The best ‘butter’ cauliflower curry

This one has been a long time coming. I’ve been making a version of vegan butter chicken for 10 years and have refined it a little more each time.

Now, it’s perfect. The flavour is bold but delicate and rich but light. Eating this instantly transports me to an Indian restaurant… but one that doesn’t leave me feeling full and heavy afterwards.

I’ll typically make the sauce for this one on a Sunday to speed things up on a weeknight. It’s not too involved, but the time you put in to bring it all together is worth it. Trust me.

‘Butter’ cauliflower curry
Serves 4

For the sauce
1 red onion, diced
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 tin coconut milk (270ml)
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp tamarind puree (I prefer a Thai variety over an Indian one)
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 green cardamom pods
8 curry leaves
2 whole star anise

For the curry
5 large tomatoes, quartered
1 cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
Brown rice, to serve

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

To prepare the sauce, add all ingredients into a pressure cooker with 1 cup of water. Cook at pressure for 4 minutes then release pressure and set aside to cool.

If you are making this without a pressure cooker, cook onion with the spices then add the coconut milk, diced tomatoes, tamarind, 1 cup of water, curry leaves and coconut sugar. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes before setting aside to cool.

Next, prepare the rest of the curry. Coat the tomatoes and cauliflower with spices, lemon juice and olive oil. Then, spread the tomatoes and cauliflower on an oven tray and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

When sauce has cooled, remove the star anise and pour sauce into a high-speed blender. Blend on high for 60 seconds or until sauce is smooth.

Pour sauce back into a saucepan to gently heat. When ready to serve, gently fold in the roasted tomatoes and cauliflower then serve on top of some brown rice.


Indian nourish bowl with curried corn bread

This Indian nourish bowl has a very Western influence. It’s not heavy with curry and instead, borrows on classic Indian flavours we know and love.

It might look like a few steps are involved, but this one came to be by me finding and wanting to use up some random fridge leftovers. You can use these ingredients in different ways or just make one thing out of the list… I’m all for improvising.

If there’s one thing in the below recipe you should make, it’s the vegan cashew cream. Try keeping a small container of it on hand at all times. It keeps in the fridge for up to a week – unless it gets eaten first!

Indian nourish bowl with curried corn bread
Serves 4

For the curried corn bread
3/4 c polenta
1/4 c arrowroot starch
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 c cooked quinoa, cooled
1/4 c corn kernels (optional)
2 tbsp chives, chopped
1 1/2 c coconut milk
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the cauliflower and chickpeas
2 c cauliflower florets
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp curry powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the pomegranate dressing
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp raw honey
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the vegan cashew cream
1 c raw cashews, soaked overnight
1/2 c filtered water
1 tsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp chickpea miso
1 tsp white wine vinegar
Salt, to taste

To serve
Leftover cumin rice
Leftover cooked greens
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted

To make the curried corn bread, preheat oven to 180 degrees C. In a large bowl, combine ingredients in the order listed and mix until combined. Let it rest for 10 minutes before putting in a loaf pan and cooking in the oven for approximately 40 minutes.

To make the cashew cream, add all ingredients to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth and adjust flavourings to taste.

To make the pomegranate dressing, add all ingredients to a small-medium bowl and whisk until combined.

To assemble, put a spoonful or two of the chickpeas and cauliflower in a bowl. Next to it, add a spoonful of leftover cooked greens, then a spoonful of leftover cumin rice. Add a few slices of the curried corn bread, sprinkle the bowl with pumpkin seeds, add a dollop of cashew cream and drizzle everything with the pomegranate dressing.

30-minute one-pot dal with quick pickled onion

Another dal recipe I hear you say? Look, my tarka dal and hidden veg dal are both delicious, but this recipe is ‘the one’ for when you want something delicious but don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen.

So, before you open UberEats to order dinner tonight, check your pantry. Pretty much every ingredient in this dish is a kitchen pantry staple. And all you need to do is put everything in a saucepan, so it can do it’s thing.

