South Indian vegetable curry with coconut

When I met my now husband he said he “wasn’t really into food”. Considering how high food is on my list of life priorities, it is nothing short of a miracle that we made it to a second date.

My beloved has thankfully since developed an enthusiasm for exploring many different cuisines. They say that compromise is key to a successful partnership, so in the 10 years we’ve been together I have tried to develop my culinary skills to extend to Indian dishes… with varied results.

I admit that the delicate complexity of spice blending is not my forte. This dish is the result of much experimentation and persistence on my part, and patience on the part of my husband. You’re welcome, Mr Black!


• Ghee or coconut oil for frying

• 500g cooked vegetable pieces (e.g. potato, sweet potato, beans, eggplant, zucchini)

• 1 tbsp cumin seeds

• 1 tbsp black mustard seeds

• 2 tsp garam masala

• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

• 1 inch piece ginger, chopped

• 1 onion, finely diced

• 15 fresh curry leaves

• Dried red chilli flakes, to taste

• 1 tbsp tomato paste

• 400ml coconut milk

• Dash of fish sauce, to taste


1. Heat a good glug of oil in a large saucepan or wok until shimmering.

2. Add the cumin seeds and black mustard seeds.

3. When the seeds start to pop, lower the heat slightly and add the curry leaves and chilli flakes.

4. When the curry leaves are crisp, add the ginger and garlic and salt. Stir well.

5. Tip in the onion and cook gently for about five minutes, until softened.

6. Stir in the tomato purée, garam masala and coconut milk. (Don’t worry if the oil separates – this is meant to happen!)

7. Bring to a simmer then add the vegetables.

8. Add fish sauce to taste.

9. Cook gently for ten minutes, or until the vegetables are warmed through.

10. Best served with fresh coriander and garlic naan.

Recipe by Olivia Mackay,