Curried Lentils with Chickpeas and Okra

Curried Lentils with Chickpeas and Okra

This is a quick and easy meal that is perfect for weeknights. It’s spicy, vegan, and packed with protein and fiber. It’s also appropriate for LID (low iodine diet), which I will have to go back on in March to prepare for a nuclear whole body scan.

Curried Lentils with Chickpeas and Okra

2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, quartered and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup okra, sliced (fresh or frozen)
1 14.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon curry powder (I used Madras)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
3 cups water
Fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until tender. Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook another minute. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. You may have to add a little more water if the mixture gets too dry. When the lentils are tender, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with hot rice.


Crockpot Butter Chicken and Potatoes

Crockpot Butter Chicken and Potatoes (640x480)

The past two months have been crazy-busy. Both of my sons are now in school. Their schools are in opposite parts of the city. I’m spending 4 to 6 hours a day in the car shuttling them around to school and appointments. Throw in there an emergency surgery for my cat, a dead air conditioner that required a complete system replacement, a ruptured eardrum, a variety of back-to-school colds, car problems, soccer practice and games, art workshops, and PTO meetings (I volunteered to be the Secretary for my oldest son’s school’s PTSO). Life has been hectic!

In hectic times, the crockpot comes in so handy. Butter Chicken is a popular Indian dish not usually done in a crockpot. The crockpot is a perfect cooking implement for this dish because the chicken turns out so tender. The addition of potatoes is not necessarily traditional, but it is delicious and gives more substance to the dish. This recipe makes enough for leftovers, which taste even better since the spices have had time to meld.

This recipe uses a lot of spices. I mix my own garam masala and curry powder. I have included the recipes for my spice mixes. You can buy already prepared Indian spice mixtures at some grocery stores or online at

Butter Chicken and Potatoes (640x480)


Crockpot Butter Chicken and Potatoes

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 breasts), cut into bite-sized chunks
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen brand)
1 tablespoon curry powder (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon garam masala (see recipe below)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1/2 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
4 tablespoons butter
fresh cilantro, chopped

Cooked Basmati rice

Layer the onions, chicken, and potatoes in the crockpot. In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger, Thai curry paste, spices, tomato paste, coconut milk, and cream. Pour the sauce over the chicken and potatoes. Add the butter to the crockpot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with Basmati rice. Naan bread would be wonderful with this too.

Recipe adapted from the one found here.

Curry Powder

2 T. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cayenne
1 tsp. ground ginger

Mix spices together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Garam Masala

2 tsp. ground cumin
4 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Combine spices. Store in glass jar.

Chickpea and Potato Stew

Chickpea and Potato Stew

This easy, flavorful, inexpensive, and healthy stew makes for a quick meal. Serve it with hot rice.

Chickpea and Potato Stew

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 cup water
2 large potatoes, diced
1 15.5 ounce can no salt chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped, plus additional for garnish
1 medium tomato, diced

Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat. Cook cumin seeds in oil for 10 seconds. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the ground coriander, cayenne, water, potatoes, chickpeas, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

Add the cilantro and diced tomato. Cook another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro and serve with hot rice.

Chana Aloo (Chickpeas and Potatoes)

Chana Aloo
This was one of the first Indian dishes I ever learned to cook. I scribbled the recipe in a composition notebook over 15 years ago. I have made it countless times over the years. It is easy to prepare and super tasty. A nice introduction dish for someone who hasn’t eaten and/or cooked Indian food.

Serve the chana aloo with hot rice (I prefer Basmati) for a quick weeknight meal or as part of a more elaborate Indian meal.

Chana Aloo 2

Chana Aloo (Chickpeas and Potatoes)

2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (I use Russet potatoes)
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes & their juices
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 15.5 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
fresh cilantro, chopped

Boil the cubed potatoes in water until tender but not mushy, about 8 – 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion until it starts to brown. Add the garlic and sauté one minute more. Add the tomatoes, spices, salt, and chickpeas and cook until heated through. Add the potatoes and continue to cook until the potatoes are heated through. Taste for seasoning and adjust, if necessary, to suit your tastes. Sprinkle the fresh cilantro over the chana aloo and serve with hot Basmati rice.

