We had the absolute pleasure of catching up with vegan curry supremo Grace Regan who is behind the acclaimed Spicebox restaurant in London.
Grace and Spicebox have been on quite a journey over the last few years. The one-time tech startup founder in California went on to launch Spicebox as a street food brand at Kerb (the streetfood markets) as well as a being a regular on the festival catering circuit.
The next step was to venture into permanent premises in Walthamstow (often very tricky for most transitioning from pop up to restaurant) and before long, Spicebox won a number of plaudits including Best Takeaway in East London.
Next up was the delicious publication of her highly rated cookbook Spicebox and with more permanent sites in the pipeline, the brand is going to move from strength to strength.
Grace has shared a few of her most popular recipes below…lucky us.
Coconut & Cashew Korma
120g cashew nuts, plus a few to garnish
½ large butternut squash, cut into 2.5cm chunks
3 tbsp veg oil, plus extra for roasting the squash
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 cardamom pods, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 medium white onion, sliced into half-moons
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
a thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
1 green chilli, slit lengthways
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sugar
1 × 400ml tin of coconut milk
100g green beans, topped and cut in half
a handful of frozen peas
1½ limes, 1 quartered, to garnish
How To Make
Cover the cashews with cold water and soak for a minimum of 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Place the squash in a roasting tin, drizzle with veg oil and season with salt. Combine with a wooden spoon so the chunks get evenly coated. Roast for 30–40 minutes, until the flesh, is soft and the skin is golden brown.
Set aside until ready to use.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat and add the cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom pods and bay leaves. Fry until the seeds are golden and the spices have become aromatic. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon of salt and turn the heat down low to cook the onion slowly. Once the onion is softened – after approximately 5 minutes – add the garlic, ginger, chilli and fenugreek seeds, and cook until the onion is completely soft and caramelised (approximately 10 – 15 minutes)
Turn the heat up and add the broccoli, turmeric and sugar, followed by a pinch of salt. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes until the broccoli is well coated with the onion mix and then pour in the coconut milk. Turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the broccoli is cooked through but still has some bite.
While the broccoli cooks, make the cashew cream. Drain the cashews and tip into a blender. Pour in 80ml cold water and blitz until a smooth cream is formed. Add the cream to the pan, along with the roasted squash and the green beans, and cover the pan with a lid.
While the beans cook, heat a small, dry frying pan on a medium heat and toast the leftover cashews until golden brown. Set these aside.
Add the frozen peas and allow them to cook through, then take the pan off the heat and stir through the juice of ½ lime. Taste for seasoning.
Serve in a bowl, topped with the toasted cashews and a wedge of lime.
15 Minute One Pot Daal
200g split red lentils
2 tbsp veg oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 green chilli, slit lengthways
3 garlic cloves, crushed with the side of your knife
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely diced
1⁄2 white onion, sliced into half-moons
2 tomatoes, roughly diced
800ml boiling water
1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
A pinch of chilli flakes, to garnish
1 tbsp coconut yoghurt, to garnish
How To Make
Rinse the lentils by putting them in a bowl, covering with cold water and then gently swirling them around with your hands. The water will turn cloudy, drain and repeat at least three times until the water is clear.
Place a saucepan on a medium heat and add oil. When it’s hot, add cumin seeds, green chilli, garlic and ginger, and fry for a few minutes until everything is golden and smelling delicious. Now add the onion, tomatoes and 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt and stir.
Add the lentils to the saucepan, followed by the boiling water and the turmeric. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10–15 minutes until the lentils are soft but still have a bit of bite to them. Once the dhal is cooked season to taste.
Serve topped with the chilli flakes and a spoonful of coconut yoghurt. If I have some toasted nuts or seeds lying around, I often add these too for texture.
Recipes taken from Spicebox 100 Fresh, Vegan Curry House Favourites by Grace Regan, (Ebury Press)
Photography by Joff Lee and James Lee
If you would like to find our more about Spice Box click here.