Have you ever cooked something for the first time, tasted it, and been completely taken aback at how well it turned out? I mean, actually stopping after the first mouthful to say ‘wow, did I actually make this?’ out loud? Now, I like my cooking. I wouldn’t be writing about it here if I didn’t (as as a quiet vegan, I’m not one to shout), but I can honestly say that I’ve never cooked something before and been so surprised at how it turned out. I actually found it hard to believe that I’d made something that tasted like it might have come from a restaurant!
This all came about from reading a piece in the Guardian about using up leftover tomatoes. Considering I buy tomatoes by the crate-load, ‘leftover’ isn’t a concept I have much association with, but one recipe, for an Indonesian bean curry, caught my eye. There was only one non-vegan ingredient so I thought I’d give it a go, with my own take on things. For starters, the recipe called for only one tomato, which struck me as a little sad for an article inviting us to not to let all those tomatoes go to waste. One! So I added a few more. I also substituted dates for brown sugar, as I don’t like to cook with refined sugars and figured that as they worked so well in my brownies, why not in a curry?
I’ve cooked lots of curries before – mostly of Indian or Pakistani origin –but I’ve always had difficulty with South-East Asian dishes. They just never taste the way they do in restaurants. I don’t know if it’s the lack of fish or shrimp paste, or palm sugar, or something completely secret that I’ll never be let in on, but I’ve always been disappointed and had pretty much given up trying. But this dish was such a success! The shallots literally melted into the creamy, zesty, spicy sauce and the (extra) tomatoes added a real sweetness and depth. The original recipe also said to remove the ginger or galangal pieces before serving, but I love ginger so much I left it in.
So far, I’ve made this dish with brown rice (for Mr Man), rice noodles, oil-free sweet potatoes (with garam masala and lime) and marinated tempeh (coconut oil, lime, soy, garam masala and turmeric). All were delicious!
Sometimes, as a quiet vegan you should take a minute to be proud of your creations and shout about them, so this is that moment. I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! (And it’s really easy, too).
- 1 tsp oil
- 3 echalion shallots
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 large red chilli
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger
- 400g green beans
- 5 fresh tomatoes
- 1 tin coconut milk
- 100ml water
- 4 dates, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp soy
- 2 tsp peanut butter, to serve
- Slice the shallots lengthways, the garlic cloves and chilli. Slice the ginger into thin matchsticks.
- Heat the oil and add the shallots, garlic, chilli and ginger. Stir and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Top and tail the beans, chop the tomatoes and add these to the pan. Stir, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk. water, dates and soy. Cook for 20 minutes.
- Serve with the peanut butter and an extra dash of soy if desired.