Curried Collard Greens and Beans

I’m making Indian food for Thanksgiving this year. I hate turkey and am happy I don’t have to deal with it.  Hoping our guests enjoy the non-traditional meal.

This is the menu I made:

Coconut Shrimp Curry
Gobhi Musallam (whole roasted cauliflower)
Chana Aloo (chickpeas and potatoes)
Masoor Masala (spicy lentils with spinach)
Curried Collard Greens and Beans
Basmati rice
Samosas (store-bought)
Tamarind Chutney
Cilantro Chutney
Naan bread (plain and garlic, store-bought)
Chai-Spiced Bundt Cake

Tea, Westbrook Brewing Co.’s White Thai beer, and an assortment of wine

Here is a picture of the savory dishes:

Indian Thanksgiving Meal

Originally, I had not planned on making the curried collard greens and kidney beans dish. I had a bunch of collard greens that I got in my CSA box and wanted to use them. I thought I would make the curried collard greens and beans the day before and reheat them. The flavors will have had time to meld and they should be delicious. I think they were yummy.

Curried Collard Greens and Beans

Curried Collard Greens and Beans

1 large bunch collard greens, cleaned well, tough stems removed, and chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 serrano, seeded and minced
1 15.5 ounce can kidney beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the collard greens and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the greens.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until the they start to brown. Add the garlic, ginger, and serrano and sauté a minute more. Add the drained greens, drained kidney beans, and all the spices. Cook until the beans are heated through. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and serve.

Cilantro Chutney

Cilantro Chutney

This is an excellent Indian condiment.  I like it with samosas or pakoras. This chutney is versatile too. Mix it with some sour cream to make a yummy chip and veggie dip. Mix it with oil and a splash of vinegar to make a salad dressing. You can also use it as you would a pesto. Toss it with hot pasta or use it instead of tomato sauce for a pizza topping. I like making cilantro chutney the day before I want to serve it so that the flavors have time to meld and intensify.

Cilantro Chutney

1 bunch cilantro, washed and dried, most of the bottom stems removed
1 or 2 small green chiles, seeded and cut into chunks
juice of one lemon (or lime)
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 pinch of black pepper
salt to taste (not more than 1/2 teaspoon)

Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and puree into a paste. Add water, a teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you want (not too thick, not too thin).

Tamarind Chutney

Tamarind Chutney

Tamarind Chutney is a delicious sweet and sour Indian condiment. I especially like it with samosas. It is also a nice accompaniment to a cheese plate. The tamarind chutney keeps well too. Store it in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Tamarind comes in many forms. Sometimes  you can find the dry pods in Mexican or Indian markets. I have also seen tamarind concentrate. I get “wet” tamarind (from Thailand) at the Asian market. It comes in a solid block. It’s sticky and full of seeds and pod pieces. I use about 1/4 of the package for this recipe (a little over 4 ounces). I cut up the tamarind block so more surface area can be exposed to the hot water.

Wet Tamarind

Tamarind Chutney

4 ounces of wet tamarind, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
pinch of salt

In a bowl, soak the tamarind in the hot water for 15 minutes. Using a spoon or your hands, break up the tamarind and work as much of the pulp off the seeds and pods as possible. It doesn’t look pretty.

IMG_3082 (640x480)

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer set over another bowl or measuring cup Work the tamarind through the strainer with a spoon or spatula.

Tamarind Sieve

Discard the seeds and pods left in the strainer. You will have about 1 cup of a somewhat thick tamarind liquid.

In a saucepan, combine the tamarind liquid, sugar, spices, and 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. The chutney will still be fairly thin, but will thicken slightly when it cools.

Tamarind Chutney II