Chermoula hails from Morocco so it might seem unusual to use it in a curry, but as its packed with herbs and spices it makes an excellent base to add other complimentary flavours like ginger and curry leaves, all of which work brilliantly with coconut yoghurt. Cooking the vegetables in almost only their own liquid keeps the dish light and fresh, aided by the citrus flavour from the preserved lemons in the Chermoula.
3 onions, 2 peeled and chopped for the curry, 1 peeled and thinly sliced to go on top
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2-inch piece ginger, peeled (use a teaspoon for this) and finely chopped or grated
10 fresh curry leaves (these can be hard to find so if using dried, use more, around 15)
1 long red chilli, stalk removed, split in half and seeds removed, then finely chopped
3 tbsp Chermoula
1 large sweet potato, washed and cut into 2cm chunks
½ 660g jar Chickpeas
200g cavolo nero – leaves separated from the stalks; stalks finely chopped
1 small bunch coriander (approx. 30g)
1 tsp black onion seeds
Salt and pepper
A medium saucepan or sauté pan with a lid works best for this recipe, but a frying pan with a lid will work too. Place on a medium to high heat and add 75ml olive oil and when hot, add the diced onion, garlic, ginger and curry leaves. Season with salt and stir so that everything is coated in oil. Cook for around 10-12 minutes at a constant sizzle, stirring occasionally, so that the onions are sweet, softened and lightly caramelised. You may need to turn the heat down to prevent them burning, as the moisture gradually evaporates.
Add the Chermoula and half the chopped chilli, you can adjust the amount of chilli to your taste. Stir and cook for 2 minutes to release the flavour from the Chermoula.
Add the chickpeas, along with a splash of their liquid, the sweet potato and the cavolo nero. Season with salt and pepper, add a splash of water then stir everything so that it is coated with the Chermoula. Cover with a lid and set the heat to medium so that everything cooks at a gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, checking occasionally to see if a little more water is needed to stop the vegetables from sticking.
Whilst the curry is cooking, make the rice. Place the rice in a small saucepan and pour over 300ml of boiling water. Season with a few pinches salt and bring to the boil, then turn down to the lowest setting and cover with a lid or some baking paper and a plate. Cook for 20 minutes then turn off the heat.
Once the rice is on, make the charred onions to serve on top of the curry. Place a small frying pan on a high heat. Place the sliced onion in small bowl, add 15ml (1tbsp) olive oil and season with a pinch of salt. Add the onion to the pan and cook for around 3 minutes then turn the heat down to between medium to high and cook for another 3 minutes. The onions want to be singed and charred, but not completely burnt, with a dark caramelised flavour and still have a little bit of bite to them. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Remove the lid from the curry and use a knife to check that the sweet potato is tender and cooked. If not, cook for a few minutes more. Add the yoghurt and stir to combine. Bring up the heat so the yoghurt begins to simmer. The curry doesn’t need to be swimming in sauce, but if it looks a bit dry then add a little water. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as you think necessary.
To serve, divide the rice between plates or bowls, then spoon the curry on top. Sprinkle some of the charred onions, remaining chopped chilli, black onion seeds and fresh coriander on top of each portion and add another spoonful of yoghurt if you wish.