Spice it up: Jamie Oliver's guide to the perfect curry night

Made to share: Jamie Oliver's smoky eggplant daal.
Made to share: Jamie Oliver's smoky eggplant daal. Photo: David Loftus

The union of vivacious colours, mellow flavours and surprising textures creates mouth-watering excitement in this Indian-inspired sharing feast from Jamie Oliver's new book, Together.

Smoky eggplant daal

Lentils, black beans, savoury spice and rosemary

  • 1 large eggplant (400g)
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 small sprig of rosemary
  • red wine vinegar
  • 1 x 400g tin of black beans
  • 200g dried Puy lentils
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Jamie Oliver's new book.
Jamie Oliver's new book. Photo: Supplied

Get ahead: Prick the eggplant, then lightly blacken it directly over a flame on the cooktop or in a hot griddle pan, turning with tongs. Remove to a board.

Halve the chilli lengthways and deseed, peel and finely slice the garlic, then peel and finely chop the onion. Crush the cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar and remove the outer shells, then pound up the seeds.

Place a large non-stick ovenproof frying pan on a medium-low heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the cumin, mustard and cardamom seeds. Strip in the rosemary and let it gently sizzle for a few minutes, infusing the oil and allowing the flavours to mingle. Add the chilli, garlic and onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring regularly.

Chop the eggplant into 3cm chunks and stir into the pan, then add 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Let it sizzle for a couple of minutes, then pour in the beans, juice and all, the lentils and 600ml of water. Set fire to the cinnamon stick, then sit it in the centre of the pan. Cover the daal and leave to thicken on a medium-low heat for 1 hour, loosening with splashes of water, if needed, and stirring occasionally. Season to perfection, tasting and tweaking, then cool, cover the pan and refrigerate overnight.

To serve: Preheat the oven to 150C fan-forced (170C conventional). Place the covered pan of daal into the oven until hot through – about 1 hour. Stir well, and serve.

Serves 6 + 2 leftover portions

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ENERGY 132kcal; FAT 2.8g; SAT FAT 0.4g; PROTEIN 9.2g; CARBS 17.6g; SUGARS 2.8g; SALT 0g; FIBRE 5.8g

Fragrant pumpkin curry

Chickpeas, ginger, spices and coconut milk

  • 1 butternut pumpkin (1.2kg)
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4cm piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp medium curry powder
  • 300g ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tinned pineapple rings in juice
  • 1 x 400ml tin of light coconut milk
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
  • optional: 2 sprigs of coriander, to serve

Get ahead: You can make this on the day, if you prefer. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional). Scrub the pumpkin (there's no need to peel it), carefully halve it lengthways and deseed, then chop into 2cm chunks. Place in a roasting tray, toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then roast for 1 hour, or until soft and caramelised.

Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the onion, peel the garlic and ginger, and dry fry in a non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat with the coriander and fenugreek seeds and the curry powder, stirring until lightly charred all over. Add the tomatoes and pineapple rings (reserving the juice), and cook for 10 minutes to soften and char, stirring regularly.

Tip it all into a blender, add the coconut milk and blitz until very smooth. Return to the pan, tip in the chickpeas, juice and all, and simmer gently until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the roasted pumpkin, then season the curry to perfection, tasting and tweaking, and loosening with the reserved pineapple juice. Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

To serve: Preheat the oven to 150C fan-forced (170C conventional). Place the covered pan of curry in the oven until hot through – about 1 hour. Nice with picked coriander leaves.

Serves 6 + 2 leftover portions

ENERGY 159kcal; FAT 6g; SAT FAT 3g; PROTEIN 5g; CARBS 22.6g; SUGARS 11.4g; SALT 0.3g; FIBRE 5.2g

Golden paneer

Sensational tangy spinach curry

  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4cm piece of ginger
  • 2 fresh green chillies
  • olive oil
  • 1 heaped tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney
  • 200g spinach
  • 4 tablespoons natural yoghurt
  • 200g paneer cheese
  • 1 heaped tsp ground turmeric

Get ahead: You can make this on the day, if you prefer. Peel the onion, garlic and ginger. Finely slice the onion, 1 clove of garlic, half the ginger and 1 chilli. Place in a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Fry for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, then stir in the garam masala and mango chutney, followed by the spinach. Let it wilt, then tip the contents of the pan into a blender. Add 2 tablespoons of yoghurt, blitz until smooth, then season to perfection, tasting and tweaking. Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Meanwhile, chop the paneer into 2cm chunks and place in a bowl with the turmeric and ½ a tablespoon of oil. Finely grate over the remaining garlic and ginger and toss gently to coat. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight.

To serve: Fry the paneer in a non-stick frying pan, turning with tongs until golden all over. Prick the remaining chilli and blacken alongside, then remove. Pour in the spinach sauce and simmer for 5 minutes, loosening with splashes of water, if needed. Ripple through the remaining 2 tablespoons of yoghurt, then serve with the blackened chilli and an extra sprinkling of turmeric, if you like.

Serves 6

ENERGY 168kcal; FAT 11.4g; SAT FAT 5.9g; PROTEIN 10.8g; CARBS 6g; SUGARS 4.9g; SALT 0.3g; FIBRE 0.6g

Fennel naan

Buttery, soft flatbread

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast
  • 1 tsp runny honey
  • olive oil
  • 3 tsp fennel seeds
  • 20g unsalted butter or ghee

Get ahead: You can do this on the day, if you prefer. Put the flour and 1 level teaspoon of sea salt into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the yeast into 375ml of lukewarm water with the honey and leave for a few minutes. Now, gradually pour the mixture into the well, stirring and bringing in the flour from the outside to form a dough.

