Friday, 24 June 2011

CC Banana Curry

What to tell you first?  That I love Rose Eliot, respected elder of British vegetarian cookbooks.  That I wish I knew what cookbook writers tasted when they made the recipe.  That bananas are horrendously expensive in Melbourne following the Queensland cyclone and some would gasp in horror at putting them in a curry.  That dinner is always an adventure with Sylvia in the kitchen.

Let's start with Rose Eliot.  I have admired her for a long time.  When I first went vegetarian I was introduced to her cookbooks and have been buying them ever since.  She has a prodigious output.  One of her more recent books (2006) is called Vegetarian Supercook.  These recipes are fresh and modern compared to some of her older books.  Yet it has taken me over a year of owning the book to actually cook from it.  Blame blogging.  Blame a busy life.  Blame the tyranny of choice of too many cookbooks.  Thankfully the Cookbook Challenge is prompting me to return to some of my unused cookbooks.

The Cookbook Challenge theme last fortnight was spice.  I took the opportunity to finally make Rose Eliots's Banana Curry with Cashew Rice.  Sadly, the spice was rather understated.  I have had so many dishes work from her cookbooks that I wondered why this one didn't seem quite right.  I changed a few ingredients but I also disagreed with a couple of things.  Her suggestion of tossing cashews through rice seemed unnecessarily fiddly.  It was easier to sprinkle cashews on top.

Cooking dinner seems to take longer than ever these days.  I take any shortcuts I can.  As you will see in the photo below, Sylvia still has a different dinner to us many nights.  I often offer her some of what we have but I have enough problems getting her to eat the plain food she prefers.

Sylvia was eating dinner while I was cooking but not terribly interested in it.  I turned around at one point and found she had climbed into her toy pram with two dollies on her lap.  I much preferred it when she ran into the loungeroom to dance around the room while eating a tofu nugget.

I wish I knew why she is not so keen on vegetables suddenly, then tells me I am "a bit naughty" if I try eat a piece of the fruit that I am sharing with her (because don't toddlers own the whole world).  I hope you get the picture of how much constant supervision is required to try and get her to eat.

A few disclaimers.  My bananas might not have been as green as Rose intended - beggars can't be choosers when racing around the shops (especially when I got to Brunswick St at 10am on the day in question, only to find that the shops I needed were still closed, so I had to return to our local pool for Sylvia's swimming lesson, and then back to Brunswick St where Sylvia made mischief in the Brunswick St bookstore).  I didn't quite cook the potatoes enough the first night (but a burst in the microwave for the potatoes before reheating the following night fixed that).  I probably cooked the meal a bit longer than Rose intended (see above.rant about Sylvia).

E looked at the fresh bunch of curry leaves and said they looked like a hedge.  He thought some curry powder might improve the meal.  I loved the spices on paper but it needed a bit more oomph.  Perhaps it would work better in summer with the delicate flavours and the fruit.

I've wanted to try banana in curry for ages.  My interested in bananas in a savoury recipe was piqued by this adventurous recipe.  I am glad I have finally had my first experiment.  It may take a few more goes before I am convinced I got it right.  It is not a difficult or time consuming recipe and with a bit more spice, I think it might be lovely.

To see what my fellow Cookbook Challengers made with spice, go here.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Food props - food photography
This time two years ago: Refugee Week Stew
This time three years ago: Pumpkin chutney
This time four years ago: WHB Soda Bread for Remembrance

Banana curry
adapted from Rose Eliot's Vegetarian Supercook
serves 4

500g baby potatoes, halves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 green capsicums, chopped
2 tsp mustard seeds
5g or small bunch of curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, crushed
250ml coconut cream
1 tsp tamarind paste
1/2 - 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
4 bananas
125g cashews (or in my case, 4 handfuls)
rice, to serve (Rose suggested 300g but I found this a bit much for us)

Cook potatoes for about15 minutes until cooked but not falling apart.  Drain and set aside.  Cook the rice and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saucepan and fry onion and green capsicum for about 10 minutes over medium heat.  Stir in mustard seeds and heat a minute or two until they pop (though I am not sure if mine popped).  Add curry leaves, turmeric, ginger and garlic and stir for about a minute.

