“Jai Ho” means “Victory to you.”  When a girl who’s whiter than a mayo and Wonder Bread sandwich manages to pull off a successful Indian dinner party, I consider that girl victorious indeed.

Indian plate

Vegetable Curry

I made this concurrently with the chicken tikka masala, so before I put the heat to anything, I assembled my mise en place so I could work quickly.  Here you have a whole crapload of diced onions, grated ginger, minced garlic, and diced serrano peppers – approximately 2/3 of what’s pictured was for this dish.  Additionally, there’s a head of cauliflower broken down into florets, and two largeish red potatoes with a roughly half-inch dice on them.

Mise en place

Incidentally, I wear contacts, which has its advantages (I’m basically bulletproof when it comes to chopping onions) and its disadvantages (without them I’m pretty much a mole rat, and also OW OW TOUCHING OF THE PEPPERS AND THEN THE EYES).   I had to be careful about touching the serranos, especially since I took out the seeds and ribs and was therefore actively wrangling the bulk of the capsaicin.

My boy Alton Brown would have me keep a set of latex gloves in the kitchen expressly for this purpose, but, well… not to put too fine a point on it, AB, but screw that.  Think about what would happen if I brought a guy home on a date and he saw an industrial-sized box of latex gloves in my kitchen.  He’d either be freaked out, which is bad, or excited, which is worse.  No, I’ve got a less elegant but considerably more efficient solution:

No peppers in my eyes

Yep, that’s the grocery bag.  Thank me later!

One more thing by way of preparation: take your crappy grocery-store spices and make them magical by toasting them over medium-high heat for a minute or two, until you can smell them.  Keep them moving or they’ll burn.  This is a teaspoon and a half of garam masala and two tablespoons of sweet/mild curry powder.

Blooming spices

In a large stew pot or Dutch oven, heat up 3 Tablespoons of oil and then sautée the onions and potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are golden and translucent.

Stewin'

Clear the center of the pan and add the garlic, ginger, chiles, and about a Tablespoon of tomato paste.

Vegetable curry

Give that a minute or three, then add the cauliflower florets and toasted spices.

Vegetable curry 2

Cook and keep it moving until the spices coat the florets, another couple of minutes.  Once that’s achieved, dump in a can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained), a can of diced tomatoes that’s been puréed in a food processor, and 1 3/4 cup of water.

Vegetable curry 3

Bring it to a boil, then cover, drop the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Vegetable curry 4

If you are me, you can then turn the heat off and leave it covered while you frantically clean your apartment in anticipation of arriving guests.  If you are more organized than I, you can simply proceed to the next step: stir in 8 oz of frozen peas and 1/4 cup of cream (or coconut milk, as long as you don’t mind that coconut is of the devil).

Vegetable curry 5

Taste and adjust the seasonings, and you’re set to go.  I decided it needed a little… something, and ended up squirting in a glob of Sriracha, which is probably a cultural and culinary abomination on a number of levels, but you know what?  It tasted really good.  This curry works as a main dish even for non-vegetarians, incidentally – it’s certainly robust enough to do main-dish heavy lifting, and the veggies all balance each other nicely.

Serve over basmati rice with an assortment of condiments (I went with Vidalia onion relish and cilantro chutney), and of course naan.

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