Indian food doesn't have to be fussy.
If I'm in the mood for Indian food but don't want to fuss with a recipe and measuring ingredients (or looking up the phone number of the local Indian restaurant), I usually opt for a simple curry with a couple of vegetables: cauliflower, okra, aubergine (eggplant), potatoes, peas—all are used in Indian vegetarian cooking. This time it was cauliflower and fresh peas, which work beautifully together. I had mushrooms, so I added that, though this dish would be fine without them.
I had some fresh naan, and frozed samosas—both are easy to find here; those of you in the U.S. may have to hunt for an Indian specialty store to enjoy the convenience of store-bought naan. Or make your own.
Open a jar of chutney and you're done, in less time than it would take to order out. And since this cooks all in one pot (except for the rice) there's not much washing up either.
For easy-peasy directions, plus some hints on ingredients, see below.
Indian Cauliflower and Peas
2 tablespoons canola (rapeseed) oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek, optional
1 cup chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup soy cream
1 head cauliflower, florets separated
1 cup peas
1 teaspoon garam masala, optional
chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), optional
In a large saute pan or dutch oven, fry the onions and mushrooms in the oil until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and the spices, and continue to cook another minute or two.
Add the tomatoes; stir to blend. Add the soy cream.
Meanwhile, steam the cauliflower until it's just soft, about 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower to the tomato/spice mixture, and the peas. Cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, adding water as necessary to maintain a sauce consistency.
Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Stir in the garam masala if you have it. Garnish with chopped coriander (cilantro) if desired. Serve with basmati rice and other Indian snacks: naan, samosas, bhajis, etc.
Note on ingredients: garam masala is an Indian spice blend which you can find at any specialty Asian market, or make your own. The spices used in the blend vary by region, so one brand will not taste just like another. While you're at the Asian food shop, pick up some fenugreek (called methi in Indian recipes), too. It adds a bit of tang that's nice in Indian meals, plus research has shown it to be beneficial in protecting against breast cancer.