In my previous life I lived in downtown Toronto and explored foods from a variety of cultures.  I tried Ethiopian food.  I frequented the Italian restaurants on College Street.  Juice for Life on Bloor was my real introduction to delicious, nutritious and beautiful vegan food.  And then when I met Raphael I got into sushi big time.  Raphael also introduced me to Nataraj, his favourite Indian restaurant.  I was instantly hooked by the deep aromatic Indian flavours, beautifully intense yellows and reds, and the intoxicating fragrance of the slow cooked dishes.

For many years I have made Shaby Heltay’s Tandoori Chicken.

I call it my “shalom bayit” (peace in the home) chicken because it’s Raphael’s favourite.  Over the years it has been my kids’ favourite also.

When I went plant-based a few years ago, I recalled all those delicious vegetarian dishes I enjoyed at Nataraj (I was vegetarian for most of my 20s), and decided it was time to bring them into my kitchen.

Making delicious plant-based, oil-free Indian food is surprisingly easy and very cheap to make. Here was my dinner last night.

I started my meal with about 2 cups of steamed green beans – for Freedom Weight Loss participants, this is a great example of food sequencing.  I followed the green beans with a small-medium sized plate of brown basmati rice topped with red lentil daal, and curried cauliflower & potatoes.

Red Lentil Daal

Serves 4

1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
2 cups dried red lentils
2 1/2 cups water, plus more as needed

Water sauté onions for about 5 minutes on high heat.  Once they begin to brown, add garlic, and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes. Add spices and mix well.  Then add water and lentils and reduce to medium-low.  Simmer for 45 minutes until lentils are falling apart and creamy.  You may need to add a little water to achieve the desired consistency.  Serve over brown basmati rice.

Curried Cauliflower & Potatoes

Serves 4

1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1″ piece of ginger, grated
1 medium cauliflower, washed and checked, cut into small pieces
2 large organic cooked potatoes, cut into 1″ chunks
2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 cup water or date water* or more as needed
1/2 tsp salt

Water sauté onions for about 5 minutes on high heat.  Once they begin to brown, add garlic and ginger, and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes. Add curry and mix well. Add water, cauliflower, and potato chunks and mix well.  Reduce heat to medium low and cover.  Mix every 4-5 minutes until cauliflower is cooked.  This should take about 15 minutes.  Serve over brown basmati rice.

*This is reserved water from soaking dates.  Many Freedom recipes call for soaked dates.  This is the reserved liquid from soaked dates.


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