In 1846, curry’s place in the hearts and minds of the British people was forever fixed when William Makepeace Thackeray wrote "Poem to Curry," with its sweeping conclusion, "Tis, when done/A dish for Emperors to feed upon." So as it turns out, St. John’s vegetarian curry is British to the core, although some Brits do lament its kudzu-like way of overtaking fish and chips as the national dish. It starts with a quick sauté of onion, celery, and garlic in butter, along with a heaping spoonful of curry powder. Chickpeas are used here for a vegetarian source of protein, but any large legume will do, including fava beans or giant white butterbeans.
Reprinted with permission from Come In, We’re Closed © 2012 by Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon curry powder
- 1 Cup basmati rice
- 1/2 Cup drained canned chickpeas
- 1/4 Cup golden raisins (optional)
- 1/4 Cup toasted, slivered almonds (optional)
- 1 3/4 Cup vegetable stock
- 2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped chervil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Lemon wedges, for serving
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the frothing subsides, sauté the onion, celery, and garlic until the onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the curry powder, stirring to release its aroma, for about 1 minute. Add the rice, chickpeas, and stock as well as the optional raisins and almonds; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, 15-20 minutes.
Remove from the heat, stir in the chervil, season with salt and pepper, and set aside, covered, for 5 minutes.
Fluff with a fork, then heap onto platters bordered with lemon wedges. Encourage guests to add a squeeze or two to the whole affair.