The final rays of the season’s sunshine can be eked out a little longer by throwing the last of the harvest into a sweetcorn and tomato curry spiked with chilli, alongside a tower of quick homemade chapatis
My summer was far too short and I’m not ready to let go just yet. I’m wishing with everything I have for another few weeks of sunshine, dinners outside, feet on grass, iced coffees. I don’t yet feel the lure of crisp autumn leaves, knitwear and bowls of soup ... it will come, I know, but for now I’m hell-bent on keeping summer going as long as I can.
So, this week I am doing all I can to encourage an Indian summer, throwing the final spoils of warm weather into a quick curry with some soft chapatis. My kitchen is still cheerful with bowls of tomatoes, citrus, squash and ears of corn. Late corn, less sweet than its earlier renditions, still in paper husks, is all the better for a gentle braise with some spice and a few tomatoes, easy chapati breads as a sidekick, which are even quite meditative to make.
Late summer sweetcorn and tomato curry Serves 4
4 eggs Coconut or olive oil 2 tsp cumin seeds 1 tbsp black mustard seeds 2 tsp fennel seeds 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped A small thumb of ginger, grated 2 red chillies, finely sliced 4 corn on the cob 1 heaped tsp turmeric A pinch of cinnamon 3 tbsp coconut cream 4 tomatoes, roughly chopped 2 lemons – 1 juiced, 1 quartered A small bunch of coriander, leaves picked Yoghurt, basmati rice, chapatis, to serve
1 Bring a pan of water to the boil, then add the eggs and simmer for 5 minutes exactly. Drain the water. When cool enough to handle, crack the shells all over then run under cold water to cool completely. Peel and put to one side.
2 Heat a good splash of oil in a large saucepan and add the cumin and mustard seeds. When they start to pop, lower the heat and add the fennel seeds and onion. Fry for at least 8 minutes, or until soft and sweet, then add the garlic, ginger and 1 of the sliced chillies, then cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the kernels from the corn and discard the centres.
3 Once the garlic has started to brown, stir in the turmeric, cinnamon, coconut cream and chopped tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes have reduced to form a thick sauce.
4 Add the corn kernels and 150ml water, season well and leave to bubble away for 5 minutes. Add the eggs and cook for a few minutes until they are warmed through.
5 Squeeze over the juice of 1 lemon and stir through. Finish by scattering the remaining sliced chilli and coriander leaves over. Serve with a big spoonful of yoghurt, basmati rice and chapatis and the lemon wedges.
Easy chapatis Makes 16
450g wholemeal chapati flour ½ tsp fine salt Rapeseed or olive oil 300ml hot water
1 Put the flour in a large bowl, add the salt and stir together. Make a well in the middle of the flour, add 3 tbsp oil and mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2 Next, pour in around two-thirds of the water, then add the rest little by little – you may not need to add all of it – until you can knead the mixture into a soft and pliable dough.
3 Lightly rub the dough with oil, so it does not dry out. Get ready for rolling: you will need a clean surface or a floured chopping board, a frying pan, a bowl of flour, a rolling pin, a spatula and a plate for your cooked chapatis. Put the frying pan over a medium heat to warm up.
My kitchen is still cheerful with bowls of tomatoes, citrus, squash and ears of corn
4 Once everything is ready, divide your dough into 16 equally sized pieces. Take one piece of dough, roll it into a ball between your palms, coat it generously with flour, flatten it into a disc and then roll it out to around 10cm wide. Dust with more flour then roll it out to the size of a small dinner plate (about 16cm) and transfer it into the hot frying pan.
5 Wait for the edges to look cooked, they will come away from the pan, and for bubbles to appear (about 30 seconds), then turn it over and cook on the other side for another 30 seconds. 6 Turn it over again and press it down gently with the flat side of the spatula – for about 10 seconds, then turn it over again and do the same on the other side. Transfer to a plate while you roll and cook the rest.