Simply the best Indian-style curry ever

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Here it is, folks. The easiest, tastiest Indian-style curry I’ve ever tasted. It’s tasty, spicy, comforting, filling and super affordable with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. You’ll have curry in 30 minutes from start to finish. Let’s go!!

Ingredients

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4 potatoes – cubed and boiled until tender

2 Tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil

1 onion diced

3 – 4 cloves garlic minced

2 tsps cumin

1 ½ tsps cayenne pepper (or less – this amount makes quite a hot dish)

4 tsps curry powder

4 tsps garam masala

1 inch piece of ginger root peeled and grated (about 1 tablespoon)

1 ½ tsp salt

1 (14 oz or 397 ml) can diced tomatoes

1 (145 oz or 397ml) can chickpeas drained and rinsed (1 ½ cups if you’re cooking from scratch)

1 cup frozen or fresh peas

1(14oz or 397 ml) can coconut milk

Directions

In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and sauté on medium heat until the onion is translucent.

While the onion, garlic and ginger cook, measure all the dry spices out into a small bowl or cup. You really want these ready to go so don’t skip this step.

Add all the spices and stir with the onion, garlic and ginger to heat through for about 1 minute.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring everything to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and simmer together for 10 minutes.

Serve over rice or with naan or chapatti or roti.

See? Easy. Enjoy!!

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Massaman Curry – all the flavour without the heat

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Esther the Wonder Pig’s executive chef (Yeah, I know right? She has her own chef!) recently posted a recipe for Massaman curry. I had never heard of this dish – a fragrant, comforting, delicious stew originating in the Malaysian peninsula. While Esther is a pig of delicate tastes, I like my foods spicy and flavourful. We both agree that Massaman curry is best made vegan.

This curry is very straightforward to make and in less than 1 hour – from start to finish – you will be sitting down to a restaurant-worthy meal.

Do not let the long list of ingredients daunt you. You probably have most of the ingredients already on hand.

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Ingredients

1 pound yellow potatoes (about 2-3 potatoes), washed, unpeeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 small onion cut into 6 pieces

3 carrots cut into coins

3 cloves garlic minced

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

2 Tbsp Chinese 5-spice powder

I Tbsp red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

1 piece of star anise

¼ tsp cumin

¼ tsp cardamom

1/8 tsp cloves

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

400 ml (13 oz) can coconut milk

2/3 cup vegetable broth

½ Tbsp maple syrup (or brown sugar)

¼ cup peanut butter (please only use the kind that is just peanuts and oil – no brands full of added sugar and chemical brands)

½ cup whole, unsalted peanuts

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Directions

In a medium sized pot, heat the oil. Sauté the ginger, garlic, 5-spice powder, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cardamom, cloves and cumin to heat the spices through (this step helps release the flavours).

Add the broth, salt, coconut milk, star anise, maple syrup (or brown sugar) and curry paste. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, carrots and onions and reduce to a simmer.

Simmer covered for about 20 minutes. You want the potatoes to be cooked through.

Fish out the piece of star anise; it’s done its work.

Add the peanut butter and peanuts and stir until the peanut butter is combined. You will have a thick, creamy sauce.

Serve on brown, basmati or jasmine rice. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

My big fat vegan moussaka

moussaka

So we’re turning the clocks back an hour this weekend. What are you going to do with this extra time?? Make vegan moussaka!! This dish is made up of layers of roasted eggplant, potato and zucchini in a lightly cinnamon-scented tomato sauce and a creamy “béchamel” topping. It’s all comforting and delicious without being heavy.

This isn’t a difficult recipe, but there is a time commitment of about 90 minutes from start to finish. It’s worth it though!

You can make this dish the day before, right up to the baking stage.

This recipe is heavily based on Isa Chandra’s recipe. She must have a large food budget because she recommends some rather costly ingredients such as pine nuts instead of ground almonds in the béchamel. I’ll bet that’s lovely, but since I still have a mortgage, I went with more affordable ingredients throughout.

You will need a food processor or sturdy blender for to make the béchamel sauce.

Ingredients

For the vegetable layer

1 large eggplant

3 large white potatoes

1 very large or 2 average-sized zucchinis

Enough olive oil to oil 3 cookie sheets

For the sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

1 small onion diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup vegetable broth or red wine

23 oz jar or 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (I use Italian crushed tomatoes that come in a jar – the taste is far superior for the extra dollar it costs).

