So…y’all know me. I’m the queen of “accidentally vegetarian” cuisine. In fact, quiet as kept, I can count on two hands the number of times I ate a meal with meat in it over the entire course of my pregnancy. I just…I couldn’t be bothered.
So, when Silk decided to invite me to participate in their #MeatlessMondayNight challenge, I scoffed – of course I could do it. It’d be a breeze.
One of the ways I manage to make healthy eating more affordable for my family is by sliding these accidentally vegetarian dishes into our meal plans – dishes that are so thick, rich, and filling, that you dont even miss the meat. Everything you wanted is already in the meal.
“But, Erika….what if I actually want meat?”
I mean, you might. But, the reality is, most people want that protein – its filling, and its great for their muscles. Most people also want the flavorful fat that we often get when we cook with meat. Because I already anticipated that…this is me, armed to the teeth with ways to account for that.
Honestly, Indian food is GOAT status (that’s greatest of all time, for the uninitiated) when it comes to vegan dishes – there are countless reasons for that, and that’s a topic for another day – but, as I’d blogged before, Ed’s the one that introduced me to it all. The spices, the flavors, the unique combination of flavors – and, by the way, the abundance of antioxidants present in all those fresh herbs and spices – I mean, the stuff is heavenly.
I’m starting with a giant mass of frozen broccoli that I accidentally stuck in the freezer to move out of the way to store it, and left there. I’m also sticking it in the oven at 400 degrees on a rack above a pan (this helps the liquid drain out of it), after having let it thaw a bit. It’ll be a bit soggy, but putting it on a rack above a pan will allow it took drain the water out without sitting and sopping it back up. (We used a similar method to make the oven-fried chicken thighs, remember?)
Chickpeas are easy. Buy ’em dried, pour your dried chickpeas in a pot, cover them with water (meaning, pour just enough water in the pot to make sure that all of your chickpeas are underwater), let them soak overnight, dump out the water and cover your chickpeas with fresh water with a tablespoon of kosher salt, and cook them over medium heat for a half hour, or until you can bite into five different chickpeas and all of them taste equally soft in the center.
If this feels very informal, trust me – it is. Chickpeas, and dried beans in general, are incredibly easy to cook without specific hard numbers.
But you know what’s even easier? Canned chickpeas, which I absolutely keep on hand in a pinch, because as much as I love to make everything from scratch, I’m not so much of a purist that I’d risk having nothing to make for dinner and wind up calling out. I’m a purist, but remember – I’m also cheap.
Using canned chickpeas also helps us keep our cooking time down to 25 minutes, as originally intended. Just sayin’.
Dice one whole onion and two cloves of garlic, and toss it in your skillet with two tablespoons of peanut oil. (If you have a peanut oil allergy, I feel bad for you, son – I got 99 problems…wait — if you have a peanut oil allergy, use a non-extra virgin olive oil or an organic canola oil, instead.) You’ll want to soften your onion and brown it until it looks close to this. From here, you’ll want to shred two teaspoons of fresh ginger and chop three tiny Thai chilies (this part is totally optional), and drop it in your onion and garlic sauté.
Now, about these spices.
Combine a tablespoon of cumin, a tablespoon of coriander, a teaspoon of turmeric, a tablespoon of paprika, two teaspoons of garam masala, and a quarter of a teaspoon of cayenne – all powdered – in a little jar. Let ’em sit and wait together, getting well-acquainted with one another before they make sweet, sweet magic in your pot.
Speaking of that pot, put two 15oz cans of chickpeas – both Goya’s brand and Whole Foods’ 365 brand are incredible options, here; just pour them into a colander and rinse! – in your pot. Add three cups of water, and four teaspoons of tomato paste – see mine in the jar up there? – to your chickpeas. (Bonus tip – are you using canned chickpeas? Use the broth from your chickpeas’ can in place of water, instead of tossing it!) Once you get a nice, thick coating around your chickpeas, add your spices and half a teaspoon of kosher salt.
Now, add all the cilantro in the world to the pot.
Okay, maybe not all of it, but at least a half cup’s worth.
From here, you’ll want to squeeze one lime over the entire batch and stir it in, saving your second lime for squeezing over individual plates.
Grab that broccoli out of the oven, chop it up into giant chunks, and put it on the plate. By now, it should’ve drained out most of the water and shouldn’t be soggy at all. Pour a generous portion of your chickpea curry (yep! that’s what this basically is!) over the top. If you’ve got a vegetable peeler or a microplane or even a cheese grater, run the rind of your lime across it and spread the lime zest across the top of your plate for a little extra flavor to your dish.
Chana masala is usually served over basmati rice, and I can assure you I enjoy my fair share of that, too! However, I also wanted to switch it up just a teeny bit – some of us may opt to cut the rice every now and again, and I wanted to show that you don’t have to give up your delicious chickpea curry in order to cut the rice – while spinach might be a more authentic choice, broccoli is delicious. Broccoli and I are best friends.
As a part of Silk’s encouragement for folks to begin giving #MeatlessMondayNight a shot (and, of course, their non-dairy milk alternatives too, I suppose), they’ve created a website that’ll share recipes as well as encouragement for you to go meatless even more often! Trust me – the right “oh wait – there really wasn’t any meat in this?” dish will convince you, too!
And, if you’re interested in other delicious Indian recipes, check out VahChef at VahRehVah.com!
This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.