You’re probably familiar with Meat Free Monday – every week people across the globe start the week meat-less, for the sake of their own health and that of the planet. Although an admirable initiative it’s really only a small step forwards in reducing our reliance on meat. So how much meat do I eat? After gradually reducing the meat in my diet my goal is for 5 days a week to be meat free. This inevitably impacts my husband, as I do most of the meal planning. After being raised in a strict Indian vegetarian household he rebelled and soon turned into a meat lover. But thankfully he’s with me on my ‘meat as a treat’ journey.
Speaking of India I read today that there’s over 600 million vegetarians in India. With such mouth-watering food on offer vegetarian Indians probably don’t even think about meat. If I could work such magic with vegetables and spices I too would happily choose a vegetarian curry, dal or biryani over a fillet steak or pork chop.
That’s why I’m turning my experimentation in the kitchen to Indian vegetable dishes. Here, in the first of what I hope to be a series of posts, I’m sharing a simple curry – chana masala. It comes direct from my favourite Indian cookbook – Rick Stein’s India, with just a few tweaks here and there, like adding eggplant.
- 200g dried chickpeas (soaked overnight in water) or 400g tinned chickpeas
- 250 ml chickpea ‘juice’
- 1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 1 small eggplant/aubergine, cubed
- 25g garlic (around 5 cloves)
- 25g ginger
- 2-3 green or red chillies
- 2 tsp salt
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 400g tin of tomatoes
- Fresh coriander
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp garam masala
Tip – If you have time (and enough spices) make your own garam masala spice blend – it last for weeks and is so much fresher than anything store bought.
- For tinned chickpeas simply open the tin and drain the chickpeas. Be sure to keep the water in the tin – the chickpea juice. For dried chickpeas drain them from the soaking water, and add to a pan of boiling water. Cook for 30 minutes or so until soft, then drain and reserve 250ml of the cooking water – the chickpea juice.
- Heat the ghee or oil in a pan over a medium heat, then cook the onion for 10-15 minutes until soft.
- Pound the garlic, ginger and chillies in a pestle and mortar – or blitz into a paste with a hand blender.
- Add the garlic/ginger/chilli paste to the pan once the onions are soft and cook for one minute.
- Then add the cumin, coriander and turmeric and fry for another 30 seconds.
- Stir in the tomatoes, salt and chickpea juice. Also add the cubed eggplant. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the chickpeas and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Before serving stir through the garam masala and lemon juice.
Variations – add spinach or sweet potato in place of the eggplant.
You may also like:
- Dhokla with curry leaves & mustard seeds
- Garam Masala – Indian spice blend
- Mango chutney/pickle – Indian style
- Cauliflower – whole roasted with Indian spices