Turkey, Aubergine & Chickpea Curry


I had a wonderful couple of days at my daughter Nicola’s over Christmas. I hope you had a good Christmas too! Arriving on Christmas Eve, I’d gone up to Birmingham quite early to try to avoid the Christmas rush on the M40. Nicola was busy cooking; Rachael was at work. I acted as sous chef when I could and had taken mince pies with me, panettone and that last-minute cake I put on the blog a few days ago. Rachael arrived home around 6 … her parents soon after … and it was then definitely champagne time! Nicola had cooked a delicious vegetable lasagna for our Eve supper and it was all a wonderful and happy start to the festivities.

Christmas morning, Figaro – Nicola’s cat – had left a (dead) vole on the kitchen floor for our Christmas present. The vole cleared away, we turned to happier things: breakfast! Elevenses and present opening were to come later when Jonathan and Lyndsey arrived, en route to north Wales. I can’t think of ‘elevenses’ without thinking of Paddington Bear who enjoyed marmalade sandwiches for elevenses with Mr Gruber, who owned an antique shop in Portobello Road. Paddington was such a big feature of my childhood (along with Pooh Bear) and I read the books over and over again and have never lost that little surge of warmth at the mention of ‘elevenses’ and thoughts of the little bear. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to see the new film; there’s a certain magic about favourite books that sometimes films just can’t reach.

Elevenses were nothing like Paddington’s; not a jar of marmalade in sight. It’s become a family tradition over many years to eat panettone with some good coffee on Christmas morning while we open presents. So the ‘Gales’ with the ‘Walkers’ did just that. As we had three amongst us who don’t like raisins in bread, I had bought not only a panettone but a pandoro, which seemed very in keeping with my recent post on Italian Christmas breads! The very delicious panettone came from Carluccio’s; the pandoro from Sapori TW1.


Those of us who do like raisins couldn’t resist some of the second bread – pandoro – too. It was really good! Lovely and thoughtful presents were exchanged. Jonathan and Lyndsey set off on the second part of their journey around 2.00 and then Nicola and Rachael finished the Christmas meal. Mothers were banned from the kitchen but given glasses of prosecco to keep us happy. The meal itself was fantastic. Janet and Colin had bought the turkey at a local farm shop and ‘the girls’ had cooked it to perfection: wonderfully moist and beautifully tasty, accompanied by delicious stuffings and vegetables. We all ate far too much, of course. We had to have a long gap before we tackled Christmas pudding, mince pies and brandy sauce.

Boxing Day morning I set off home with not just my presents but a container of leftover turkey. It had been a very large bird! And as Rachael is vegetarian (Nicola had made a special vegetarian main for her), the leftover turkey had to be shared. Today I decided to make a curry with it; a variation on the Aubergine, Tomato & Chickpea Curry I made last Christmas time. I had an aubergine in the fridge and I thought it would go well with the turkey in a curry. Tomatoes, fresh ginger, spices, garlic and coriander were gathered. I would make the base curry first, cook it and add the cooked turkey at the end.


In a large pan I gently fried 2 medium onions (cut with the grain into largish chunks) with 1 chopped clove garlic and a 5cm piece of fresh ginger cut into small shreds with a heaped tablespoon of coconut oil. If you don’t have coconut oil, use a couple of tablespoons ordinary oil (the coconut oil is usually solid so a heaped one is more like 2 tablespoons), but the coconut gives a nice flavour for the curry if you have it.


When that’s softening a bit, add the spices. I mixed ½ teaspoon chilli flakes, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon hot curry powder, 1 level teaspoons cumin seeds and 8 cardamon pods (crushed and seeds removed to use; cases thrown away) in a mortar and pestle. I crushed the seeds and mixed all well before adding to the onion mixture.


I stirred well and cook for a couple of minutes then added 1 aubergine which I’d cut in half short ways; then sliced each half lenghwise into 8 (making 16 pieces in total). I stirred well again to coat the pieces of aubergine and cooked for about 5 minutes to soften and colour very slightly.


Next I added 6 medium tomatoes, which I’d first skinned and chopped, and a drained tin (400g) chickpeas.


I stirred together well then added enough water to just cover it all. Then I added 50g creamed coconut (I recently discovered Barts do a pack with 4 x 50g sachets of creamed coconut). Also season with salt and some black pepper at this stage.


Mix the coconut in well, bring it all to the boil and immediately turn down to a simmer and leave for 30 minutes. Now add the leftover turkey cut into bite-sized pieces (I’m afraid I didn’t weigh my turkey but I guessed it was enough for 3-4 portions), the juice of ½ lemon and some chopped fresh coriander.


Stir well. Bring back to a simmer and then leave for about 10 minutes for the turkey to warm through and absorb the flavours. You don’t want to cook it for very long as it’s already cooked.


If you can, prepare it all well before mealtime – as I did – and then just heat through gently when you want to eat. Curries always taste better when made a bit in advance. I served mine with some basmati rice. Once I’d ladled some of the curry into a bowl, I added a little single cream for some extra decadence – but that’s optional! I also scattered over a little more chopped coriander.


It was really delicious! It’s quite a fresh-tasting curry because of the spices used and only a little curry powder added. The coconut adds a lovely creamy sweetness without being overpowering and the addition of the lemon juice just lightens it all up nicely. I love roast turkey but this is a great way to use up leftovers – and I have enough for another two or three portions to freeze for another evening!

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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