A light, fragrant, flavoursome curry - a perfect winging it recipe, try tasting as you go and experimenting with different spices. Recipe from Nick Wilkinson, the winging it chef.


Brown Basmati rice

1 tin coconut milk

1 tin chick peas

1 mid size aubergine

1 brown onion

Clove garlic

Fresh coriander leaf

Papaya and lime (optional)

Whatever indian-y spices you have (turmeric, cumin, coriander, chilli, fenugreek, garam masala etc)

Secret ingredient – miso – Japanese fermented soy product


  1. If you're using whole spices, toast them in a frying pan and then crush in pestle and mortar.
  2. Dice the onion and the aubergine. 
  3. Warm quite a lot of oil in a big frying pan (e.g. about 75ml). Warm a little (e.g. tbsp) oil in a small frying pan]. 
  4. When the frying pans are hot, add the aubergine to the one with lots of oil and the onion to the less oil pan – add one chunk first to check for the sizzle that says the pan is hot enough.
  5. Fry onions and aubergines until softened and slightly browned, stirring regularly (about 5-8 mins for the onions, about 10-15 mins for the aubergines). 
  6. Crush and chop the garlic clove and add onions and garlic to the pan with the aubergines.
  7. Sprinkle in a cornucopia of your chosen salt, seasoning and spices. Be gentle and taste as you go! Once you achieve a good flavour and balance, halve the papaya and scoop the seeds into the pan. 
  8. Fry a little more to cook in the flavours, then add the coconut milk and simmer for a while to reduce. 
  9. Taste - the coconut milk will blunt the spices a little so you may want to add a little more. I love to add a little miso (e.g. 1-2tsp) at this stage – try it out! Reduce until you reach a consistency that works for you. Cut the papaya flesh into chunks and squeeze lime juice on top. 

Brown basmati rice

  1. Measure your rice by volume when it is dry (about 30g per person is usually plenty). Wash it two or three time in cold water and drain thoroughly. 
  2. Pop the rice in a thick bottomed pan with a good lid.  Add 2 parts water to 1 part dry rice (e.g. 150ml rice, 300ml water). If the rice is still quite wet from the washing, use a bit less water to compensate. 
  3. Lid on the pan, and bring to the boil on high heat, then turn down to simmer. Cook for 40-45 mins ish, until all the water has evaporated. You can tip up the pan to see if there is any water left in the bottom – but DO NOT STIR. When ready, you can turn it off and leave it until everything else is ready – it will stay hot for quite a while with the lid on.

Advice from Nick Wilkinson (chef): 'Experiment at home, branch out, and use up what you have knocking about. Before you chuck something away, think about whether it could be used somewhere. Just remember, when winging it go easy on the seasoning and spices, and taste as you go. If you're not sure it's gonna work out, try out with a little bit first.'

Winging it mantras:

  1. You can always add more but you can't take it out!!
  2. Taste, taste, taste as you cook.

This recipe is from the Taste Not Waste cookery class, part of the Zero Waste Kitchen Challenge project in Swadlincote. The theme was 'winging it', so the recipe is a pretty rough guide.