I went through a phase as a teenager where I was obsessed with everything related to India. From requesting trips to Devon Avenue in Chicago to making my dad watch Lagaan with me (an epic Bollywood musical/drama/comedy/sports film about cricket that is almost 4 hours long…), I was utterly fascinated with the country. I still am to this day – though I haven’t subjected anyone to watching Lagaan with me in quite a while – and Indian cuisine is my absolute favorite food. Luckily it’s my husband’s favorite food too, so we eat it all the time.
Up until a couple of years ago, I viewed Indian food as something I could only get in a restaurant, believing I could never do it justice myself. But I’ve slowly started to experiment more with it, gaining confidence along the way and learning how to create my own Indian recipes from scratch. Once you realize the basics of Indian cooking and build up your collection of Indian spices, it doesn’t have to be daunting at all. If you’re new to Indian cooking, here are a few pointers:
- The base: the basis of so many Indian dishes is some sauteed onion, garlic and fresh ginger. It adds an incredible flavor to your dish, so you won’t want to skip any of these ingredients.
- The spices: don’t feel overwhelmed by the array of Indian spices out there – start with the basics. The spices I use in this recipe are all easily found in a variety of grocery stores (curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne). Others that I enjoy using include garam masala (a spice blend), ground coriander, and English mustard powder.
- The heat level: start with a little bit of heat (in the case of my recipe, cayenne pepper) and slowly add from there. A little goes a long way! There’s a misconception that all Indian food is extremely spicy, but many of my favorite Indian dishes are actually quite mild.
This dish – the easiest vegetarian curry, in my humble opinion – has been on an almost weekly rotation in my kitchen this winter. It ticks all of the boxes that I consider important for a weeknight meal: it comes together in about 30 minutes; a large portion of it is based on pantry/freezer staples that I usually have on hand; it’s got three servings of vegetables and plenty of protein; and the leftovers taste just as good. With cauliflower, peas, chopped tomatoes and chickpeas, this is a healthy and flavorful meal that keeps things interesting for a weeknight dinner without sacrificing too much time in the kitchen. It’s got a stew-like consistency that pairs wonderfully with either naan or rice, and it makes a nourishing, filling meal. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 small yellow onion or two shallots, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1.5 teaspoons curry powder (I use Penzey's Sweet Curry)
- 1.5 teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon cayenne, depending on how hot you want the dish to be
- 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- cilantro to garnish
- toasted cashews or almonds to garnish
- In a large pan, sautee the onion or shallot in the oil over medium heat. Once translucent (about five minutes), add the garlic and ginger. Cook for one more minute.
- Add the cauliflower florets plus two tablespoons of water. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Let the cauliflower steam for 8-10 minutes, or until it is tender.
- Add the spices and salt, stirring to coat the cauliflower; then add the tomatoes, chickpeas and peas, and increase the heat to medium. Cook for five more minutes.
- Add additional salt to taste and garnish with cilantro and cashews or almonds. Serve with naan or rice.
Notes: I can’t recommend this Penzey’s Sweet Curry highly enough. I go though it constantly!