Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Meatless Monday: Curry in a Hurry!

Dinner is my nemesis. I know it sounds weird for a food lover, not to mention someone who writes about the subject for a living, to say that, but cooking dinner every night is drudgery, dang it. Sure, inspiration strikes, some fantastic recipe crosses my path, a gorgeous (and budget-friendly) cut of meat calls to me from the butcher's case or friends coming for dinner sets me off on a quest for a new menu to try.

But there's also the curse of having been raised on the concept of a "balanced meal," that mantra of meat-starch-veg, the om shanti om of my mother's generation. If we happen to be low on green stuff, I practically grovel for my family's forgiveness at committing such a grave disservice to their colons.

Suffice it to say that I was sans ideas last night when it occured to me that it was time to start dinner, something that conveniently slips my mind with startling regularity, as in "What? How did it get to be 5:30 so soon?" Rummaging through the fridge and scanning the pantry, I came up with a typical list that might be given to a contestant in a black box challenge.

"Kathleen, here are six ingredients that have nothing in common. It's your job to make a nourishing and delicious meal out of them. Go!"

Hm. Rice. Part of a can of leftover tomato sauce. A bunch of kale. Onion. Garlic. Two potatoes. It occured to me that it was Monday, so meatless could be a way to go. I'd been craving curry lately, we had some chutneys in the fridge and my family is pretty game for Indian flavors. I was on my way. A half hour later we sat down to what I have to say was a pretty darn satisfying dinner, all in all.

Unfortunately, now I have to start wondering what to make for dinner tonight. Dang it.

Tomato Vegetable Curry with Rice

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
2 medium potatoes, sliced in 1/2" cubes
1 bunch kale, sliced in 1/4" ribbons
2-3 c. puréed or crushed tomatoes
Salt to taste
1 1/2 c. rice

Heat oil in deep skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add onion and sauté till translucent. Add garlic and sauté briefly, then add turmeric, cumin, coriander and red pepper flakes (if using). Sauté until they're very fragrant, then add potatoes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add kale and tomatoes and bring to a simmer, stirring until kale wilts. Add water if it seems too thick. Cover and simmer over low heat until potatoes are tender. Add salt to taste.

While curry cooks, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add rice and when liquid returns to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover, simmering for 20 minutes or just until the water has been absorbed. Serve curry over rice with selection of chutneys on the side, if desired.

Feel free to add other vegetables like peas or broccoli, or substitute cooked chickpeas for potatoes. Add cooked beef, chicken or shrimp for a carnivorous twist, and add more depth by drizzling in a splash of fish sauce. (In other words, this recipe is endlessly adaptable and hard to mess up. Have fun!)


Mom a.k.a. Ginger said...

I have the same problem. I love to cook and my family loves for me to cook but sometimes I come home from work and am too tired to be inspired. I finally tried this curry and, as you promised, it is both easy and delicious. Thanks!!!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Thanks for the feedback, Ginger! I'm all about the easy, no-fuss dinner that eveyone can enjoy…including the cook!