OK…so don’t burn me at the stake for saying this…but sometimes, I dread coming home from work. And no it’s not because I hate downtime as much as Bieber hates sentences that contain more than 5 words (Google: “Justin Bieber deposition”…proceed to lose hope for humanity). But there’s a point when you’re walking home, and you’re super pumped to get all this stuff done, but the moment you get into your room, you just collapse in a heaping pile of numbness and the only cure is to watch an hour’s worth of YouTube videos (currently watching: Wong Fu Productions and house dance battles). I mean…what happened to all that motivation I had from lunch onwards?!
And so here I was realizing it was now 11 PM and even though I had gotten out of work 3 hours ago, I have yet to cook dinner or do anything productive. And so I crawled back out of bed, pulled out the trusty wok, and stared at the pile of vegetables in front of me thinking: “why in God’s name did I give up meat?”. With 30 mins. remaining before my brain would shut off from sleep deprivation, I had to pick a recipe that would not only be quick, but also pack more flavor than that limp, over-dressed salad at the corner deli store. Enter the Indian-style vegetable curry. Of all the world’s cuisines, it is of my opinion that Indian is the only one that can pull off vegetarian dishes that make me want to reconsider my relationship with steak.
So you’re reading this thinking: “Damn…I gave up meat for Lent too!” or if you’re an Accountant: “Food. Mouth. Now”. Well read onwards O Weary One.
Feeds one lonely auditor…3 times over.
*Note: The vegetables below are just a guide…get creative and use your favorites!
1/2 a head of cauliflower
1 large red potato, cut into large cubes
3 – 4 carrots, cut into chunks (alternatively, toss half a bag of those baby carrots [which are really large carrots cut into that shape…I know right?!])
1/2 a bag/box of frozen green peas
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
2 large tomatoes, diced (or a can of tomato sauce)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 a block of soft tofu, cubed (opt. But with meat gone from my diet, I need all the protein I could get)
A few strands of saffron
2 tsps. of cumin
1 tbsp. of cloves
2 tbsps. coriander
1 tbsp. cayenne/paprika
3 – 4 bay leaves
Salt & pepper
1 medium knob of ginger, finely sliced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 a red onion, minced
1/2 – 3/4 cup of coconut milk or heavy cream (though I used organic skim milk to decrease the fat content)
A quick note. This curry is obviously not of an “authentic” recipe. But keep in mind we’re going for nutrition, speed, flavor here. I’ll put up an authentic, hand-ground, tastes like Kerala curry some day. The steps fall into two major parts: creating the base of flavor and cooking the vegetables. Here we go:
1) Heat some oil on high in a wok or heavy pan. Toss in the garlic, onion, and ginger and saute for a minute or so.
2) Toss in all your spices except the salt & pepper and stir well so you form a thick paste. This forms the foundation of what will flavor your dish.
3) Begin adding in your vegetables from “hard” to “soft” (ie. start w/ the carrots, potatoes, etc. and end with the mushrooms and peas). Saute each for 2 mins. (longer for the harder vegetables).
4) Once you’ve reached the softest of your vegetables, season w/ salt & pepper and stir in your tomato sauce (you would’ve put your fresh tomatoes in earlier if you opted to go that route). Cook for 2 mins.
5) Pour in the milk to dilute the tomato sauce. The milk should go about halfway up the vegetables so if it doesn’t, add more milk or water. Remember to season again w/ salt & pepper. Turn heat to medium and leave on a low boil for 10 minutes or so until the hardest veggies are at desired softness.
6) Right at the very end, add the lemon juice, tofu, and any spices you think are lacking.
Serve over basmati rice and try to forget the urge to buy the next questionable street meat dish you pass by.