Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Wagamama Week: Pumpkin Curry

I am a big fan of pumpkin curry; the sweet, earthy, melting flesh works amazing well with warming spices, and somehow becomes even more flavoursome when cooked nearly to destruction, unlike, say, the potato. I have two pumpkin curries I commonly cook, along with 101 other pumpkin-related recipes. So I was certainly willing to road-test the Wagamama version, which they claim was a one-off special that became so popular, it was added to the main menu.

Ingredients (Quantities in brackets are my revised suggestions):

  • 100g brown rice
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2" piece of ginger root
  • 1/2" piece of galangal root
  • 2 lemongrass sticks
  • 300ml hot water
  • 1/4 tsp salt (1 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp sugar (3 tsp)
  • 100g canned coconut milk (140g)
  • 1 small pumpkin (1/5th of a Japanese pumpkin - about 400g)
  • 2 courgettes (1)
  • 6 button mushrooms (12 or 0)
  • 4 baby sweetcorn
  • handful of sugarsnap peas
  • 4 x 1" cubes of tofu (don't bother)
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach (don't bother)
  • handful of chopped coriander
Set the brown rice cooking according to its packet instructions.

Peel and grate or finely dice the garlic, ginger, galangal and lemongrass, or whiz in a little blender until a fine paste (you'll probably have to double or triple the quantity to get enough friction for a blender to work). Fry in a good glug of vegetable oil over a moderate heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring until softened and fragrant but not coloured. Add the hot water, bring to the boil, then add the salt and sugar; simmer for 20 minutes until reduced by half (I had to cover mine, as it reduced much more quickly than that.)

Meanwhile, peel and deseed the pumpkin, and cut into bite-size chunks. Scoop the seeds out of the middle of the courgette and cut into bite-size chunks. Halve the mushrooms and sweet corn. Stir fry the vegetables for 2 minutes -- I let mine rest occasionally so they picked up a bit of colour. Stir the coconut milk into the reduced sauce and then pour over the vegetables, add the tofu if using, then simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender. Serve the curry with the drained rice, sprinkled with the chopped coriander.

Not bad. Nowhere near as good as either of the two curries I already know, but ok. The quantities they suggested were distressingly large for two people; I couldn't help but scale back the quantity of pumpkin (from a whole one to 1/5th of one!) and we still had enough left over for lunch the next day. The tofu didn't stand up to the treatment it was given; I definitely prefer mine fried to give it some bounce and crunch. I don't know what the spinach was for... looking pretty in their photo? And having all of those different vegetables in there made the curry lack focus; it was a bit too much of a jumble. I'd say either up the mushrooms, or take them out altogether. The sauce was extremely under-seasoned. I would add half a red chilli if you like a bit of spice, and the sugar and salt quantities given were insufficient by a factor of 2-3. I'm glad I used the full tin of coconut milk; their suggested quantity wasn't coconut-y enough. It also felt weird to eat a curry that had no spices in it.

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