Physalis, that tiny paper covered cousin of the tomato is back. If you like a tart little treat you’ll be relishing them just as they are, minus their papery cases (that goes without saying) but if you’re like me, you’ll be looking at them, sitting there looking more than reminiscent of their Mexican cousin the tomatillo, thinking they must have so much more to offer other than the traditional pies and flans. And as there’s nothing like putting a good theory to the test, that’s just what I did.
Rich in vitamin A, C and B vitamins there are numerous reasons to include these high fibre central American natives into your diet. But sadly, not so many non-jam or cake related recipes. And looking at my fruit bowl that cake\ pie role is definitely taken this week and probably next by literally bags full of apples and pears. As my children can’t eat a physalis as they come without puckering up like they’ve been caught sucking lemons, I thought I’d break free from that jam/ cake combo and try and use that tang in something savoury. Working on how well the tomatillo pairs up with chilli and fresh tasting herbs I gave a curry a go. I love the edge adding fruit to a savory dish produces especially at this time of year when comfort food should be moving further and further up all of our menus but if you remain unconvinced (unlikely I’m sure) then this is the recipe to try. The physalis added an autumnal almost sweet and sour note but as in the beef and blackberry stew recipe, would only become conspicuous by its absence. Honestly.
Chick Pea and Physalis Curry Recipe
2 white onions (sliced)
150g physalis (paper skins removed and cut in half)
1 – 2 red chillis (depending on how hot you want it)
2 cms of freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp fenugreek
1 tsp coriander seed
2 tsp turmeric
4 cloves garlic
3 white potatoes (peeled and roughly diced)
4 medium tomatoes (roughly diced)
500 ml good quality veg stock
50g creamed coconut
Fresh coriander to serve
Start by crushing your garlic and leaving it to one side, then grinding your ginger, cumin, coriander, mustard and fenugreek together in a pestle and mortar.
Slice the onions and fry them lightly in a splash of oil for around five minutes. Toss in spices and carry on cooking for another couple of minutes or until they get nice and fragrant.
Add the chill and garlic and move them around in the hot oil for another minute too.
Next add the physalis, potato and tomato to the pan along with the stock and bring to the boil.
Stir through the spinach and coconut then let simmer for 15 mins or so until the potatoes are cooked through.
Serve sprinkled with fresh chopped coriander alongside some basmati rice and a few chapatis.