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Sunday, June 24, 2012

30-Minute Vegetarian Curry Meal Recipe

A few years ago, I didn't even know what 'a curry' was. I know the spice and have always associated it with hot and spicy Indian cooking.

A vegetarian friend of mine always talked about making a curry for dinner. Whenever I asked her to elaborate on exactly what she defined as 'a curry', she'd give an evasive answer. Something about sautéing veggies and steaming rice.

Finally I got smart and looked it up in the old reliable Webster's. It says, 'a sauce made with curry powder, a kind of stew prepared with curry'. Referring to my collection of vegetarian cookbooks, I found an easy recipe for a curry. Now, I have come to realize how handy this 'method' or 'principle' is.

By simply sautéing an assortment of veggies in a curry powder or paste, I could obtain a vegetable 'stew' bursting with flavor. Curry powder isn't necessarily hot/spicy. There are many mild variations on the market. So, if you have always associated curry powder as a hot spice, take note that milder versions are available all over.

A little curry can go a long way. Using a mellow type, I find I can use more without worrying if I am going to burn a hole in my mouth. Curry powder seems to go well with a wide array of vegetables and meats. Cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, onions and potatoes as well as chicken, shrimp, eggs and tofu combine miraculously with this yellow powder creating dazzling duos and blends. When I make a curry, it is usually at the end of the week when the fridge is getting empty and I want to use up my vegetables.

Steam some flavored rice like Basmati or brown for South-Asian accompaniment.

Since curry pastes are known for being hot, the traditional Raita a mix of cool, soothing cucumbers tossed with yogurt finds its way to the curry dinner table.

Below is my version of an 'Indian dinner' with a vegetable curry and cucumber Raita. Now, I am no expert on Indian cuisine though I would love to travel there someday to sample the country's authentic flavors. If Indian cooking is your specialty, then by all means make changes where you feel necessary in the following recipes.

The nice thing about curry (besides the fact that it's a delightful change from old-standby meals) is that is quick to prepare. At least my non-authentic recipe is. Throw on the rice and chop up some cucumbers for a complete and satisfying meal in 30 minutes tops!

And finally, after forcing the first bit one the hesitant-to-try-new-food (most often children) a mellow curry wins over most hearts. If you have never tried a curry before, try my recipe. I don't care for really hot dishes so my curry is gentle but robust. My children, even as youngsters, have always gobbled up this dish up and even ask for seconds. You just may be more than mildly surprised at how much you like it, too.

Quick Vegetable Curry
Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4
  • 2 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 small zucchini
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup cauliflower, broken into bite-size chunks
  • up to 3 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 vegetable flavored bouillon cube
  • salt to taste
Prepare rice according to package directions. While rice is cooking, prepare curry.
Coarsely chop onion. In large skillet with lid, begin sautéing onion in olive oil on medium high heat. When onion is translucent, add chicken if using, stirring frequently for another 3 minutes. While onion mixture is cooking, slice mushrooms and add.

Coarsely chop zucchini and cauliflower and add to skillet. Continue sautéing another minute or two. Add remaining ingredients. Stir well. Cover and bring to boil. Once stew begins to boil, reduce heat and set lid slightly ajar. Continue simmering for another 15-20 minutes.
While curry is simmering, prepare cucumber raita.

Cucumber Raita
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4
  • 2 hot house cucumbers
  • 1 cup low-fat, plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons dill
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
In serving bowl whisk together yogurt, dill lemon juice, salt and pepper. Chop cucumber into bite-size chunks. Add to yogurt mixture. Stir well. Chill until ready to serve.
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