I've a friend who has certain food allergies. Not many, but there are some key foods that are a certain no that seem to be commonplace in a lot of food that I cook.
One of them is the tomato. He has to be the only person I know that can't eat this fruit which is evident in everything from soups to casseroles. So one evening during the World Cup it was a challenge to invent something I had never attempted before; a tomatoless curry.
I've a great recipe which uses yoghurt as the main base for the sauce but even that uses tomato paste to colour and flavour. Thinking along the same lines, the curry I ended up with uses a rich paste of onion, garlic, chilli and ginger, lots of Indian spice and tamarind pulp, a sweet and sour fruit available in good Asian stores and one heavily used in Keralan food in south India.
The verdict? For something so simple and easy to make, it was delicious; hot, pungent, spicy and slightly sweet, the tomato wasn't missed one bit and it completely took me by surprise, becoming one of the best curries I've ever made. Try it this weekend, it will put smiles on faces, even ones with certain food allergies.
Tomatoless Beef and Squash Curry
2 onions, peeled
1 thumb size of ginger, peeled
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 red chilli, deseeded
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
2 bay leaves
600g stewing beef cut into large chunks
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced thin
200ml tamarind water (use concentrated tamarind paste)
Salt and pepper
1 - Pre-heat the oven to 160C/GM3. Put the onions, ginger, garlic and chilli into a blender. Blend to a course paste.
2 - Heat up the oil in a flame-proof casserole dish. Add the paste and cook for 5-10 minutes until it begins to colour. Stir in the spices and cook for a further minute.
3 - Stir in the beef and thoroughly combine with the spiced paste. Cook for 5 minutes until the beef browns.
4 - Add the tamarind water. Stir and then stir in more water to just cover. Bring to the boil then place into the oven and cook for 2 hours. Check on the hour to ensure it isn't cooking dry. Add the squash on the hour. The finished product should have a light gravy rather than be watery. Continue to cook if it is too watery.
4 - Remove the bay leaves and taste for seasoning. Serve with plain boiled basmati rice, fresh mint and Indian breads.