Vegetable Masala Curry, 30p.


Proper Vegetable Masala Curry, 89p, serves 3-4 at less than 30p each.

This isn’t vegan. I tried but my pre-first-work-pay-packet budget just couldn’t stretch to £1.99 coconut milk versus 32p of natural yoghurt. I’ve failed my Lent experiment but I’m happy to hold my hands up and say ‘have a fabulous curry recipe’ while I feel a bit guilty about succumbing to yogurt. It was that or miss a couple of meals, and I’m sure nobody will hold it against me. Much.


1 onion, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
1 carrot, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
1 potato, 5p (part of a 20pc veg pack, £1)
1 garlic clove, 3p (46p for 2 bulbs, avg 8 cloves per bulb)
1 carton chopped tomatoes, 35p
1/2 pot natural yoghurt, 32p (65p/500g)
1 vegetable stock cube, 1p (10p for 10)
Fistful of parsley and coriander, free
Shake of garam masala, 3p approx (£1.19/42g)

How To:

1. Peel and chop the onion, and peel and finely slice the garlic, and place in a large sauté pan on a low heat with a splash of oil.

2. Chop the potato, carrot and onion (I dice mine into half inch cubes) and add to the pot, stirring. Halve the chilli and rinse the seeds out (quicker than faffing about with a knife) and add in, so it can be lifted out whole at the end to prevent little mouths getting a hot surprise. You can slice it extremely finely if you want, but life’s too short.

3. Chop the herbs and throw in, with a liberal sprinkle of garam masala.

4. Add 200ml vegetable stock, the carton of chopped tomatoes and 250g of natural yoghurt, stir through, and leave to simmer on a low heat.

5. The trick with curry – good curry – is to allow it to cook slowly and gently in order that the flavours infuse and meld together in an amalgamation of spicy goodness. I let mine simmer gently for about forty minutes, checking and adding stock or water if it starts to dry out.

Serve with plain boiled rice at around 3p per person for 75g Sainsburys Basics.

Make it posh and variations:

1. You can substitute the yoghurt for coconut milk if your budget allows for it, for a sweeter, creamier taste, or if you’re a vegan.

2. Add fennel seeds and crushed cardamom pods for sweetness – I normally would but I don’t have any to hand and this weeks budget wouldn’t allow for an extra ‘spice’ in the spice rack. I try to buy one a week to build the collection up.

3. When cooking the boiled rice, add a shake of turmeric, half a vegetable stock cube, a star anise, some scraped-out cardamom pods and a handful of sultanas for a seriously special accompaniment. Again, I’m surveying my spice rack sadly, and might put one of them on next weeks shopping list!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

*(Prices calculated at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. Costs checked on date of publication against ASDA SmartPrice, Tesco Value, Morrisons Value and Waitrose Essentials. Some variation between major supermarkets but most items widely available at similar price.)


  1. Depending on the size of your supermarket you can sometimes find cheaper coconut milk in the “foreign food with labels in Polish” section rather than the “nicely packaged blue dragon sharwoods not-too-foreign” area.

    • I buy the blocks of creamed coconut. In my local Chinese shop they are 79p and as it is concentrated and I grate a little into dishes as I need it and it lasts forever.

      • ditto to these two suggestions. Also tesco sometimes have 2 for £1 on one of the carribean brands of coconut milk, which ironically has less additives and stabilisers in than blue dragon and other premium brands, since coconut milk has quite a concentrated flavour you could easily use half a tin and keep the other half in the fridge for a few days for something else.

  2. I stumbled across your blog today, and can’t wait to start cooking some of the recipes as they look delicious, will get me cooking a wider variety of food styles, and are such great value! One thing that would be really useful, though, is a basic rundown of what you would buy on a weekly shop, as I imagine buying ingredients specifically for each recipe works out more expensively.

    Thanks! 🙂

    • I will collate my receipts from the past few weeks but it’s different every week. Usually a £1 veg bag, another veg (eg courgette or mushrooms) plus 2 cartons of chopped tomatoes, a pulse, a spice. Occasional pasta or rice but not weekly. Hope that makes sense!

  3. Stumbled across your blog from the BBC website as, I imagine, so many others will do now that you’re on the BBC site’s main page. Your recipes are great, really imaginative and healthy. I’m looking forward to trying them. I wish you all the very best and hope that you don’t need to budget so stringently in the future.

  4. Came here after seeing you on the BBC at the weekend and I am inspired by your recipes – have had to cook 4 of them already and the Veg Masala is simmering as I type! Fortunately, most of the ingredients you use are in my cupboards also (I buy my spices cheap from Asian shops) You are also inspiring, I wish you luck with your 5 day challenge and you & your son happiness for the future. Thanks

  5. I have a bag of frozen casserole veg in my freezer, it has leeks, carrot and stuff in it. I think i’ll use that and hope it works ok. Do you think I could put it in my slow cooker? Would it go mushy if it was cooked too long? Love your recipes, just had a slice of chocolate tea bread I made last night for my breakfast 🙂

  6. Think my yoghurt was off, it curdled and stank. Had to bin it! Think I’ll splash out for coconut milk if I can find it cheap and try again 🙂

  7. Hi,
    Been successfully cooking with all your recipes over the last ten days. This is the first one that has thrown up some issues for me. There is far too much liquid, its like it doesnt need the stock in it at all. Bubbling it away and its gone like a soup, I have thrown in some red lentils to try and rescue it. Sauce tastes fabulous and I have every faith the lentils are going to do the trick. Wondered whether you would check the quantities?

  8. Sarina – I have made this a number of times now and have never had that problem – how strange!

  9. Love your receipes Jack! Also for coconut milk try your corner shop instead – mine has coconut milk for 79p. Still a bit pricey, but better than £1.99!

  10. Just to let people know, if they have a ‘Home Bargains’ nearby, you can get a can of coconut milk for 59p. 🙂

  11. I love your recipes & the idea of tasty food not costing a fortune. Have just done the Vegetable Masala Curry, and feeling a bit plush substituted coconut milk for yoghurt. It tasted yummy, but the sauce was quite runny – with hindsight I guess if you’re putting in coconut milk you should put in a lot less stock?

  12. Made this just now to accompany some AGCJ lentil & spinach daal. Just a couple of comments – the chilli isn’t in the ingredients list. maybe also the herbs and yoghurt might work better if put in later. Their tastes might survive the other ingredients a little more distinctively.

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