Red Rice and Curry

In some parts of the world March means that spring is on its way, in Toronto it means that we get more February weather. This is the time of year when we want comfort food but we really need our veggies. My favourite way to address this issue is with a slew of curry dishes. We live in Toronto after all so there is no shortage of curry powders and blends to experiment with.

It’s easy to add a lot of vegetables into a curry and with the heat of the curry spice and the warmth of the dish you still serve up a plate of comfort food that offers more than just meat and potatoes. Speaking of spuds, taking it easy on the white foods might be a good idea now to get in tune for springtime.

Forgo the white rice when serving up a curry and cook some brown rice instead, or, even better, red rice. There are a number of varieties of red rice, I like the medium grain Bhutanese rice because it cooks faster than the notoriously long cooking brown rice. It’s got a nice chewiness and nuttiness to it, so much more flavour and texture than generic white rice.

For a curry I like to use squash as my ‘meat’, butternut or kabocha are best because they are easy to peel and cube.

Sautee the cubes in a bit of oil and a few tablespoons of your favourite curry spice, then add some coconut milk and let simmer adding in other veggies at the appropriate times so they are all cooked and ready at the same time. Cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini, Asian long beans, lima beans, chickpeas, tomato, spinach, collards, mustard greens – all these veggies and more have made their way into my curries. Any combination of those with some tender cooked squash in a spicy coconut sauce served over nutty red rice makes the perfect dish for this time of year.

Set out a bunch of garnishes like plain yogurt, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, chopped cashews, spiced pumpkin seeds and chopped mango. Add a side of toasted naan and you’ve got a dinner that’s packed with vegetables and heady with comforting aromas and interesting textures. Hunker down and start experimenting with curries as we wait for the soft breath of spring to blow.

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