I’ve also done this one in my pressure cooker and it worked a treat. I cooked it for about 4-5 minutes at pressure.

30-minute one-pot dal with quick pickled onion
Serves 4-6

For the dal
1 1/3 cups red split lentils
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp dried diced onion
1 tbsp dried garlic granules
1 tbsp vegetable stock powder
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp salt, or more to taste
4 cups filtered water
400ml coconut milk
Basmati rice, to serve

For the pickled onion
1 large red onion, finely sliced
Zest and juice of 1 lime

To make the dal, add all ingredients to a large saucepan and turn on the heat. Bring to the boil then cook over a medium heat for 20-30 minutes until dal has broken down.

While the dal is cooking, place the onion, lime juice and lime zest in a large bowl. Massage the onion with your hands until the onion starts to soften from the acid in the lime juice, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.

Serve dal with basmati rice and top with quick pickled onion.


Vegan baked biryani {gluten-free, soy-free}

This was actually going to be a quinoa biryani, but when I started experimenting with rice, I realised using quinoa would compromise the dish. It just won’t cut it the same way basmati rice does.

I love this biryani because it’s a one pot ‘set and forget’ wonder! All you need to do is start cooking it on the stove then transfer to the oven where it will do it’s thing. A meal this easy feels like cheating.

I recently discovered chat masala at a Indian cooking class I went to and now I’m using it on everything. If you don’t have it, you can omit it.

Vegan-biryani-kale-mary.jpg

Vegan baked biryani {gluten-free, soy-free}
Serves 4-6

1 tbsp cumin seeds
5 green cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
1/2 cinnamon quill
1 dried chilli
1 red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated
2 carrots, diced
200g green beans, ends removed and halved
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
3 cups basmati rice
Handful toasted cashews
Handful raisins or sultanas
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 tbsp dairy-free butter
Spring onion, to serve
Chat masala, to serve
Homemade chutney, to serve

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Heat some oil in a dutch oven over a medium heat on the stove. Add spices and let cook until fragrant. Then add onion and cook until it becomes translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.

Next, add carrot, green beans, salt and pepper, bay leaf and rice, stir to combine. Then carefully pour in 6 cups of filtered water. Stir, then bring to a boil.

Cover with oven-proof lid or sheet of foil and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

At this point, give it a quick stir to make sure rice isn’t catching on the bottom. If it is, or the rice is getting a bit too dry, add around 1/4 cup water.

Add cashews, raisins, peas and dairy-free butter. Mix through and return to oven, uncovered for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve with finely chopped spring onions, a sprinkle of chat masala and homemade chutney.

Vegan summer palak paneer | Easy sheet pan dinner

I’ve been on a mission recently: to find vegan sheet pan dinners that can save me on weeknights. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. There’s plenty of chicken sheet pan dinners, plenty of taco ones and plenty of nacho ones, but very few are vegan, and more interesting than roasted vegetables.

Sometimes I make the marinade from this recipe and turn it into a veganised palak paneer, which is what I started doing last week when I realised I could turn it into an easy sheet pan dinner. The first attempt wasn’t so great – I undercooked the mushrooms, burnt the marinade and added too much coconut milk. But every attempt since has been simply delicious. And guess what? It only takes 35 minutes.

This palak paneer is probably quite different to what you’ve seen and eaten. My take on the Indian classic is light, fresh and vibrant – the perfect food to enjoy on a hot summer’s day. The umami and saltiness of the marinade meets the sweetness of the red onion and cherry tomatoes.

Sheet pan palak paneer

Vegan summer palak paneer
Serves 2

200g organic, non-GMO tofu, sliced into rectangles
4 tbsp + 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, divided
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup filtered water
1 red onion, halved and sliced
12 cherry tomatoes
100g baby spinach
3-4 tbsp coconut milk

Heat oven to 200 degrees C.

Place the tofu in a shallow bowl and add 4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, garlic powder, lemon juice, salt and water. Mix until combined well and tofu is coated.

