Christmas Leftovers: A Very Quick and Easy Turkey Curry

I had a lovely three days celebrating Christmas at my daughter’s in Worcestershire and my son was there with his family as well, so it was all very special. It’s a bit of a cliché to say that children make a good Christmas, but with four little grandsons on hand, aged between one and nearly 7, it was a joyous time. Even the one year old – well one tomorrow – got caught up in the excited anticipation of Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve. A glass of whisky and a mince pie was left out for Santa, and carrots and some milk for his reindeer. My daughter lives in a 16th century farmhouse (surrounded by a working farm) and there’s a large inglenook fireplace in the sitting room, so any worries about Santa getting down the chimney are easily dispelled and the grown-ups didn’t have to come up with a story about how he magically shrinks to get in.

Freddie, the eldest, was full of questions though. Did Santa know he was at Auntie Nicola’s and not at home? We were clear that Santa wouldn’t come into the house if anyone was still awake. ‘But what if Tilly wakes up!’ he asked with concern. Tilly is their five-month-old puppy. ‘Santa won’t wake her up,’ we reassured him, ‘she’ll stay asleep.’

The filled stockings hanging from the top of the fireplace and presents under the tree on Christmas morning were greeted with with joy as the boys shouted, ‘He’s been. Santa came!’ Then rushing to the outside porch, they saw the milk had been drunk and the carrots eaten, so more happy shouts of, ‘The reindeer ate the carrots!’

It’s been a long family tradition that we eat panettone with our coffee as presents are exchanged and I’d taken up two gorgeous Loisin ones – classic and chocolate – which I’d bought in Corto Italian Deli. This is soon followed by another – newer – tradition when my daughter Nicola and son Jonathan take over the kitchen and cook the Christmas meal. A fabulous organic turkey had been bought from a local farm and was enjoyed with all the trimmings and excellent wine.

Come Boxing Day, my son was heading to his wife’s family in Wales, my daughter and wife were getting ready for a trip to family in the north of England tomorrow, and I headed back to London – with some leftover turkey! Leaving late morning, I was pleased to see that my phone’s satnav was estimating my journey time would be much as normal – just under two and a half hours. However, as I got going the ETA started going up and up, to such an extent I wondered if something had gone wrong with my phone. When I stopped at some services for a drive-through coffee, where normally I’d expect to have just another hour and a quarter’s drive, it was showing it would take me two and a half more hours. There wasn’t much difference in three options so I thought I’d stick to my usual route. I decided to buy a sandwich to go with my coffee; it looked like I’d arrive home way past lunchtime. Then fortuitously, when I’d finished eating and drinking, only a few minutes later, it all looked a lot more optimistic – clearly the effects of the accident (which I later passed) were improving. I ended up arriving home not a lot later than I originally expected.

I’d thought about what I might eat for supper on the way (I’d had a conversation with daughter-in-law Rachael only that morning, when she said their dog thought about food all the time, I said that food was pretty much what I thought about most of the time!). I’d had in mind that I’d make a curry with the turkey, but when it looked like a much longer journey with four or five hours’ driving, I decided that an easier option would be taking a pack of homemade Bolognese ragù from the freezer! But then I was home by mid afternoon. So I decided to make a very simple curry. Nothing fancy at all. But it would give me a chance to try out the new curry powder I’d bought from Seasoned Pioneers and it would be a welcome warming, comforting supper on a grey, damp day. I rarely make curries these days; long ago I was a fan of Madhur Jaffrey and often made more sophisticated Indian dishes. But this wasn’t that sort of day …

So this is what I did … really, it’s so simple should I even blog it! But I thought I’d tell you about my day and that you can whizz up a jolly good curry supper in under half an hour.

Quick and Easy Turkey Curry

  • 2 tablespoons coconut (or other vegetable) oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 x 400ml tin chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • leftover turkey (mine filled a 250ml container), chopped
  • basmati rice to serve

Melt the coconut oil in medium-sized saucepan. I always have some coconut oil and it’s great for curries, but otherwise use a mild vegetable oil.

Add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook until the vegetables are starting to soften. Add the curry powder, stir and cook for another couple of minutes. I used Seasoned Pioneers’ Organic Punjabi Masala curry powder, which is quite mild, but use whatever you have and prefer.


Add the chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir well. Bring to a simmer and let it bubble gently for 10 minutes. Then add the chopped turkey. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, adding a little water if the mixture is too dry.


Meanwhile cook some basmati rice. You might also like some green vegetables; I like spinach with curry but didn’t have some so took another easy route – peas!

For something so simple, so ‘thrown together at the last minute’, it really was a great success. It was delicious. Despite the ‘mild’ labelling of the curry powder, there was a definite little hot kick to it, which I like, and its warmth was a glorious welcome home after a lovely family Christmas. I also have enough left over – more leftovers! – for a couple of portions to freeze … so Christmas and its happy memories will stay with me a little longer.

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

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