Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)

Chana Masala

Chana Masala (Chickpea curry)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
I started off with Hema's recipe but found it far too hot and corianderish (seed) for my personal taste. Also simplified greatly the roasting processes. I'm very happy with this recipe now. My ethnically/gastronomically-Indian partner just told me it tasted amazing, and exactly like that Chana Masala we had at that restaurant where we both thought was the best-tasting we've ever had so far in the healthy-food category. So I think my improving this recipe is over and it's time to share it with you 🙂 You'll need to make a trip to the local Indian/Asian shop to do full justice to any Indian cooking including this dish. These are the must-have Indian spices you'll only find in any Indian shops : asofetida & amchur (which is green/unripe mango powder). The rest is usually commonly found even in supermarkets.
Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole-food, plant-based
Cuisine: South Asian
Serves: 4~6 adult meals if served with rice
Ingredients
  • 3 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 3 large onions finely chopped
  • 220g of salt-free or low-salt tomato paste concentrate OR 1kg of grated tomatoes (to be reduced later)
  • A few stalks of fresh coriander (5 g)
WHOLE SPICES FOR ROASTING
  • 3 small sticks cinnamon (finger-sized or two inches)
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
OTHER SPICES
  • ¼th tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp grated ginger, densely packed
  • 1½ tsp turmeric
  • 1½ tsp cayenne (OR 1 fresh hot chilli halved lengthwise)
  • 1½ tsp unripe mango powder (look/ask for amchur in any Indian/South Asian shop, do not replace with mango!)
  • 2 Tbsp Garam Masala (or Make your own)
Instructions
  1. Put the soaked chickpeas to cook for 1h30 on medium heat in a regular pot (without a lid) or ~20 minutes in a pressure cooker. Do not stir them. They should be very soft and melt in the mouth when you press them with your tongue. Don't put too much water, ideally you wouldn't need to strain them later.
  2. Put some brown rice to cook as well to go with the Chana Masala later.
  3. Chop the coriander finely.
  4. Prepare the Garam Masala.
  5. Cut the onions finely. To save time, I use a mandoline to slice them, and a chopper (or a knife). Set aside.
  6. If you're using fresh tomatoes, grate them now to a purée. Set aside.
  7. Grate the ginger
  8. On low to medium heat, roast the spices "for roasting" for a few minutes. To prevent burning the the small/thin spices/herbs, put the biggest items first until roasted, then add the the smaller ones, so in this order: Cinnamon, cardamom, then bay leaves & cumin. Stir well, whenever it starts being fragrant and slightly smoking, add the onion immediately.
  9. Set the heat to the maximum and keep stirring the onions "dry". They will give off a lot of steam and start caramelizing.
  10. When the bottom of your pot starts being brown, reduce the heat to medium.
  11. Add either the grated tomatoes, or the tomato paste + ~1 litre of water.
  12. Add the "other spices" and the coriander, stir well and let cook for ~20 minutes. Stir now and then to prevent sticking at the bottom. Turn off the heat when the sauce is rather thick.
  13. Mix gently with the chickpeas. Enjoy!
Notes
Garnish with fresh coriander and slices of purple onion.
Serve either on rice or as a side with chapati (Indian wholemeal flatbread).

 

Banana & Blueberry Walnut Cake – Unprocessed – Extracted-Sugar-Free

banana-blueberry-cake-closeup-610
The last banana/walnut cake I had eaten was been pretty delicious, but unfortunately I found out it had some maple syrup and coconut oil, and was risen using baking powder. This means extracted sugar, fat and an artificial salt. That was too bad! But…on the good side, it was based on whole oats and bananas. That kept me pretty excited to make an irreproachably clean one since that day, and at long last, I did! See above!

“But…walnuts?”
We had walnuts (and others nuts) in the pantry that we have been barely touching since learning about how nuts are actually not all that great for health despite their being “whole-food fats”, especially when they’re so easy to abuse. It was a matter of time until we’d figure out ways to finish our stock in a way that wouldn’t be detrimental to our health…you know…like a raw cake! I can’t think of a better use for walnuts than in this cake. Even as little as 50g in one whole cake loaf makes a gorgeous difference. Trust me, you will feel the walnut taste! It’s wonderful without too.

muffin_inside_610“Rising a cake without baking powder nor baking soda?”
Yes Ma’am, Yes Sir!
How to use the walnuts being sorted out, I still had to figure out the right good dough consistency to improve on my previously tacky/goey cakes, and tadaaa…

Yeast just works. You just need to embrace a different relationship to time, and opt-out from instant-everything…Spend some quality time with your loved ones, or enjoy a long hot bath with your favourite music, while this beauty takes its time to rise.