2 teaspoons oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Bechamel topping

A 12 oz block of tofu

½ cup ground almonds

3 Tablespoons lemon juice (about ½ of a juicy lemon)

1 teaspoon arrowroot powder or tapioca powder

1 clove garlic

pinch nutmeg

1 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

pepper to taste

Other ingredients

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Enough oil to oil a 9”x13” baking or casserole dish

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Directions

Preheat the oven to 400. Lightly oil three baking sheets or shallow pans.

Roast the vegetables

Trim the stems from the eggplant and zucchini(s). Remove any eyes from the potatoes, but there’s no need to peel them. Slice the eggplant, zucchini and potato, lengthwise, into approximately 1/4 inch thick slices. Rub the eggplant slices with a little salt and set aside in a colander in the sink or in a big bowl for about 15 minutes to soften and sweat (yes, you will see the eggplant sweating!). The salt helps lift out any bitter taste in the eggplant. Lightly rinse off the eggplant after it’s had time to sweat.

Use a separate baking sheet for each type of vegetable. Spread the vegetable slices out in a single layer. Give the potatoes and zucchini a light sprinkle of salt.

Roast the zucchini and eggplant for 15 minutes and the potatoes for 20. Remove from the oven and allow the vegetables to cool.

Leave the oven on!

While the vegetables are roasting make the sauce.

Add the ¼ cup olive oil to a large pot and heat on medium high. Sauté the onion and garlic until they are translucent. Add the other ingredients and bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and set the pot of sauce aside.

Make the béchamel sauce

Add all the ingredients to a food processor or strong blender. Blend until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. I add up to ½ cup of water as I’m blending to get a creamier sauce… it really depends on the tofu you use.

Assemble and bake

Oil a 9 x 13 pan. Spread a big spoonful of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan. Layer in the eggplant, then the potato, then a thin layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle with half the bread crumbs. Add the layer of zucchini. Add the next layer of eggplant and potatoes and the remainder of the breadcrumbs. Layer the remainder of the tomato sauce over it all. Then spread the béchamel sauce as the top layer and smooth it out. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and it’s formed a few cracks. Allow the dish to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Moroccan stew – the warmth of the sun in a bowl.

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When I make this stew, I find myself saying “redolent” over and over as in “this stew is redolent of a sunlit Moroccan bazaar.” It’s not the prettiest dish, but there’s nothing else like it when you want something rich, warmly spiced and satisfying.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil or vegan margarine

1 onion chopped

1 cup shredded kale or spinach (optional)

4 ½ cups vegetable broth

1 cup of cooked chickpeas

1 cup of diced canned tomatoes

2 medium potatoes peeled and diced

1 sweet potato peeled and diced

2 carrots diced

½ cup dried red lentils

1/3 cup dried apricots chopped

1/3 cup wheat bulgur (optional – to help thicken the dish)

Spice mixture – combine in a small cup or bowl

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground turmeric

¼ tsp curry powder

Directions

Heat the oil or margarine in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is softened. Add the spice mixture and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add all the other ingredients except the kale or spinach. Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through. Stir in the kale/spinach and cook for another minute to let the greens wilt.

Serve up and enjoy!

This dish freezes well.

A vegan shepherd’s pie to die for… except no one actually does

ShepherdsPie

I have always loved shepherd’s pie. It’s a gorgeous, classic comfort food. Now here’s a version that’s just as delicious as the original AND vegan.

While the ingredients list and steps may seem long, I promise this is a simple recipe that will make you feel like a gourmet when it’s done.

My next door neighbour, a venerable German lady and an excellent cook, came by to sample the dish and declared it to be buttery and sinful. I couldn’t ask for higher praise.

Ingredients

For the mashed potatoes

4-5 potatoes. I use Yukon Gold or any white fleshed potato. Scrub them well, remove any eyes, all or some of the skin and then dice.

1 white turnip peeled and diced. Trust me on this – the turnip gives the buttery flavour to the potatoes.

3 Tbsp vegan margarine

1/3 to ½ cup unsweetened soy or almond milk

Salt and pepper to taste

For the filling

½ cup beluga (black) lentils or any kind of lentils except red lentils, which get mushy.

