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Curry from the cupboard

Updated on April 30, 2015

A meat free curry recipe for when there's nothing to cook

I love to serve fresh foods but there's a problem. I hate grocery shopping. I truly can't stand it.

This means that sometimes I look in the fridge and despair! There are other times when I want to make a really quick dinner without all that peeling and chopping, so I keep a variety of canned foods and dry goods that mean that I can make dinner in minutes. And curry is ideal - and quick.In fact, this one doesn't take much longer than calling for a pizza delivery.

And yet it's much (much!) cheaper than a takeout and much better for us too. Every time I'm at the supermarket, I buy an extra item - something I don't need for immediate use. This way, I always have plenty of food in hand for those times when there's 'nothing for dinner.'

What you need


I used:

  • Jar of ready-prepared korma sauce(I use lots of different ones, korma just happened to be the one nearest on the shelf.)
  • Can potatoes
  • Can chick peas
  • Can Carnation milk(My secret curry ingredient)

To make

It's hardly necessary to tell you how to make this delicious curry because it's simplicity itself.

  • The recipes that are on the jar of sauce tend to require simmering for fifteen or twenty minutes. That's because they invariably contain chicken. But the sauce only needs to be heated up to boiling point and then lowered to a simmer.
  • While the sauce is heating up, drain and rinse the potatoes. Then add to the pot. Do the same with the chickpeas.
  • At this point, I often add frozen peas to the pot too. This is because Indian food often uses peas and also because they add color and a green vegetable. I don't find canned peas to be as good as frozen.
  • Add the milk from the can. This is optional but gives the curry an extra creaminess. This tip was given to me by an Indian chef.
  • Note that often, I'll add something fresh too. Last night it was a chopped apple. I love to add fruit to curries - my favorites are mango and banana.
  • As soon as everything is heated through, you're done!

To serve


Indian meals aren't complete without Indian bread. I like the vacuum packs of genuine Indian chapattis and naan, because they keep for ages. But above, you can see a good substitute.

Heat a frying pan over a high heat. Add a flour tortilla and press down with a spatula. The tortilla will puff up. This only takes a few seconds.

Flip, and do the same with the other side.


If you're making several of these 'fake chapattis', keep the ones that you've already cooked in a damp dish towel. This will keep them soft and pliable. You can use sheets of paper towel which have been lightly sprinkled with water. This has the same effect.


If you like to serve rice with your curries (I don't as a rule - just the bread) then look out for good quality canned rice. Once you have this in your store cupboard, you have a multitude of dinner ideas.


I love the taste of fresh cilantro and it looks so lovely as a garnish. I also serve mango chutney which keeps forever in the store cupboard until opened and then nearly forever in the fridge - or would if we didn't eat it so often!

Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian: More Than 650 Meatless Recipes from Around the World
Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian: More Than 650 Meatless Recipes from Around the World

As you work your way through my recipes (and I do hope you will) you'll see this book cropping up on quite a few of them.

That's because if I had to choose just one recipe book to take to a desert island with me (assuming that the island would be lavishly equipped with a wonderful kitchen and plentiful ingredients) this is the one I'd take. The recipes are sourced from all around the world and even though I've owned copy for years, and use it very regularly, I still haven't tried every dish. That's just how comprehensive this wonderful volume is.


Store cupboard meals are great for when...

  • Your refrigerator is empty.
  • You just don't have the time to cook a proper meal
  • You have no electricity - this can be cooked on a one ring camping stove
  • You don't want to do lots of dishes - you need just one pan.
  • You're camping on in the RV
  • You want something healthier and cheaper than a takeout pizza
  • You want to fool your family that you prepare homemade meals every day!

Canned foods and their benefits

Nutritionists agree that today, there is little if any nutritional difference between canned and fresh foods.

Some canned vegetables can be high in sodium however so with foods like potatoes and chickpeas, it's a good idea to rinse them after draining well before you add them to the pot.

With prepared items, I tend to look at the ingredients. I use two different brands of curry sauce and both are delicious. (As someone who lived in the 'curry capital' of England, I'm an expert!)

However, one brand is slightly better than the other when it comes to the ingredients used.Of course, the huge advantage is that they will safely store in your kitchen for a long time. For example, before I cooked dinner last night - the meal you see above - I checked the cans for the 'use before' dates.

They are:

The bottled sauces - one year and eight months from now

Chick peas - five years from now

Potatoes - two and a half years from now

Canned and bottled foods can be more expensive of course, but bear in mind how much electricity I would have to use to cook chickpeas; they can take up to three hours.

Then there's boiling potatoes and making the sauce from scratch. All these things use electricity, create dirty pots (requiring hot water to clean) and of course my time. Because of their long shelf life, these foods can be bought online too, which is a great time saver and you'll not be using gasoline to go to the store.

Because canned and bottled foods don't need to be refrigerated, they are useful to have in stock in case of a power outage. Many people are astonished by the small size of our fridge and it's size makes it cheap to run. That's because we have some meals which are from our pantry rather than the fridge.I also like to use products that come in glass jars. I save them for a multitude of different uses.

Further reading

Many people today are interested in a vegetarian diet - or at least, eating less meat.

I remember the days when it was normally teenagers who decided that meat wasn't for them but today, this doesn't apply and people of all ages are looking for meat-free meal inspiration.

Buy supplies online

It's not always easy to buy the foods you need in your local supermarket or grocery store. Several years ago, we found the solution and began to order online. Then, our local stores upped their game and we were able to purchase some of our favorite food locally 0 but guess what? They are actually cheaper online in many cases!

I have three options when serving curry. I can spend a lot of time making my own flatbreads - but I haven't done that for years because it can be time consuming (and messy). The other alternative is to use commercially made tortillas - this is a fairly good solution especially when I'm in a hurry. But the absolute best way is to serve authentic and tasty breads that can be ordered online.


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    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Susan300 - thanks for dropping by!

    • Susan300 profile image


      4 years ago

      Sounds yummy. I want to try this. (And I did *not* know rice came in cans! I'll have to look for that, too.)


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