Dinner party recipes

Baked cambodian style curry

Baked cambodian style curry The basis for this recipe came from a program about South East Aian cooking by Rick Stein. I watched and took notes as a Cambodian cook made the dish for the viewers. So although I haven't been to Cambodia I can say with confidence that this is an authentic recipe.

The original recipe used a white fish and fish sauce so I have used chefs licence to make it vegetarian.

For the spice paste

1 small red onion
3 stalks of lemon grass, peeled and chopped
1 thumb of galangal, peeled and chopped
4 red chillies
1 tablespoon of turmeric
70g (3oz) peanuts
2 cloves of garlic
1 tin coconut milk

Place all of the ingredients into a jug blender, food processor or hand blender and whizz it all up until you have the smoothest paste possible. In the original recipe they used fresh turmeric and added kaffir lime leaves to the paste. I couldn't find fresh turmeric so I have used ground and I decided to add the kaffir lime leaves later. Use fresh, dried or frozen. Most Chinese and Asian shops stock them and they are available online also.

For the curry

50ml (3 to 4 tbsp) vegetable oil or peanut oil
All of the curry paste
2 tins coconut milk
6 kaffir lime leaves
2 star anise
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
dash soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime or lemon

1 small butternut squash, diced
300g (11oz) new potatoes, diced
1 small aubergine, cubed
1 courgette, cubed
200g (7oz) frozen peas

First of all start by making the curry sauce. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the curry paste. As it starts to sizzle and splutter keep stirring it. Keep stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan as the paste cooks. The idea is to cook the raw vegetables and the turmeric to release their natural flavours. After about 5 minutes add the coconut milk, lime leaves and star anise. Bring the sauce to a slow simmer.

After five minutes add all the vegetables and simmer until the potatoes are just cooked through. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes. Season with the lemon juice, soy sauce and sugar. Take of the heat and cool. The curry will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days and freezes well. The vegetables I have used here aren't important to the dish - use local and seasonal vegetables.

To serve mix in 2 to 3 eggs into the curry sauce and place into bowls or ramekins. Bake in a medium oven for 10 to 15 minutes and serve with your favourite rice and plenty of salad. The curry is as equally delicious without the egg if you prefer it vegan. In this case just serve it as you would any curry.

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