Mushroom Rogan Josh, 26p (VG/V/DF/GF)

Last night I fancied a curry, a nice hot curry to warm the very cockles of my draughty flat, but like so many evenings of the dreaded ‘cooking for one’, I just couldn’t decide what curry to have. I opened the fridge, glowered at a bunch of onions and a handful of mushrooms, and took to Twitter with a poll. It’s my new favourite way of, to coin a phrase, Making Your Mind Up. (I challenge you, Brits of a certain age, to not take that on as an earworm now. I make no apologies.)

The poll returned me a mushroom rogan josh over a korma or vindaloo, and I set about making it. Recipes online vary wildly, from the eyebrow-raising ‘take a jar of madras paste’ on the BBC Good Food website, to paprika, to Jamie Oliver’s cloves and allsorts. I picked all the bits I liked from about seven different recipes, made it vegan, adjusted it to taste as I went along, and when done, carried the pan to bed and devoured the lot.

Here’s my mushroom rogan josh, so delicious that I had it cold for breakfast this morning, smeared on toast with a fistful of spinach, too.

Serves 4 at 26p each (or would have done, if I wasn’t such a chomper). All prices Sainsburys, Basics range where available, as that’s where I shop. I do get spices from a brilliant ethnic grocer, but don’t expect you all to make the trip to Southend for them.

2 medium sized onions or one massive one, 9p (70p/1.5kg Basics)
4 fat cloves of garlic, 8p (30p/2 bulbs Basics)
4 cardamom pods, 10p (£1/28g)
2 tbsp oil, 3p (£3/3l sunflower oil)
1 tsp coriander/dhaniya powder (£1/ )
½ tsp turmeric, 2p (£1/48g Fairtrade)
a few pinches of cinnamon, 1p (£1/45g)
a few pinches of chilli flakes, to taste, 1p (£1/42g)
200g mushrooms, 45p ( 90p/400g Basics)
400g chopped tomatoes, 35p (35p/400g Basics)
a fistful of fresh coriander, or parsley if cori isn’t your thing, 10p (80p/28g)
50ml coconut cream/full fat coconut milk/coconut yoghurt/you get the drift, 18p (90p/250g coconut cream) (not essential but good to temper the spice if cooking for young mouths or people with less of a tolerance for the hot stuff. Non vegans can replace it with natural yoghurt)

First peel and finely slice your onions, and peel and smash up your garlic. This has a relatively long cooking time for one of my recipes, so you can just lay the garlic on the worktop, place the fattest knife you have flat across it, and firmly drive the heel of your palm down to crush it. Please be careful. Please don’t drive your palm into the sharp bit. Please chop it in a regular fashion if you have any concerns about this. Finding a soft, creamy, still-slightly-pungent broken clove of garlic in my dinner is one of my favourite foodie delights, but if you feel differently about this, chop it up finely.

Regardless, throw the onions and garlic into a pan. Break the cardamon pods (see garlic method above, or carefully halve them with a sharp knife) and release the seeds. If you don’t have cardamom, a just-as-good substitute would be star anise, fennel seed or caraway, but just a little.

Add the oil and bring to a medium heat to warm the pan through. Stir to disturb and stop the onions from burning, and inhale as the cardamom seeds toast, pop and release their delicate, heady fragrance. You deserve this. Love yourself. Treat yourself. Enjoy. I find cooking for one such an indulgent pleasure, such a selfish moment, a treat. Those of you who follow me on Instagram will have noticed I often cook very late at night, when the boy-child is sleeping, when the last emails have been answered, when peace has been restored to my chaotic home, I stand over my hob and delight in the selfish pleasure of satisfying my senses, one by one by one.

Give it all a few minutes, and when the onion starts to soften, add the remaining spices. In goes the dhaniya, the turmeric, the cinnamon, a pinch of salt, a crack of pepper, with a stir. Slice your mushrooms and toss them in, coat them in the spices, and let those, too, soften for a moment.

Pour over the tomatoes, add 150ml water, and stir. Bring to a bubbling boil, then reduce back down to a simmer. If you’re cooking rice with it, now would be a good time to pop that on. (For what it’s worth, I cook my rice with a few pinches of turmeric, cinnamon, and a fistful of sultanas. Sometimes I add a cardamom pod or star anise or two, sometimes stir through coconut milk or cream at the end to make a sticky kind-of-pilau-risotto. Sometimes it takes a bunch of spinach, parsley or coriander for colour and goodness, other times I leave it yellow and glorious.)

