Southern black pepper curry

Southern black pepper curry

Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast
Emma Lee

This is a really lovely black pepper and fennel-flecked sauce, reminiscent of the spicy food of South India, where black pepper is the king of spices. I have used it here as a base for cooking dried soya chunks. This is one ingredient that you either love or don’t! It is a derivative of the soya bean and is full of protein. I love soya in its many guises and enjoy the slightly chewy texture of these chunks but, if you don’t, you can replace it with 250 g of paneer or a couple of 400 g cans of chickpeas. Serve with roti, paratha, or even buttered toast.


Quantity Ingredient
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons freshly crushed black pepper, or to taste
10 fresh curry leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, quartered
25g root ginger, grated, (peeled weight)
5 large garlic cloves, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon tomato puree
100g soya chunks, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes


  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan, then add the fennel seeds and half the black pepper and cook until the fennel is starting to colour. Add the curry leaves and cook for another few seconds. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown. Meanwhile, using a stick blender, blend the tomatoes until smooth.
  2. Add the ginger and garlic to the cooked onion and gently sauté until the garlic smells cooked, around one minute. Pour in the tomatoes along with the ground spices, salt and tomato purée. Cook this down until it releases oil back into the pan; it will probably be quite thick.
  3. Squeeze the water out of the soaking soya, add to the pan and cook for a minute or two. Add enough water to nearly cover the chunks. Bring to the boil and simmer until the chunks are soft but still chewy, around four to five minutes. By now the sauce should have reduced.
  4. Add the remaining black pepper, taste, adjust the seasoning and serve. The sauce should cling to the soya chunks.
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