Carrots make some of the best accompaniments to Indian food that can be imagined. Their natural sweetness compliments the sourness of curries and they can take on flavours without losing their own identity. Think of the popular carrot and coriander soup from the 1980s. Coriander is a strong flavoured herb and yet the carrot taste is still unmistakeable.
This curry emphasises the sweet-sourness with the addition of palm sugar and vinegar. I have sometimes taken this to an extreme and produced a curry that is getting pretty close to a pickle – feel free to experiment with more vinegar here if you wish, adding it later in the cooking stage.
Cut the onion in half. Slice one half thinly and put the other half in a blender with garlic and ginger. Whizz it until you have a puree. You might need to add a little water just to help the process, but only a little!
Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and put in the pulped onion mixture – cook slowly until just turning colour and all the moisture has evaporated.
Add the whole panch puran and the ground coriander. Stir for a couple of minutes.
Add the carrots and the sliced onion, plus the chillies if you want it hot. Cook for ten minutes, stirring frequently to make sure it does not burn.
Add the lemon juice, vinegar and palm sugar, turn the heat down a little and stir. If your carrots are not wonderfully fresh, you may need to add a small amount of water. Keep cooking, stirring occasionally till the carrots are cooked and most of the liquid has gone. Don't cook to soft, a nice bite to the carrots makes this dish much nicer.
Add the peas (put frozen ones straight in, fresh peas should be blanched first) and cook for a couple of minutes more.
Check the seasoning and add salt if needed.
Add the chopped coriander leaf, stir for a couple of minutes and serve.
If you want to make more of a pickle of it, leave the peas out and add more vinegar at that stage. Cook for a little while longer on a low heat – taste and add more palm sugar if needed. If you don't have palm sugar, use demerara or brown caster sugar – whatever you have!