It’s turned proper cold this week – suddenly it feels like winter. And the good winter, with mornings decorated with frosty patterns, air so chilly it makes your nose tingle and clear blue skies with lots of sunshine. That’s something I think we’ve all been craving after the last few grey and rainy months!
This is the time of year that I crave greens as well as the sun. Packed full of supportive, healthful nutrients, winter greens are an awesome source of seasonal goodness. And what green veg is more synonymous with a British winter than Brussel sprouts? They’re not just for Christmas you know! These little green balls are a nutritional power house – here’s an old blog post that will tell you more.
A few years ago my husband returned from a night out in London raving about the sprout curry he had just eaten at an Indian restaurant near his office. I have to say I was a little disbelieving about this and blamed his enthusiasm on the amount of beer that had also been consumed. But his raving continued so I was persuaded to experiment – and he was right (and yes that’s hard to admit!).
I discovered that Brussel sprouts really do work well in a curry! As long as they are not cooked to death, keeping them whole provides a great texture. Plus, if you or the people you’re cooking for are not keen on the slightly sulphurous flavour it’s covered by the spices.
I’ve made a couple of different types of sprout curry now, but this is by far my favourite. I used a masala mix bought from a fabulous shop in Steyning, West Sussex – Sakala. It’s run by a lovely lady called Helen Hitchcock who imports gorgeous Indian clothing, jewellery and house hold products directly from the people who make them. The profits are then used to help fund a small NGO, Helping Elsewhere, that works with educational projects in Goa and other states in India and Nepal. Cool, huh?
As well as the shop, Helen has a room used as a community space that holds yoga classes, concerts and other meetings. We went along to their ‘Sakala Secret Supper Club’ and had a gorgeous three course vegan Indian meal. And this is where I discovered this gorgeous masala mix, imported directly from the family who make it.
Masala is another word for spice mix. The most common ones we tend to hear about in the UK is garum masala and tikka masala. But there can be all sorts – in fact, most Indian families make up their own mixes using different combinations of spices picked out from their masala dabba, a container that holds a selection of spices. This is different to the curry powder we tend to find on the supermarket shelf as the flavour combinations are huge, whereas curry powder tends to be heavy on the turmeric, cumin and heat rather than depth of flavour.
Garum masala for example is made up of combination of ground coriander, cumin, cardamom and cloves mixed with black pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Not a chilli in sight! In contrast, the masala we bought from Sakala is bright red and has a deep, dynamic flavour – perfect for Brussel sprouts! But what if you don’t have this specific masala mix? Well, you could be brave and make your own, adding in a selection of spices you might have in your cupboard. Alternatively, include some red chilli powder whilst cooking the curry sauce and add some garum masala near the end. You should get a sprout masala that will tickle your taste-buds and satisfy your cells.
If you want to know more about Sakala, you can find them on Steyning High Street or check out their Facebook page here. And if you make this recipe, do let me know how you get on.
- 1 medium onion peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 medium green chilli deseeded and roughly chopped
- 1 cm piece fresh ginger peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 fat clove of garlic peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh coriander stems and leaves separated
- 400 grams Brussel sprouts
- 400 gram tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 heaped teaspon masala mix or
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder and 1 teaspoon garum masala
- salt and pepper
- 75 grams cashew nuts ** soaked in hot water and drained
- 100 ml water
- Place the onion, chilli, ginger, garlic and coriander stems into a small blender pot with a couple of tablespoons of water and blitz until chopped into a rough paste.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the bottom of a medium-sized saucepan and add the paste. Sauté on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time so the mix doesn't stick on the bottom of the pan.
- Prepare the Brussel sprouts by trimming the end and removing any marked or rough outside leaves. Chop huge ones in half otherwise leave whole.
- Once the onion mix has started to soften, add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and the masala mix or chilli powder. Stir well to combine then simmer for 10 minutes until the aromas start to change (the chilli will start off smelling a bit harsh then start to mellow).
- Tip the Brussel sprouts to the pan and stir well (include the garum masala at this point if using). Add a little water to ensure the sauce covers the sprouts. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat right down and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sprouts are cooked.
- Whilst the sauce is bubbling away, pop the soaked cashew nuts and water into a high speed blender jug and blitz until smooth to make a cashew cream.
- Pour the cashew cream into the pan and simmer for a few more minutes.
- Garnish with the reserved fresh coriander leaves and serve with steamed brown rice or whole-wheat chapatti on the side.