Tonight most people will be having a TV dinner and/or eating take out from their laps. For me take out night was usually friday night - the one night of the week when my father was allocated dinner duty. If he was feeling incapable of fajitas from a step-by-step kit or an easy spag bol, he’d be straight on the phone and the next thing i knew we were speeding home from the Indian with a hot, smelly bag of steaming deliciousness balancing between my feet, whilst i tried to feed him our free loyalty popadoms as he drove. Many of you are probably somewhat healthier and if takeaways do exist in your life my guess is they’re from the Wholefoods hot food counter or maybe a fresh sushi bar. I still love a take away now and then - mainly when i return home as theres just something about a cosy night in with your family, some movies and some comfort food. Not all take aways are bad though, only stereotypical things like greasy chinese, pungent indian, unappetising kebabs and burger bar pizza's. But nowadays, you can do takeaways much more virtuously, and can pretty much have any kind of food, from any kind of place, delivered to your door. So many places offer delivery now and with apps like Quiqup, you practically never need to cook again. Or go out, for that matter. (this could get very dangerous indeed). I learnt this particularly during my visit to New York where i stayed with 3 guys who hadn’t cooked in months, thanks to Seamless. But for those of you who disagree entirely with the concept, make your own version of take out food (the idea of quick take-out instead of arduous cooking is lost here completely) like a chinese with vegetable rice instead of white rice, an indian without the naan bread, or some kind of hippy pizza made from vegetables and quinoa (more on that another time). Tonights recipe is inspired by indian curry. It is not a curry though. It is simply a spiced, korma infused side dish as well as one of the quickest things you will ever make.
I went through a phase of making healthy curry a lot a few months ago and alternated between coconut milk green thai with prawns, and sweet potato korma with chicken, prawns or grilled aubergine and greens. It is really easy to make healthy curry as long as you don’t make lazy curry, i.e. using additive-laden ready made sauce. Instead, use fresh ingredients, lots of fresh vegetables and herbs, unprocessed liquids like coconut milk and organic meat. The recipe for the quinoa in this post however is less like a ‘saucy’ curry and more like curried rice - or curry infused quinoa. It almost reminds me of paella, or how i’d imagine it to be if the Indians were to rework it. As this recipe is relatively dry compared to normal curries it would work brilliantly cold, stirred into a salad as well as serving curry purposes. A flavoursome recipe perfect with added chicken or as a side to pretty much anything. I imagine it tastes amazing maybe added to a broth or stirred into soup too. I enjoyed mine with the following sides which are both refreshing and flavoursome in very different ways. The slaw was almost like a chutney and the minty avocado puree replaced what used to be cucumber mint sauce or creme fraiche on my plate, back in the day.
SWEET POTATO CURRIED QUINOA WITH GRILLED AUBERGINE
1 Cup Cooked Quinoa
1 Roasted, Boiled or Steamed Sweet Potato or Squash, chopped
Pinch of Salt
1 Tablespoon Sumac
1-2 Teaspoons Garam masala
1 Teaspoon Cumin
Curry Powder (optional/to taste)
Pinch of Ground Ginger or 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Ginger, grated (optional)
2 Tablespoons Solid Coconut Milk
Handful of Spinach or Kale, wilted/sauteed
Start by cooking the quinoa in double its amount of water (in this case, 2 cups water). Bring to the boil then reduce to simmer for 15-25 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. Once the quinoa is fully cooked and has absorbed all of the water used for boiling, leave the quinoa in the pan. Add the sweet potato to a blender with a little water and blend until a paste begins to form. It doesn’t need to be fully pureed and be sure to leave some of the cooked sweet potato aside if you would like a few whole pieces in the curry. Transfer the paste into the pan with the quinoa and add the spices, salt and coconut milk. Mix with a fork or a wooden spoon and combine the sweet potato entirely so that the quinoa is evenly coated. On a very low heat, re-heat the quinoa and add some water if you think the mixture needs thinning. If you are scared of making it too runny, don’t be, as the quinoa will continue to absorb the water if you heat it for long enough. Mix constantly until everything is combined and add the wilted greens if you are using them. Alternatively, dice the tops of some broccoli florets into the pan too to increase you green intake for the day. Leave on the heat until everything is combined and hot enough to serve.
I would suggest adding diced chicken or turkey or even prawns to this recipe to make it more of a meal. Alternatively you can add more vegetables or increase the amount of sweet potato used. Serve hot and remember to save any leftovers, because there is quite simply nothing like coming home to cold curry in the fridge, or having a delicious ready meal waiting for you when you can least be bothered to cook.
BEETROOT, COURGETTE AND CARROT SLAW
1-2 Tablespoons Mustard
3 Tablespoons Coconut milk (tinned, at room temp)
2 Raw Beetroots
1 Cup Cabbage
Pinch of Salt
1 Teaspoon Sumac
1-2 Teaspoons Lemon juice
Simply grate all of your vegetables or shred them in your food processor. Place them together in the same bowl and mix and toss to combine. Add the salt, sumac and lemon juice and then mix again before spooning in the coconut milk and the mustard. If the coconut milk is especially stiff you may need to mash it gently with your fork before mixing it into the vegetables. Mix until the coconut milk and mustard have blended completely into the vegetables and until everything is combined and fully coated. Add a tablespoon of water if you think the mixture is too thick and dry. It really depends on what consistency the coconut milk is at when you use it.
1 Ripe Avocado
2 Tablespoons Water
A Splash of Olive Oil or Avocado Oil
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 Grated Carrot or Courgette
Large Handful of Fresh Mint Leaves
Pinch of Salt
Simply pace all of the ingredients into a blender and blend for 2 minutes until completely smooth.
This dip is a smoother version of mashed avocado or guacamole and is more like a cream than most other dips. This side is extremely refreshing and is perfect for a curry dish or something spicy and flavoursome if, like me, you are a former condiment addict. I used to love creme fraiche with curry or fajitas for a cooling taste sensation.
+ Also delicious with kale chips, sweet potato chips, courgette chips, raw vegetables and raw crackers as well as on homemade seeded toast. It is so versatile and because it doesn’t have an overpowering flavour, it would work well served with sweet things too, instead of whipped cream.