Variety is the spice of life – creative cooking with leftover curry paste
Words by Katy Hofstede-Smith
“There are always those jars lurking on the top shelf (or in my case top three shelves) of the fridge bought for a particular recipe, used once and then left forgotten, taking up valuable space as you move on to something else. My less successful Malawian hot sauce may not be so easy to incorporate into everyday meals, but others, with a little experimentation, can create something quite unexpected.
Take for example the humble curry paste; obviously you can use this as the staple to any meat or vegetable curry, or as a fantastic flavour base for dhal, but there are a few other more interesting things that you can do with it.
For a super speedy and tasty supper or lunch box dish, mix curry paste with natural yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice, and use as a marinade for paneer, firm white fish, chicken, pork or beef. Grill the pieces and eat with salad and a spoonful of seasoned yoghurt wrapped in chapatis, served with vegetables and rice, or layered into a lunch box with lentils, grains and salad.
If you’re wanting a dish that holds the flavours of India but isn’t necessarily as heavy as curry, try mixing the curry paste with some mango chutney, and use to marinate raw jumbo prawns or squid, frying quickly with some garlic until cooked.
If you’re ready for some BBQ cooking, try making your own burgers, mixing curry paste into the meat mix for something a little different. This works best with either beef or lamb. Cook the burgers and serve in lightly toasted flatbread or naan, piled with salad, sliced onion and yoghurt. If the weather is looking a little more British summer than Indian summer you can always make these smaller and turn them into meatballs, cooked indoors, and served with a quinoa salad and breads.
It may be one of the most kitsch retro dishes around, but in my opinion, coronation chicken has to be one of the best. Mix curry paste with mayonnaise and thick natural yoghurt, add a small squeeze of tomato puree or good quality ketchup, and of course some soaked sultanas, and mix through with some cold cooked chicken. Use it to top a hot jacket potato, cold rice or grain salad, or my particular weakness, inside a crusty but soft baguette with lettuce. For a side dish or veggie version, combine the sauce with grated carrot, cabbage and onion to make a coronation coleslaw. With two Royal weddings coming up this year, there’s surely got to be a gathering just asking for a big bowl of coronation yumminess!
Soups are the most versatile of dishes and take all sorts of flavours amazingly well. There is of course the well-known mulligatawny, a subtly spiced soup/curry from the days of the British Raj, which could be made very quickly and easily using your leftover curry paste. Given this may seem slightly obvious, there are plenty of other combinations that could take on the flavour well. On a cold, grey British winter’s day, spiced parsnip soup has to be one of the best comforters. Thick, sweet, spiced and warming. Simply cook through some curry paste, add in some chopped parsnips and cook for a couple of minutes before adding stock and simmering until cooked. Blitz and serve, preferably with crisped peelings of parsnip on top. Cauliflower also works really well, as well as carrots and any other root vegetable, or add to a chicken noodle soup for an extra boost of healing chilli.
If all of the above don’t feel quite adventurous enough then it’s time to head down the full-on fusion path: shepherd’s pie with a curry paste twist, curried fish pie with a filo topping, shortcrust chicken or meat curry pie with caramelised onions, roast chicken and potatoes with a curry gravy (think of the best chips and curry sauce) or lamb curry sausage rolls.
With a little imagination you’ll soon be needing a new jar of curry paste – enjoy!”