York’s zen cook FLORENCIA CLIFFORD suggests a sunny, meat-free curry.

IN January we should be cooking healthy and colourful food, invoking sunshine through our dishes, but with the awareness that we need energy to endure the cold weather.

Although I am an advocate of seasonal produce, it all goes out of the window during the first few months of the year as all I want is fresh vegetables and fruits and there is not much left in my allotment.

A good approach to healthier eating is to cut down on meat and increase the number of vegetarian dishes in our weekly menu plan.

A recent trip to India made me fall in love with Keralan food and one of the dishes that I had to learn to make was fresh pineapple curry.

Spicy and sweet, it held the key to the exotic, evoking centuries of spice-trade obsession, and tasted like a tropical sunset beach in each mouthful. You can get semi-ripe pineapples for this dish or even use green bananas instead.

The secret is in the spice mix. Another advantage is that it cooks in minutes.

3 Elephants Keralan Pineapple Curry

Serves 4


Three tablespoons of coconut oil or sunflower oil
1 medium onion, chopped.
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
1 green chilli
1 heaped teaspoon of turmeric powder
A handful of fresh curry leaves (or dried ones)
A small pineapple, chopped in cubes
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
Half a cup of water
200 ml coconut milk
300 ml low fat natural yogurt
Sea salt


In a medium casserole pan, heat up the oil and fry the onions, garlic and ginger for a minute or two, then add the rest of the spices followed by the pineapple and fresh curry leaves.

After a few minutes stirring on medium heat, add the turmeric and fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the water and simmer for three to four minutes.

Add the coconut milk and yogurt and cook for a further five minutes. Adjust seasoning.

Leave it to rest for as long as you can as flavours will intensify with time.

For added protein, you can toast a handful of raw cashew nuts and sprinkle them on the curry before you serve it.

Serve hot with basmati rice, a couple of chapattis and a simple green salad with some fresh coriander leaves.


• Cook’s note: The best places to buy fresh whole spices in York are Alligator Wholefoods in Fishergate, or Rafi’s Spicebox in Goodramgate.