I always love Indian food, but winter is my absolute favorite time to eat curry. Maybe it’s because there’s a magical spice blend called garam masala often used in South Asian cooking that never fails to warm me from my tongue to my toes. There are a million different variations on this heady mixture of aromatic spices, but most include peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom. For a real flavor adventure, I recommend visiting your local international market, picking up a pouch of whatever garam masala strikes your fancy, and then trying it out in a batch of this super easy, super healthy, super tasty vegetable korma from Lindsay Nixon’s terrific new cookbook, Happy Herbivore Abroad.
There are two ways to make this delicious Mughlai dish. One is creamy, like a curry, and the other is more reminiscent of traditional dry Indian dishes such as Aloo Gobi or Aloo Matar
¼ onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
cayenne pepper,as desired
¼ tsp turmeric
1 potato, skinned and diced
2-3 carrots, skinned and sliced
½ c tomato sauce
½ c frozen peas
¼ tsp garam masala
For the curry version:
½ c nondairy milk
1⁄8 tsp coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
cayenne, to taste
Line a medium pot with a thin layer of vegetable broth and sauté onions and garlic over high heat until the onions are translucent, garlic is tender and the liquid has evaporated — about two minutes. Add more broth to reline the pot, plus potato and carrots. Sauté for another three minutes, then add coriander, cumin, cayenne as desired, and a couple dashes of turmeric, stirring to combine. Add tomato sauce, bring to a boil, and reduce to low. Cover and simmer until vegetables are fork-tender, adding additional broth as necessary, about five to ten more minutes. (You always want a thin layer of wetness on the bottom. Keep the coating around the veggies wet). Add peas, stir to combine, and heat for another minute or two to warm up the peas. Add 1/4 tsp garam masala and stir to combine. Add salt to taste if desired. Taste, adding more garam masala or more cayenne (if you want it HOT) and serve.
For a creamy curry, stir in 1/2 c nondairy milk, plus 1/8 tsp coriander and 1/8 tsp cumin, and more salt or cayenne (or garam masala — I tend to add another 1/4 tsp) if desired.
Per serving: Calories 170, Total Fat 0.7g, Carbohydrates 35.6g, Dietary Fiber 7.3g, Sugars 8.2g, Protein 6.6 g
Curry version per serving: Calories 180, Total Fat 1.4g, Carbohydrates 36.1g, Dietary Fiber 7.5g, Sugars 8.2g, Protein 6.8g
Photo courtesy of Lindsay Nixon
From Happy Herbivore Abroad: A Travelogue and Over 135 Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes from Around the World by Lindsay S. Nixon. Reprinted courtesy of BenBella Books.
Emily Rems is a feminist writer, editor, rock star, playwright, and occasional plus-size model living in New York’s East Village. Best known as managing editor of BUST magazine, Emily is also a music and film commentator for New York’s NPR affiliate WNYC, and is the drummer for the horror-punk band the Grasshoppers. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in the anthologies Cassette from my Ex and Zinester’s Guide to NYC, and her short stories have been published in Rum Punch Press, Lumen, Prose ‘N Cons Mystery Magazine, Writing Raw, and PoemMemoirStory. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for fiction in 2015 and is working on a novel. Follow her on Twitter @emilyrems.