By Aine Carlin | August 29, 2011

Photo: Aine Carlin

Curries are a mainstay in my kitchen. When in doubt, I bust out a curry and all is right in my world. Hubby emphatically agrees. Whether it be a coconut curry, a tomato based one or just a simply spiced affair, curries have long been my salvation when I need something quick, tasty, and relatively painless.

While it may look like a very long list of ingredients I can assure you this is not a complicated or lengthy recipe and one of the best things about it is that most of these items will most likely already be in your kitchen. Aside from perhaps a few of the spices, this should be a go-to meal for most people – show me a person who doesn’t stock potato and cauliflower on a weekly basis.

The only slightly unusual addition is the fennel. I would heed an educated guess that there are a number of you out there who’ve not yet experienced the greatness of this rather strange looking bulb.

I avoided fennel for years. To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t a clue what to do with it or which dishes I should be using it in. Then I discovered it was fantastic for bad circulation (from which my Husband suffers) and I made the decision to brave the bulb and use it in a curry – after all, I’d been using fennel seeds in curries for years anyway.

Since then I haven’t looked back and now freely use fennel in a multitude of dishes including warm salads. It lends a beautifully fragrant, yet not overpowering, taste to any dish in which it is used and for this particular curry it is a vital component. Just remember to slice it as thinly as possible (this is key!) – it should play a supporting role, not the main feature.

I’d be bold enough to say this dish is in my top five curries and for anyone wanting to exchange meat for vegetables this Meatless Monday, this, in my humble opinion, is as good at it gets.

  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 fennel bulb
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 large chili
  • thumbsized piece of ginger
  • 4 or 5 salad potatoes
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 heaped tsp garam masala
  • 1 scant tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp vegetable bouillon granules
  • 4 leave of cavolo nero or kale
  • small punch finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • oil


1. Roughly chop the onion and thinly slice the fennel. Heat a little oil in a pan and add the onion and fennel. Season with salt and gently fry for several minutes, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn't color.

2. Mince the garlic, chili, and ginger and add to pan. Stir to incorporate, season, clamp on lid and allow the flavors to infuse on a low heat for several minutes.

3. Wash and peel the potatoes and cut into wedges. Add to pan. Stir, clamp on lid and cook for a few minutes before adding the cauliflower florets. Mix thoroughly, clamp on lid and allow to soften for a minute or two.

4. Sprinkle in the spices and mix stir to ensure the potato and cauliflower florets are completely coated. Next stir through the tomato puree, again until everything is coated, clamp on lid and cook for a further minute or two allowing the spices to really penetrate the vegetables with flavor.

5. Add the vegetable bouillon/granules and pour in just enough water to cover the vegetables. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are just tender. Make sure not to overcook the cauliflower, it should retain shape and texture.

6. Wash the cavolo nero and slice into small strips. In the final ten minutes of cooking, add the leaves to the pan allowing them to wilt. Taste for seasoning and add most of the chopped flat leaf parsley, retaining a little for serving.

Serve with freshly boiled brown rice and adorn with the remaining parsley.

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