Also, leave the sponge cake expectations in the dungeon, along with refined flours and artificial rising agents (mineral salts) it requires…Those are not food. Yeast is food that can rise other food.
Be thankful for that and make the best of it.

So here is a beautiful cake that uses only whole foods for sweetness, no oil, nor any artificial or sodium-containing ingredients.
This is as unprocessed as it gets folks…and I intend to keep it that way!

Banana & Blueberry Walnut Cake – Unprocessed – Extracted-Sugar-Free
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole-food, plant-based, no oil, sweetness from whole fruit, no salt
Serves: 1 loaf cake
Ingredients
  • 3 cups of wholegrain rolled oats (300g)
  • ½ cups chickpea flour or besan (40g) – relax, it doesn't give a chickpea taste 🙂
  • 3 tsp instant yeast (or 4 tsp of activated dried yeast, activated in as little water as possible)
  • 5 very ripe bananas (600g of banana flesh)
  • 1 + ½ cups frozen blueberries (180g) optional)
  • ⅓ cup walnuts (50g)
  • Sweet spices to taste (optional, I used 1 tsp of a mix of ground star anise and cinnamon that was sitting around)
  • For sweetening: 1 cup of currants.
Instructions
  1. Blend the rolled oats into a flour. Pour in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add chickpea flour, spices and instant yeast (if you're using that) and combine well.
  3. Peel and mash your bananas with your clean hands.
  4. Use some of the banana mash in the blender with ½ cup of currants and blend, add more banana mash if it's too dry.
  5. Pour back in the mixing bowl, if you're using activated dried yeast add it now, and mix with hands until you get a uniform dough.
  6. Add the frozen blueberries, the other ½ cup of currants (whole), and the walnuts and mix another couple of minutes to incorporate them nicely.
  7. Line your loaf tin with baking sheet, pour batter and let sit until it doubles volume. This will most definitely more than an hour because the frozen blueberries will keep the batter cold for a while, which prevents the yeast from making babies and bubbles. You might be able to save time by thawing first, the blueberries might get mashed and look messier.
  8. When the dough has risen, pre-heat oven at 180°C (360 °F) and bake for about 40 minutes. Use a knife or toothpick, when the cake is done baking, there will be some streaks almost transparent. It it comes out full of whitish dough it needs more baking.
  9. Let cool and enjoy.
Notes
If you are recovering cardiovascular disease or allergic to nuts, just skip the walnuts. I put blueberries and sweet spices so that it still remains exciting without walnuts.
We've had this plain and with our whole-food lemon and orange marmalades. It's delicious!
Finally, this works as a muffin batter too.

 

Low-fat Mayo, Aioli and Dips – Oil-free, Whole foods, Vegan

Traditionally mayos and aiolis rely heavily on loads of fat and animal protein.
A double punishment right from the start, only made worse by the fact that these dips serve to lubricate typically deep-fried “foods” like fries and wedges, a guaranteed stroke served on a golden platter.

Well…Good News! The experience of hot delicious, potato wedges dipped much generously in a delicious creamy aioli can be enjoyed not just in its vegan version, but also with hardly any fat at all – whether from oil, or from nuts!

GREEN BANANA AIOLI_610
So what’s the secret? Blend cooked starches! and I’ve been on a quest for good candidates in unexpected places!

Green bananas (as in unripe regular banana) are amazing bases for so many things. I used them for Ghanaian dishes as a plantain substitute for Kelewele and in Red-Red.
They’re quite bland, mildly sweet. Be reassured right away, they do not taste like banana at all. That’s precisely why they’re amazing. Both taste and texture are amazingly versatile.

This time around, I blended them, with a bit of roasted garlic flakes, some apple cider vinegar and a small amount of (optional) cashew nuts. Amazing low-fat aioli!

Make a good round of delicious, oil-free, nicely seasoned, potato wedges and enjoy!

