Many of my clients say that if they come home from work late, tired and hungry, they have no idea where to start when it comes to cooking a healthy plant-based meal without spending hours in the kitchen.
In response, here's one of my go-to recipes that I rely on when I don't have much time to make a meal. You can make it with chickpeas, or tofu, or both.
This curry ticks all the boxes of a nutritious meal: it's got a wholegrain, low GI source of carbohydrates (brown basmati rice), a serve of legumes and/or tofu, which are both good sources of the minerals iron and zinc, and heaps of veggies for fibre and phytochemicals.
I always add pumpkin or carrot, as both are good sources of beta-carotene, which is an important nutrient for people on plant-based/vegan diets, as it converts to vitamin A in the body (which isn't found in any plant-based foods). The vitamin C and organic acids in the tomato will also increase the absorption of the iron from the chickpeas and/or tofu.
Makes 4 serves, so you'll have enough for leftovers for lunch the next day.
- 2 x 400/14oz tins diced tomatoes
- 2 x 400g/14oz tins chickpeas, or 1 tin chickpeas + 250g firm tofu or 500g firm tofu. For the tofu: dice into inch-sized cubes. For the chickpeas: drain and rinse in a colander.
- 2 heaped cups diced pumpkin (the smaller you dice it, the faster it will cook)
- 1/2 a tin refilled with water (about 1 cup)
- 2 tsp garam masala (an Indian spice mix of coriander, cumin, cinnamon and other spices you can buy or make yourself)
- 1 tsp dried turmeric
- 1/2 brown onion, diced
- A knob of ginger, peeled and finely sliced into thin matchsticks
- Salt and/or black pepper to taste
- 2 medium zucchinis, grated
- Optional: fresh red chilli, thinly sliced (or dried red chilli flakes)
- Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, washed and roughly chopped
- Brown basmati rice to serve - allow about 1/3 to 1/2 cup uncooked rice per person
- Start cooking the rice by whichever method you prefer, i.e. in rice cooker, in the microwave, in a saucepan (boil or absorption method). The brown basmati does take a little longer than white basmati (perhaps 20-25 minutes compared with 15 minutes, but it depends on the brand) so if you're really pressed for time, use the white basmati - it's still low GI, but just has a little less fibre than the brown variety.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add 1 tin of the tomatoes, the garam masala, turmeric, onion and ginger and stir with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes or so until fragrant
- Add the other tin of tomatoes, 1/2 a tin of water, the chickpeas and/or tofu, the diced pumpkin and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a lively simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the pumpkin is soft and the sauce has reduced.
- Turn off the heat, add the grated zucchini and stir it through. The zucchini will cook with the heat of the curry. Taste the curry and season with salt and/or pepper to taste. You can also add a little more garam masala (a tsp at a time) to taste.
- Serve the curry with the brown basmati rice and garnish with coriander leaves, fresh or dried red chilli. Enjoy!