Random Person: So where are you from?
Me: I’m from Texas
Random Person: No, Really, Where are you from?
Me: Well, I grew up in Houston, and spent my college days in Austin.
<Awkward silence ensues>
Random Person: No, I mean where is your ancestry from?
Me: My parents are from India
Random Person: So, you eat curry?
Yes. That is how conversations often happen when I’m out and about. I’m inevitably the token brown girl at functions here in Indiana and for explicable reasons, I’m designated the responsibility of bringing Indian food to potlucks and the like. I’m proud to be American, and I first and foremost identify myself as one.
But, I am brown. I have Indian parents, and quite frankly, I hold and practice many of the Indian values that my parents instilled within me. So naturally, I also identify myself as Indian.
Anyway, I vividly remember asking my mom to teach me out to cook something Indian. She was all too excited to get me in the kitchen, so she happily obliged. I joined her one Sunday morning (her cooking day), armed with a notepad and pen ready to write it all down only to realize that her cooking methods were without rhyme and in my mind had no reason. She would say, ‘just add a pinch of bay leaves’ while then dumping in what seemed like a handful. Needless to say, I gave up after 20 minutes; she couldn’t really slow down on her end, and I being an analytical chemist could not deal with her arbitrary measuring skills.
But, I still needed a curry recipe. I am an American Born Indian after all. So I’ve done extensive playing around in the kitchen and have discovered what is in my mind, the perfect, vegetarian curry recipe. Not only is it close to the real deal in taste, but it is also healthier than traditional curries, and written using standard measuring units. I hope you like it!
- 2 14 oz packages of extra firm tofu (Drained and prepared as described here)
- 1 cup/can chickpeas (drained)
- 1 pack frozen chopped spinach (10 oz)
- 1 bell pepper (chopped)
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/2 TBSP each of coriander, cumin, and turmeric (I buy these in the bulk foods section to ensure freshness while also saving money)
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 TBSP mild curry paste (Brand: Patak’s Original)
- 1 inch ginger (grated)
- 1 TBSP lime juice
- 1 tsp agave sweetner
- 1 can coconut milk (Make sure it does not contain guar gum… a thickening agent that isn’t so good)
- 1 TBSP extra virgin coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat a skillet on medium high heat. Add 1 TBSP extra virgin coconut oil. Saute the garlic until aromatic. Add in the stir fried tofu. Add the mixture of coriander, cumin, turmeric powder, garam masala, and optional cayenne pepper. Stir for 30 seconds.
- Add chopped onion and a pinch of salt to help release water from the onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add spinach and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add chickpeas, coconut milk, grated ginger, curry paste, lime juice, agave, and salt to the skillet. Cover and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Serve warm with rice, naan, or pita bread (or eat as it is)