Simple, Versatile Vegetarian Curry — Cooking with No Rules

curried chick peas

Chhole or Curry Chickpeas, a recipe from Punjab, usually served over pan-fried bread (chappati). Photo by rovingl at flickr; CC 2.0 license

For this easy curry, everything is fluid. The veggies you use are your personal preference, as are the amounts. Use a large stock pot or deep pan, and judge by the size of the pot the volume of veggies you want to add. If you’re worried about space, prep all your vegetables at once, then add a little of each to the pan until you run out of room or run out of veg. The dish will cook down a bit, so even if you nearly fill the pan, you should still have room for the canned ingredients.

Chop a variety of veggies. You can use any you want, but a good variety adds flavor in addition to nutritional value. Curries can include potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, celery, zucchini, green beans and peas. Peppers are particularly good. Some people add sultanas (raisins).


Grind your own spices for
the most intense and
authentic flavors.

Mushrooms and onions provide a ton of flavor. Fry them off before you add them, or put them straight into the pot. Whole garlic cloves can also be added without pre-cooking.

Set the stove to high, add an inch or two of water to the pan, and allow the veggies to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, then add one or two cans of tomatoes and up to one jar of spaghetti sauce or the equivalent in tomato paste. Adjust the heat level to medium. Allow the curry to cook for 30 minutes, then add one can of chickpeas and one of lentils. Cook up to another 15 minutes, if needed, as the canned items only need to heat, not cook through.


Grind only as much
spice as you need.
Also makes great coffee.

Wait to include more delicate ingredients that don’t take long to cook until close to the end of the cooking cycle. Items like zucchini, garlic and peas (if you want them more green and crunchy) can go in during the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking, depending on how soft you want them.

There are many types of soy that make excellent meat substitutes in this dish, including soy mince and dried soy balls. Add the soy just before you add the spices to allow it to absorb some of their rich flavors. The package instructions may advise adding the soy to water first, but this will cause the soy to mainly soak up water, decreasing the flavor.


Kyocera’s grinder
adds fresh spices
at the table.

Add your spices after the vegetables cook down. The spices you can use include curry powder (contains a blend of spices), dried coriander, cayenne pepper, white and/or black pepper, garlic salt and salt. All of these can go into a single curry if you like it hot and spicy. Exact measurements are not necessary. Simply add a dash of this and that, stir and taste.

Spoon coconut milk over the curry as you serve. Coconut milk changes the flavor of the dish and reduces the heat, so those who love a hotter curry and those who need a milder dish can share the same meal. By keeping the coconut milk out of the pan, you don’t have to worry about it separating when you reheat the dish.

Curry is usually served over rice — white or brown — but there is no reason you can’t have it over pasta, as a side dish or by itself. Start your rice when the curry is approximately halfway done, and the two should be ready at about the same time.

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