3 stalks celery sliced

1 small onion diced

2 carrots sliced

1 parsnip sliced (if you don’t like parsnips, then just go with 3 carrots)

2 cups mushrooms sliced (I used cremini)

½ cup green peas (I used frozen)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 ½ cups vegetable broth

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tsp fresh thyme (or go w/ dried if that is what you have, but use only ½ teaspoon)

1 Tsp fresh sage (or go w/ dried if that is what you have, but use only ½ teaspoon)

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (make sure your brand is vegan. I used Lea and Perrins)

A splash of red wine (about ¼ cup)

I Tbsp flour or arrowroot (for thickening the sauce)

1 tsp salt

Black pepper to taste

Directions

Boil the cubed potatoes and turnip together until they are soft. This takes about 15-20 minutes. Drain off the water. Add the margarine and milk and mash everything together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Put the lentils in a small pot with one cup of water. Put a lid on the pot and bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside.

In a large skillet or large pot (you want a wide based vessel), sauté the onion, celery, carrot and parsnip in the olive oil. Sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and sauté some more until the mushrooms have released their liquid.

Add the tomato paste, flour, wine and half the broth. Stir well so the flour and tomato paste are blended well in the broth. Add the remaining broth, thyme, sage, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, cooked lentils and peas and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer uncovered until the liquid has reduced by about half. This will take about 15 minutes.

When the filling is ready, pour it into a very large pie dish or other casserole dish. Top with the mashed potatoes and place under the broiler for 10 minutes until the potatoes are golden.

Dig in and enjoy!

My salad days

My salad days

It’s September 1st and the garden is bursting with goodies: yellow and green beans, savoy cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onion, green pepper, cucumber and tomatoes.

Summer is having a hot and steamy farewell this week so I opted for a quartet of salads for my dinner.

SaladDays

  1. Spicy Asian coleslaw (top of the plate)
  2. A creamy cucumber salad (on the right)
  3. A traditional bean salad (front and centre), and
  4. My mom’s potato salad (on the left).

Each recipe makes about 3-4 servings. Each salad is better after sitting overnight but you MUST let the bean salad sit overnight or you won’t get the full flavour effect.

Spicy Asian slaw

4 cups of green cabbage shredded or diced (that’s about 1/3 of a savoy cabbage)

1 carrot sliced or shredded

½ stalk celery sliced thinly

¼ of a large onion diced

¼ of a green pepper diced

2 Tbsp Vegeniase or other vegan mayo-type dressing

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp hot chili paste (I use sambal oelek)

About 2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and enjoy! I like this salad with roasted tofu too and a few chow mein noodles.

Note – if you have radishes they are great in this salad too and add pretty colour.

Creamy cucumber salad

About half of a large English cucumber. Do not peel. Cut into quarters and then slice.

1 green onion sliced – I use the white and green

1 tsp fresh dill or more to taste

A few grinds of black pepper

½ tsp salt

I Tbsp white vinegar

1 Tbsp Vegeniase or other vegan mayo-type dressing

Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy!

Traditional bean salad

¾ cup fresh beans

15 oz can of mixed beans (not bean salad) – drained and rinsed

¼ of a green pepper diced

½ of a large onion cut in half and then sliced in thin rings

½ stalk (or more) celery thinly sliced

¼ cup white vinegar

2 Tbsp olive oil (or good vegetable oil)

3 Tbsp sugar (use raw sugar, processed, white sugar may have been made with animal bone ash – ugh)

½ tsp salt or to taste

A few grinds of black pepper to taste

Cut the stem end of the beans off and put the beans in boiling water until they are cooked – about 5-10 minutes. Drain the beans and let them cool. When the beans have cooled, cut into 1” pieces and place in a bowl with all the other ingredients. Toss everything together and let marinate for a few hours or overnight. You really must let this salad marinate!

My mom’s potato salad

3 cups of boiled potatoes (I live the skin on), cooled and cut into bite-sized pieces

¼ of a large onion diced

1 stalk celery sliced thinly

1-2 dill pickles diced

1 ½ Tbsp olive oil or other good vegetable oil

2 Tbsp dill pickle juice (the brine from the jar)

3 Tbsp Vegeniase or other vegan mayo-type dressing

Salt and pepper to taste (careful on the salt – the pickle juice is already salty!)

In a large bowl toss the potatoes, onion, oil and pickle juice together until the potatoes and onion are coated. Add the remaining ingredients and toss together.

p.s. My mom would not be happy that I shared her recipe. She would be delighted that we’re all still gushing over her potato salad though.