallions, minced

¶{1/2} tsp. garam masala (recipe follows)

¶{1/2} tsp. salt

Mix everything together. To serve, top with a little sweet paprika and more chopped herbs.

Garam masala

This spice blend is easily found at local markets and co-ops. If you want to blend your own to have on hand, buy the spices in bulk and combine:

¶2 tsp. ground coriander

¶2 tsp. ground cumin

¶2 tsp. ground cardamom

¶2 tsp. ground black pepper

¶1 tsp. ground fennel

¶{1/2} tsp. ground nutmeg

¶{1/4} tsp. cloves

Store in a tightly sealed container out of direct light.

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