A plant based diet is one that incorporates food derived from plant sources and with few or no animal products involved.
There are several health benefits to plant based diets, here are some of them:
-Plant based diets promote weight loss when compared to animal based diets.
-They also reduce the risk of heart diseases since only animals make cholesterol.
-Since plant based foods are rich in fibre they promote good gut health.
Over the recent years, plant-based and vegan diets have taken the world by storm. More people are adapting this lifestyle for various reasons. In my opinion, in today’s day and age, for a culinary/baking business to stay successful, they have to incorporate plant-based dishes in their menu. And of course, grocery stores are stocked with a plethora of substitutes, making it so easy for cafes/bakeries/restaurants to try something new.
Personally, I have grown up vegetarian(lacto-vegetarian) by default. My extended family has adapted mostly a plant based diet due to cultural/religious reasons and therefore it has come naturally to me. In fact, most of my baking until very recently has been egg-free. Although I tend to be a purist at times with my French baking, I definitely see my curious genes take on a plant-based adventure in the future.
Allow me to share with you today, a Plant -based curry. Chickpea Curry/Channa Masala is an old soul in the plethora of Indian Cuisine. It’s a classic, and has ubiquitous presence in India and outside. I remember my brothers and me delighting in this curry with hot pooris and a side of mango ShreekarNe(Mango pulp puree) and imaginably, it was nothing short of a celebration.
This recipe borrows the creamy richness of Coconut Milk. Coconut Milk, a luscious, velvety milk that is made by grinding coconut meat and water and is rich with the nutty, sweet flavors of coconut. It’s addition to the modest & much-loved chickpeas ensues an experience filled with comfort and indulgence.
RECIPE FOR CHICKPEAS AND COCONUT CURRY
1 1/3 cup of canned Chickpeas
1 large onion – chopped into large chunks
2 tomatoes- chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 green chilli – split into 2
1 tsp Ginger- finely chopped
12 whole Cashewnuts
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Coriander Powder(Dhaniya powder)
1 tsp Cumin Powder(Jeera powder)
1/2 tsp red chilli powder(or more if you like it spicy)
3 tbsp Oil
2 Dried Bay leaves
1 Star Anise
3 Cardamom Pods(Elaichi)
1 inch piece of Cinammon
1/2 cup canned Coconut Milk
1/2 cup water
Salt to Taste
1 tbsp dried mint or dried fenugreek leaves
-In a saucepan, add the oil and once it’s heated, add the green chilli and ginger. Saute until the ginger is lightly browned and add the chopped onions with a sprinkle of salt.
-Once the onions turn soft and transluscent, add the tomatoes, cashewnuts and season once again. Saute for a few minutes until the tomatoes are cooked nicely and their raw smell is gone.
-Add the spices: Turmeric, Coriander Powder and Cumin Powder, red chilli powder, stir-fry the mixture for about 2-3 minutes. The, put off the heat and remove from the pan into a blender. Let it cool completely. Once cooled, blend into a paste, adding just enough water only if necessary. Keep aside.
-In the same kadai, add a teaspoon of oil and let it heat. To this add the whole spices: Star Anise, Cinammon, Cardamom and Bay leaves, saute until the cinnamon pops.
-To this add the ground onion-tomato paste along with half a cup of water(add more if you prefer a thinner gravy), canned chickpeas, salt and let it simmer. Finally add the coconut milk, dried mint/ dried fenugreek leaves & stir it well and allow to simmer once again. Keep stirring once in a while to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Once it comes to a boil, put off the stove and garnish with coriander or other microgreens.
-Serve hot with rice/rotis , some ghee and a side of lemon & onions.
Although the food I’ve grown up eating was always vegetarian, dairy has been a big part of it. My grandmother and my mother used/use it widely in their cooking be in in the form of yogurt, ghee, butter, cream or even just regular milk. This experiment with the use of coconut milk has been an eye opener and I hope to use it more often. Not only did I get to revert from the classic but I also got to learn something new. I’m grateful for this wonderful experience.