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
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
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.