There are times when I want to lose myself in exotic eats and take a daydreamy tastebud trip to the southern hemisphere – escape eating, you could call it. Nothing hits my reset button better. But I’ve noticed on those days when I really crave spicy escapism, I usually don’t feel up to a whole bunch of kitchen madness, or like going to the store for stuff I don’t have. Times like these call for easygoing curries: stuff I already have, cooked in familiar ways, resulting in marvelously healthy, Indian-esque comfort food. This one’s vegan and a great source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins, and it’s low sodium, so it’ll leave you feeling good on a lot of levels.
If you weren’t raised knowing how to cook Indian, no worries. You can get an idea of what’s going on from Chef Sanjay Thumma, aka Vahchef, and Chef Harpal Sokhi Singh. They both make great how-to videos that focus on spices, and if you get the spices, you get Indian cooking. They use a lot of oil and spices I’m not familiar with in their cooking, so I just use way less oil and focus on what I can get at my local grocery store. I like those guys so I recommend them, but if you go to Youtube and search “Indian cooking videos,” you’ll find tons of great stuff.
In a perfect world, I’d be using fresh garlic and ginger all the time in my Indian cooking. I don’t, though. I usually wing it with dried. Hey, it never goes bad, and I can keep it on hand constantly. Life is about compromise, especially on a Tuesday night when I decide out of nowhere I have to have some curry or I’ll die.
Easygoing Spinach and Potato Curry
makes 6 one-cup servings
3 large potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
spice list (use more or less to taste):
1-2 tablespoons red curry powder
1-2 teaspoons garam masala
1-2 teaspoons cumin or crushed cumin seeds
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 medium-large yellow onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon garlic powder or granules
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
12 oz. bag frozen spinach
14 oz. can salt-free diced tomatoes
half a can (7 oz.) light coconut milk (optional, but makes it extra creamy)
1. Scrub the potatoes clean, then place them in the microwave for about 2 1/2 minutes. When they’re cool enough to handle, cut them into bite-size cubes.
2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large cooking pan over medium heat. Add the spice list ingredients to the oil. Cook them for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the onion and garlic powder and continue to cook and stir for about 3 more minutes. The mixture should look pretty dry.
3. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the potatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Prepare the spinach according to the package’s microwave directions.
4. Stir the spinach, tomatoes and coconut milk into the potatoes. Put a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer everything together for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If you don’t feel like fooling around and making raita, you can take a shortcut and get into the same flavor ballpark – just serve a little plain yogurt on the side. If you’re vegan and haven’t tried vegan yogurt yet, maybe you should cause it’s pretty good.
Per hefty cup: 202 calories; 10.5g fat (7.4g sat); 0mg cholesterol; 78mg sodium; 25.4g carbohydrates; 4.7g protein; 5.9g fiber