Cook until the sauce has thickened, around 20 minutes, and then taste it. Add salt if you like it, a dash of lemon to brighten it, and serve with a dollop of coconut cream on top.

Jack Monroe. I’m on Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr @MxJackMonroe


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  1. Sounds great Jack, gonna try that, and good luck on seeing that evil cow Hoping, I detest every part of that thing, she is evil on earth and needs her tongue cutting out over what she says, thanks for the lovely recipes xx

  2. Wonderful 🙂 Thank you. K x

    On Tuesday, January 19, 2016, COOKING ON A BOOTSTRAP by JACK MONROE wrote:

    > Jack Monroe posted: “Last night I fancied a curry, a nice hot curry to > warm the very cockles of my draughty flat, but like so many evenings of the > dreaded ‘cooking for one’, I just couldn’t decide what curry to have. I > opened the fridge, glowered at a bunch of onions and a ha” >

  3. This sounds fab- I am vegan and LOVE mushrooms so can’t wait to try a curry with them as the main veg! Thanks Jack! 🙂

  4. Sounds good, Jack. It really is the weather for vegetable curry, this week. I’ve been eating spiced lentil dahl most of the week, myself, varying it by changing the accompanying greenery. Nothing complicated, just roughly equal weights of onions, carrots, tinned tomatoes and red lentils, successively sauted and then spiced before pressure-cooking. While vaguely emulating the spices listed on a curry powder carton, I accidentally gave it masses more dried ginger than I’d intended – and it smelt simply wonderful, sweet and warm at once without being too hot.

    For those Londoners too far from Southend, a good source of ethnic spices is the ever-spreading chain ofTurkish Food Centres; the Dalston one has never failed to produce anything that I need.

      • Good ideas, will give one of them a go, thanks. I must admit I’m quite tempted to try it with mushrooms, although I know I don’t like them, I think I’m trying to convince myself I do.

  5. Jack,
    I love how you bring the dilemma and delights of cooking for one to the fore in different ways.

    Decisions by oneself can be torturous. Getting to the process of making is another leap. Then there’s the delight of doing it your way, for you, and then savouring the whole lot if that’s what right for you at the time.

    Your first book is helping inspire to more than peanut butter or cheese as the protein to a couple of handfuls of salad.

  6. This was great! I made it for dinner tonight but I subbed chickpeas because I didn’t have mushrooms. I also threw in lots of little remainders of frozen veg…green beans, peas and spinach. I really liked the flavors and my husband and children said that (oddly, I think) the coconut cream gave it a cheesy flavor.

  7. I now tend to buy my herbs and spices and a lot more things from Spices Of India, who are based in Dorset. If they haven’t got it, you don’t need it! Excellent service, fast and efficient. Orders over £40 post free. They sell tons of stuff including fresh groceries, cookware and they even have free recipes! It’s an Aladdin’s Cave of goodies!

  8. Definitely going to try this. Your recipe books are my favourites, I am a huge fan of yours. 🙂 mum of two young boys. Xxx

  9. Regarding coconut milk/cream: Given how expensive it is, ALWAYS look at the percentage of coconut solids written on the can and always buy the one with the highest percentage. Some are ridiculously low and filled with thickening agents – and there will be only pennies difference in the price. Makes me mad! And NEVER buy the supposed “reduced fat” versions – that just means added water and eve less value for money.

  10. I buy powdered coconut milk from an ethnic grocer. Works out much cheaper than buying the tins. Sounds great. Shall try it with aubergine.

  11. Just had a bowlful with some coconut yoghurt mixed in and a slice of bread. Very satisfying. I think on a second go I’d cook the mushrooms separately, reducing them right down to bring out the full flavour and (for me) only half the amount of spices – I’m rather fragrant right now! Wonderful.

  12. This sounds great and it is so easy to make. The only curry pastes I have got in the house are red and green Thai curry paste. I tried to make them myself but I preferred the ready made sauce (which is unusual as I make all my Indian curries from scratch). The green paste is particularly great with mushrooms (but I don’t think the paste is vegan). I get my herbs and spices cheaply in Asian or Chinese grocers or in the ethnic aisles of larger supermarkets.

