NATIONAL CURRY WEEK RECIPE: Vegans, say Aloo to this dish

Saag aloo
Saag aloo

Parveen Ashraf looks at how curry lends itself to vegetarianism and veganism and shares one of her recipes.

I think Indian food lends itself so well to vegetarianism and veganism. There is a huge variety of recipes for vegetables, pulses, lentils and legumes.

In January,we had the growing challenge of ‘veganary’ where the public were encouraged to go vegan for the full month.

Many of my friends and people I work with tried it and, to my surprise, many stuck to it and some even converted to the ‘light side’.

I am not saying that eating meat is the ‘dark side’ and apologies for the Star Wars references, but I am such a fan.

OK, back to veganism, I feel somehow just eating more of a plant-based diet with more vegetables and no meat products does actually feel more like ‘cleaner eating’ and is much lighter on one’s tummy, so when I say the ‘light side’ I literally mean it.

So, let’s look at the huge array of dishes that we can cook with Indian cuisine.

There is the ever-popular Tarka Daal and Onion Bhajis, plus all the other daals (lentils) vegetables; aubergines masala, courgettes and red peppers in a mixed vegetable curry, aloo gobi(cauliflower), Bombay potatoes, chick pea chaat, chick pea masala, rice with peas, the list is endless!

I cooked a New Year’s Day vegan dinner party for my lovely vegan friend Kim and boyfriend Stuart.

Kim is completely vegan and knows about my vegan food and cooking – but Stuart, who was new to veganism and had just started the Veganuary challenge, was not only surprised at the number of dishes I made that were vegan... it inspired him and reassured him even more that he had made the right decision.

He is still vegan even now, has lost nearly two stone in weight and has lots more energy. So,try some of my recipes and give vegan food a go.

RECIPES FOR SAAG ALOO (SPINACH AND POTATOES)

This ‘garlicy’ light flavoured dish requires mostly fresh ingredients. It’s a world away from the Saag Aloo you may have had at an Indian restaurant or takeaway.

In my experience,when people cook my version, it exceeds all their expectations as all the fresh herbs really enhances the flavour of the spinach.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Serves: approx 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS

500g of fresh spinach – thoroughly washed and chopped

2 medium-sized onions thinly sliced

6 cloves of garlic crushed

2 green chillies – very finely chopped or crushed

1 medium sized potato diced into 1cm cubes

2 fresh tomatoes – finely chopped

6 tbsp vegetable oil

4 tbsp of freshly chopped coriander

3 tbsp of dried fenugreek leaves

1 tsp coriander seed powder (or one of my spicebags)

1 tsp salt

METHOD

1. Heat the oil in the pan and add onions. Fry the onions until they are a lightly golden brown.

2. On medium heat, add the garlic and chillies. Stir in and cook for two minutes.

3. Add tomatoes and cook for five minutes or until tomatoes break down, keep stirring, if sauce sticks, add a splash of water. Cover with lid and simmer for five minutes. Stir occasionally, allowing the onions and garlic to infuse.

4. Add potatoes and cook on high heat, making sure that all the potatoes are covered in the lovely garlic and chilli sauce.

5. Now add the spinach (a handful at a time) and stir in. The spinach will wilt very quickly. On high heat stir continuously for ten minutes.

6. Add the coriander and fenugreek. Cover and simmer for ten minutes or until potatoes are cooked.

For a free spice bag to use in the Saag Aloo, please email Parveenon - parveen@the-spicequeen.com