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Taking baby steps: Roasted vegetables with a hint of curry

Do you know any curry-phobes? I know a few people who had bad experiences with spicy dishes, and then avoided them for fear of literally being burned again. The solution to this problem is to find a recipe that delivers well-balanced layers and depth of flavour by using lots of spices, but making sure that the finished sauce isn't too hot for novice palates. You can always add more fire to yours, but you can't take it away for others. Keeping an emergency chutney, raita, lassi or stack of naan nearby never hurts, either.

I adore curry and it's saddening that friends and family are missing out on something that can be so beautiful, exciting, and easy to customize, so lately I have been practicing with spices and yogurts, learning how to combine them better, and introducing flavours of India and Thailand to dishes that are usually Plain Jane. Today we're going to roast vegetables using a basic recipe that anybody can make, and a level of spice that isn't too strong.

Roasted vegetables are great for winter. The oven heats your place up, everything smells good, and warm, caramelized vegetables on a chilly day are nothing to shake a stick at. Easy to mix with any flavour profile, these are addictive, stress-free, and can serve a lot of people, which makes them a star at holiday feasts. You can use any vegetables you like, including squash, turnips, garlic, or even beets.  The following recipe just used what I had on hand.

Oven-roasted curried vegetables
Serves 6 to 8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour or less

5 tbsp vegetable oil
1 generous pinch of each of the following:
garam masala
curry powder
ground coriander
chili pepper flakes (optional)

Today I used:
5 or 6 medium potatoes
4 medium carrots
1/4 head of cauliflower
2 onions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Chop vegetables into similar-sized pieces so they roast evenly, or, if you like some crunchier, cut them a little smaller (like potatoes), and some a bit larger if you want them to be softer (onions). Keep in mind that some types cook through faster than others, or caramelize more because of their sugar content.

Combine oil and spices in a large bowl. Add vegetables and toss to coat. If you have too much oil left over, cut up another potato and throw it in so the vegetables aren't greasy.

Spread vegetables out in a metal roasting pan or two, so they aren't in a crowded pile. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven, or until the hardest vegetable gives way to a knife. Halfway through baking, stir thoroughly, rotate pan(s), and switch racks, if necessary.

Season to taste if they need more salt or pepper.

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