Add coconut cream, tamarind paste, salt, bananas and cooked potatoes and cook for about 5-10 minutes until bananas start to soften.  Serve hot over rice and sprinkle with roughly chopped cashews.

On the stereo:
Time Pieces: the best of Eric Clapton


  1. My mum loves bananas in curry, but I always gave them a wide berth. I think my tastes must have changed though as I am now thinking it sounds rather good.

  2. A banana curry certainly sounds very interesting! I've had the banana and coconut accompaniment in Indian restaurants but never a banana curry! I love reading your tales about Sylvia-she sounds like she is becoming a very interesting individual already! :)

  3. I have a banana curry recipe I clipped from a newspaper or magazine or somewhere that's been sitting in my "to make" file for years. I do remember that it calls for very green bananas, though. ;) And I'm appalled at how expensive they are over there! In the end, did you enjoy the curry? Should I venture to make it? (and what a laugh I had at E's comment about the hedge!).

  4. Banana curry - interesting! Shame that the spice was understated. Still I'd be interested in trying this out when bananas are cheaper (and with the addition of more spices!)

  5. I love Rose Elliot, too. I own a lovely book by her but use far too seldom :(
    Your banana curry looks overwhelmingly good. Brilliant combination. Will try :)

  6. It certainly sounds interesting - I have to admit that I've never had bananas in anything savoury at all I don't think!

    I know the struggle is ongoing, so wishing you more luck and patience for Sylvia's eating. I'm sure that helping you cook and just being around so much good, home cooked food will pay off in the long run for you both.

  7. This sounds really interesting and not something I have come across before. I suppose the sweetness is meant to balance the spices. Would be a talking point if served when friends came to dinner

  8. Fascinating recipe! I've only ever had platain chips, so a green banana curry intrigues me greatly. Would have to search for them here in Canberra though!

  9. I've never thought of putting a banana in a curry. I like the sounds of it though....and kids and veges? Establishing their independence?...

  10. I love this recipe, it is a regular in my house but I think you are right - it is best in summer when you have the pick of the cheap tasty bananas. I also add corainder when serving, delicous!

  11. Thanks Jacqueline - Rose Eliot might have avoided the curry powder so it was less of that old style curry that our mothers generations made with lots of fruit - this is quite a different dish

    Thanks Lorraine - banana and coconut is such a great combination - yes sylvia is quite a little person these days - glad you enjoy hearing about her hijinks

    Thanks Ricki - loved the curry - maybe it would have had a bit more oomph if the bananas were greener - but I find that the bananas are all really really green or really really ripe when I buy them in the supermarket and there are less of them since the cyclone sent their prices sky high

    Thanks Agnes - banana prices are ridiculous - fortunately I only buy a few every now and again so the prices don't affect me too much but they have become quite a treat due to the price

    Thanks Torwen I love her recipes - they are the sort I always feel I can make but lots of good ideas - hope you enjoy the curry

    Thanks C - I am comforted by Sylvia's oldest cousin who eats interesting food but used to love it really plain when she was little - and re the banana recipes - I have tried them in savoury food a few times they are very good with a little lemon juice and parsley over a curry and I have a banana dahl recipe I want to try

    Thanks Katie - definitely a good way to create a stir at a dinner party - I quite like using fruit in savoury foods - esp fruit in salad because I like that hint of sweetness.

    Thanks Hannah - I just used the greenest regular bananas I could find (and they probably should have been a bit greener)

    Thanks Brydie - oh yes Sylvia is definitely little miss independent - she wouldn't eat bananas in a curry but I'd recommend it

  12. Thanks Meg - glad to hear it works for you - makes me hopeful about trying it again

  13. Lol I love how Sylvia says you're "a bit naughty". That's so adorable. I've heard of Rose Eliot but have never looked through any of her cookbooks before. One day I will get one! This curry sounds really interesting with the bananas.

  14. Oh my goodness how can I forget Rose Elliot, like you she has been a huge influence on me. For me she is the Queen of Vegetarian cuisine in the UK, I know many have come after her wanting that accolade, even kings and princes - but she will always reign. I have this cookbook so will check out the recipe. I have no doubt that Jack Monroe has been inspired by her, or whoever made it for Jack Monroe was inspired by a Rose Elliot recipe knowing or unknowingly.


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