  13. Made this last night as had some bargin mushrooms sat in the fridge, didn’t have any creamed coconut so used a little coconut oil to cook the onions and spices. Turned out yummy and will def make again

  14. This was fantastic. We’ve just had it and feel suitably full and happy! I added some more spicy as we like it hot, and had it with udon noodles. Thanks for the recipe!

  15. Thanks Jack !
    Love mushrooms ! Giving this a try over the weekend on my new cooker : ) I get a bit nervous about curries and then they end up bland so hoping I can get better now with your recipes.
    Moved into this house 4 years ago – started out with a camping stove, then a 2 ring table top stove, got a microwave given and an old oven from a friends mum’s garage and finally had enough for a lovely proper cooker in the sales ! So bloody excited to cook on it !!!

  16. Sounds lovely, although I hate mushrooms so would do a substitution, but that’s what great about your recipes we all know we can use what we have to make a similar version. I do hope this one will be in the new book.

    Have a lovely weekend. xx

  17. I’ve made this twice now – in fact I’m eating it right now – and all I can say is ‘Yum’ and I think ‘Serves 4’ is wildly optimistic. I served mine with quinoa and topped it off with a little grated coconut and a dollop of mango chutney. Fortunately I’m a one vegan household so the omnivires aren’t going to come sniffing around.

  18. Made this tonight for dinner. It was so flavoursome and tasty. I was a bit worried about halfway through it would be a bit tomato-y, but by the time the rice was cooked through it was perfect. I left out the chilli so our 4 year old could cope with it, then smothered mine in lime chutney.
    Unfortunately none left for tomorrow lunch, will make more next time!

  19. Hi Jack, thanks so much for sharing all your recipes. I don’t like mushrooms or aubergines, … I was wondering if there are other alternatives that I could use? What would you recommend please? Thankyou . Nicola

  20. I’m already in Southend Jack, (well Shoebury) ……………… so where’s this ethnic grocer hiding please?

  21. Sounds lovely, although I hate mushrooms so would do a substitution, but that’s what great about your recipes we all know we can use what we have to make a similar version. I do hope this one will be in the new book.

  22. I really can’t imagine how this would stretch to four people. I doubled the spices and upped the mushrooms by 50%. I served it with some rice and dhal. It tastes fantastic I’ll be coming back for more

  23. Tip for buying coconut milk- if you have a Chinese supermarket near you check it out. It’s cheaper than regular brands (98p per large tin) and easy to find a brand without all the additives and a high coconut /water ratio . I find aroy-d the best in my local but not sure if available everywhere.

  24. I made this pretty much as soon as it was posted and I’m making it again tonight for friends (with a Madhur Jaffrey chickpea and potato curry, rice, naans and salad, vegan coconut chocolate mousse for dessert). This is a lovely curry!

  25. Can you freeze it? Due to language differences I got 3lbs of mushrooms from the grocery so need to use up quick. Will dry some as per your left over veg list but would be good to cook something to freeze.

    • The mushroom bolognese freezes well, froze it in a lasagne too so think this would freeze ok x

  26. Trying this soon, beginning of next week I hope. The world needs to eat less meat, that’s for sure. Watched a program on all things Fungi on BBC4 once, amazing how important fungus is to life. Jamie Oliver says Italian tinned whole Tomatoes are higher grade than chopped, not sure if this true, Jamie wouldn’t lie would he? I hope not .Also some mushrooms are free at certain times, pick the right ones though. Fantastic post, fantastic blog. Now have your book from the Library AGCJ. Aubergine Curry is also on my horizon. Maximum Respect.

  27. We made this tonight and LOVE IT!! Thanks Jack for another winner to add to the after-work-after-school-tired-but-hungry repertoire. 🙂 x

  28. Hi

    I have been cooking this a lot of the past 2 years of being vegetarian. I was wondering as I finally have a new freezer now, can this be saved in freezer at all?

  29. I’ve made this in batches and frozen them. They don’t stay frozen for long! I tend to add more spices than the recipe states but I guess everyone finds the level to their taste. Great recipe – thoroughly enjoy it!

  30. This was amazing! Thank you so much for the recipe. I will be definitely trying some of your other vegan recipes very soon. Thanks again!

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