Place the tofu on a greased oven tray. Add the red onion and cherry tomatoes, and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Remove tray from the oven and add baby spinach to the pan. Don’t mix it through yet as it will wilt down in the oven.

After 10 more minutes of cooking time, remove tray and mix everything around. Gently push your spoon on the tomatoes – they should be soft enough that their juices ooze out.

Drizzle the coconut oil onto the pan and the ingredients, then sprinkle additional 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes and return the pan to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve atop some fresh spinach on a bed of steamed basmati rice.

Vegan tarka dal

Our home is coming along. The American walnut floating shelves are almost finished, which means my cookbooks will soon have their forever home and the next nook of our house will be complete.

I know I’ve already posted a dal recipe on here previously but stay with me on this one, because that was before this tarka dal was born. I thought my hidden veg dal was good but I don’t always have eggplant handy. If I’m going to make dal without much in the way of extra veg, I have to make sure it has lots of flavour. There’s no point having dal if it doesn’t have layers upon layers of flavour… that’s where my recipe for tarka dal comes in.

Tarka dal ingredients rTarka dal r

Vegan tarka dal
Serves 4

1 tsp coconut oil
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3cm piece of ginger, finely grated
8 curry leaves
3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 cup red split lentils, washed and soaked for 2 hours
1 cup yellow split lentils, washed and soaked for 2 hours
5-6 cups filtered water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
Fresh coriander

Heat coconut oil in a saucepan then cook mustard and cumin seeds until fragrant. Add onions to the pan and let caramelise.

Add garlic, ginger and curry leaves to the pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Mix in tomatoes, cashews, turmeric and chilli powder, then add lentils, water and salt. Stir until combined.

Bring to the boil and reduce to simmer for approx. 20 minutes or until lentils have softened. Stir occasionally to avoid it catching on the bottom of the saucepan. If it’s getting a bit dry and the lentils aren’t soft enough yet, just add a little more water.

Mix through garam masala and cook a further 5-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and use a hand blender to blitz the tomatoes and cashews.

Serve with fresh coriander and basmati rice.

Vegan dal | Hidden veg red lentil dal

The sunroom is my favourite room in the house, especially in winter. Golden rays of sun filter through the windows and make me feel like I myself am a glowing beam of sun. I notice a difference in how I feel when I sit in this room, I feel really good. And then I look at my plant children around me and I feel really happy. If they’re thriving from living in the sunroom then I must be thriving, too. I’m pretty glad about that, because I am about to turn another year older. 

I’ve been on the hunt for the best dal recipe for years. I wanted one that had more depth to its flavour. The simple ones I had tried were too one dimensional in taste, while the complicated recipes were not worth my time. I was reading a recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt  recently where he recommended roasting eggplant, removing the skin and blitzing it up to add to ramen. I wondered if it would work for dal so I gave it a shot. I wanted this dal to be really flavoursome so I decided to pierce the skin of the eggplant before roasting and stuffed it with garlic cloves. 

Did it work? You bet it did. 

Dal 2rDal r

Vegan dal | Hidden veg red lentil dal
Serves 4

1 1/2 cup red lentils, washed and soaked for 2 hours (if timing allows)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 litre filtered water
1 bay leaf
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 tbsp cumin seeds
6 curry leaves
1 eggplant, pierced and stuffed with 4-6 peeled garlic cloves then roasted for 1 to 1 1/2 hours
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp garam masala

Tip lentils into a medium saucepan. Cover with the water and add turmeric and bay leaf. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the water has reduced and the lentils are soft.

After roasting the eggplant, remove its skin and mash the flesh in a bowl, ensuring the garlic is mashed and mixed well. Set aside.

Heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and allow it to caramelise, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until fragrant then add curry leaves and stir for 1 minute.

Tip the onion mix into the saucepan of red lentils and stir. Add mashed eggplant, salt and garam masala and cook for a further 10 minutes. Season further if required.

Serve with brown rice, fresh herbs and tamarind chutney.