Knead on a flour-dusted surface, picking the dough up and slapping it back down, for 10 minutes, or until smooth and springy, then place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight. If making on the day, cover with a clean damp tea towel and prove in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

To serve: Lightly crush the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar. On a flour-dusted surface, split the dough into three equal pieces. Sprinkle the floured surface with 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, then roll one ball of dough out on top until about 1cm thick.

Place in a hot non-stick pan on a high heat, add 1 tablespoon of water to the pan, immediately cover and cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until golden and puffed up – adding the water creates steam and helps it rise. Remove to a board, rub with a little butter and sprinkle with a small pinch of salt, then repeat the process.

Serves 6

ENERGY 320kcal; FAT 4.6g; SAT FAT 2.1g; PROTEIN 10.2g; CARBS 64.1g; SUGARS 2.4g; SALT 0.7g; FIBRE 2.6g

Fluffy coconut rice

Cardamon, lemon and saffron-infused milk

  • 3 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 450g basmati rice
  • 1 lemon
  • 150ml reduced fat milk
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 small knob of unsalted butter or ghee
  • 6 green cardamom pods

Get ahead: You can make this on the day, if you prefer. Toast the coconut in a pan until lightly golden, tossing regularly, then remove. Put the rice into the same pan, cover with boiling kettle water and boil for 6 minutes, then cool quickly under cold running water and drain well. Tip into a bowl, squeeze over the lemon juice, add the toasted coconut and a big pinch of sea salt and black pepper and mix well, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

To serve: Gently heat the milk, adding the saffron to infuse. Rub the butter across the base of a cold 26cm non-stick frying pan, then sprinkle in the cardamom pods. Tip in the rice, then use your hands to shape into a dome. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke a few holes deep into the dome to help the rice steam and create vessels, so you can spoon in the warm saffron milk. Cover carefully with a scrunched-up sheet of damp greaseproof paper. Use tin foil to tightly seal the pan, then cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, or until the base is crispy and the rice is fluffy and hot through.

Serves 6

ENERGY 311kcal; FAT 4.7g; SAT FAT 3.2g; PROTEIN 7.3g; CARBS 64.4g; SUGARS 1.7g; SALT 0.4g; FIBRE 0.8g

Chopped salad

Bombay mix, crunchy veg, mint and orange

Get ahead: On a large board, trim 200g of radishes and 2 little gem lettuces, pick over the leaves from 2 sprigs of mint, then finely chop it all with ½ a cucumber. Squeeze over the juice from 1 orange and mix together, then season to perfection, tasting and tweaking. Transfer to a platter, then gently crush 2 tablespoons of Bombay mix in a pestle and mortar and scatter over the top.

Serves 6

ENERGY 34kcal; FAT 1.2g; SAT FAT 0.2g; PROTEIN 1.7g; CARBS 4.4g; SUGARS 2.7g; SALT 0.1g; FIBRE 1.2g

Carrot raita

Lemon and nigella seeds

On the day: Toast 2 teaspoons of nigella seeds in a non-stick pan until smelling fantastic. Wash 1 large carrot, then coarsely grate into a bowl. Add 250g of natural yoghurt and the nigella seeds. Squeeze in the juice from ½ a lemon and mix. Season to perfection, tasting and tweaking. Finish with a kiss of extra virgin olive oil, if you like, then cover and refrigerate until needed.

Serves 6

ENERGY 47kcal; FAT 2.6g; SAT FAT 1.2g; PROTEIN 2.2g; CARBS 4.3g; SUGARS 3.5g; SALT 0.1g; FIBRE 0.5g

Mango chutney

Pomegranate jewels

On the day: Halve 1 pomegranate and, holding one half cut side down in the palm of your hand, bash the back with a spoon so all the seeds tumble out into a bowl. Squeeze in the juice from the other half through a sieve, stir in 4 tablespoons of mango chutney, then finely chop and add a few coriander leaves, if you like.

Serves 6

ENERGY 30kcal; FAT 0.1g; SAT FAT 0g; PROTEIN 0.2g; CARBS 7.4g; SUGARS 6.7g; SALT 0.3g; FIBRE 0.3g

Minted mango fro-yo

Pistachio dust and chocolate

To serve: Make this to order. In a food processor, blitz 50g of shelled unsalted pistachios into a fine dust, then tip on to a plate. Crush 3 green cardamom pods in a pestle and mortar and remove the outer shells, then pound the seeds until fine and put in the processor with 500g of frozen mango chunks and the leaves from 1 sprig of mint. Blitz together. With the processor still running, add 3 tablespoons of natural yoghurt and the juice of ½ a lime. Now, while it's still frozen and scoopable, gently roll spoonfuls of mixture in the pistachio dust and serve right away. Finish with a grating or shaving of dark chocolate (70%).

Serves 6

ENERGY 132kcal; FAT 6.5g; SAT FAT 1.8g; PROTEIN 3g; CARBS 16.3g; SUGARS 15.8g; SALT 0.1g; FIBRE 0.5g

Together by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Michael Joseph © Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2021 Together). Photography: © David Loftus, 2021