I know you’ve all been waiting for a complicated recipe that takes a few hours and a lot of ingredients. Ha. But really, if you’re like me, sometimes you’re not looking for a quick-and-easy dinner. Sometimes you want to get in the zone and cook like you mean it. When that happens, you’ll want this recipe. Give yourself about three hours here to get everything done. Your efforts will be well worth it – I’ve never had anyone taste this dish and not rave, vegetarian or not.
Navaratna Korma means nine-jewel curry and it lives up to its name. The “jewels” in this north Indian curry are vegetables: tomatoes, onions, potatoes, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, peas, cilantro, ginger, garlic, and green chili peppers. Wait, that’s eleven…I never know whether to count the ginger, garlic and green chilis. But you can’t have too many veggies, can you?
2 large onions
2-3 cloves garlic
1-inch piece fresh ginger
2 fresh green chili peppers
2-3 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
dash of asafoetida powder (optional)
5 large tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste (optional, use if tomatoes need a flavor boost)
1 tbsp salt
2-3 tbsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups cut green beans
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
3 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Soak one cup of cashews for 3 hours or overnight. Puree in a food processor with just enough water to make a smooth cream. Cashew cream freezes well, so make some extra for later if you’d like.
Set your oven to broil and cut paneer into bite-sized cubes. On a non-stick baking sheet brushed with ghee, arrange the paneer cubes in a single layer. Broil until one side is brown, then flip over to brown the other side. Broiling happens very quickly and the time required can vary pretty widely by oven, so watch carefully. Alternately, you can brown the paneer cubes in a skillet on the stove with enough ghee to coat them.
Chop the onion and puree in a food processor with the garlic, ginger, and green chili peppers. Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat and add cumin and asafoetida (if using). Let fry for just a few seconds, then add onion-garlic-ginger-chili puree. Stir occasionally until the mixture becomes a thick paste, about fifteen minutes.
Puree the tomatoes and tomato paste (if using) with the salt, garam masala and turmeric. Add tomato puree to pot, reduce heat, and let simmer for about twenty minutes until thickened. Add paneer and continue to simmer.
Cook each vegetable separately in boiling salted water until just tender. You can use the same water each time by removing the cooked ones with a slotted spoon and adding them to the curry. Bonus: you end up with some really good vegetable stock here; freeze it for later use.
After all of the vegetables have been added, stir cashew puree and cream into the curry. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or any flat bread (Chapati, naan, pita bread, poori, etc.)
Makes about 10 servings. Pack it for lunch and be the envy of your co-workers.
Variation: You can make this vegan with a few small changes. Omit cream and ghee, and substitute 14 oz cubed and pan-fried extra-firm tofu for the paneer. It’s really good – I’m not even vegan, but sometimes I make it this way myself.