Low-Fat Aioli – Oil-free, Whole Foods, Vegan
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
LOW-FAT AIOLI, makes 1 half-cup ++, enough for two people to dip a large round of parboiled+oven-baked, oil-free, potato wedges!
Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole-food plant nutrition, vegan, oil-free, sugar-free, salt-free
Cuisine: Western
Serves: 1 half-cup, enough for 2 people on potato wedges.
Ingredients
  • 1 green banana (not yellow!), cooked "Samoan-style" that is boiled whole (in its skin) for 30 minutes, drained, cooled, and peeled. Batch boil in a big pot to use for other things.
  • 1~2 tbsp dehydrated garlic flakes (not the fried ones), dry-roasted in a pan on low until golden/brown.
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lime/lemon juice ( or better with its flesh, not peel, lime peel is super bitter!)
  • Just enough water to blend.
  • Optional: 1 tbsp cashew nuts (7g), soaked. Must be skipped if you're recovering from any cardiovascular disease.
Instructions
  1. Blend
  2. Indulge
Notes
Play around with other flavours to make other exciting dips, mayos, bechamel sauces, etc: onion flakes, mustard seeds, chilli, lemon peel, etc...whatever health-promoting food makes your taste buds happy 🙂 Let loose the wild creative animal that you are!

[Recipe] Tomato sauce for Pizza – Low-fat – Unprocessed

pizza_sauce_610
As a kitchen-unskilled 20-year-old student on junk foods, I used to rely heavily on processed pasta sauces. I didn’t know any better.

The years passed, I slowly taught my way out of kitchen illiteracy. But one thing I kept wondering though is: “How on Earth do these  processed sauces get that wonderful Italian aroma of herbs?”. So I spied on the ingredients of tomato pastes I liked and always saw rosemary, oregano, thyme in the ingredients, among other things. But every time I used these, I ended up with a tomato paste so very bitter it was borderline inedible. The mystery was on: How to get authentic strong and appetising flavours and smell of aromatic in herbs in sauces. I soon found out by accident…

“How on Earth do these darn processed sauces get that wonderful Italian aroma of herbs?”

Why was it bitter instead of tasting/smelling of wonderful herbs?

Because oil! I figured that out only after ditching oil as part of going whole-food plant-based. It was the oil that completely ruined the Mediterranean taste of thyme, rosemary and oregano. Use those generously, and cook them in a water base,  and I promise that you will finally capture the essence of those delicious Italian smells and tastes.
These herbs are also a lot more forgiving in terms of taste when you put too much provided it’s in a water base.

[Recipe] Tomato sauce for Pizza – Low-fat – Unprocessed
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A sauce that has everything you want in a pizza base: it's thick, sweet, garlicky and tomatoey
Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole foods, plant nutrition, vegan, no oil, no salt, no sugar
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4 pizzas
Ingredients
  • 1 jar 500g of single-ingredient minimally-processed tomato paste (For NZ/OZ: Homebrand @Countdown/Woolworth contains salt at only 21mg sodium /100g), or the equivalent in home-reduced whole tomatoes (1.5 to 2kgs tomatoes gives 500 grams of reduced tomato paste)
  • 2 onions diced
  • 3~4 cloves of garlic chopped finely
  • 1 tsp rosemary (dried)
  • 1 tsp oregano (dried)
  • 1 tsp thyme (dried, rubbed)
  • Hot chilli: to taste.
  • Optional to adjust sweetness: Dates. If instead of sweet ripe tomatoes you get excuses for tomatoes, the hard unripe and sour stuff, you will need to balance out the sweetness. Maybe use up to ~50g dates blended until smooth with as little water as possible. To taste.
  • Optional to adjust sourness: Tamarind, lemon, or apple cider vinegar. If you get a very sweet batch of tomatoes, or like sourness, maybe use up to 1 tbsp single-ingredient tamarind paste (sweet and sour). To taste.
Instructions
  1. Cook all ingredients (except tomato paste and dates) on low-fire with as little water as possible.
  2. You want to keep this as thick as possible so this is the trick that I use: When the ingredients above are soft, use the cooking water (cooled) to blend dates.
  3. Pour the blended dates back in the pot, throw in the tomato paste and keep on the lowest setting with no cover for it to lose moisture and become thick.
Notes
Optional: If you have time, you can caramelise the onions + garlic first, by water-frying them (no oil) on slightly less than medium heat.

[Recipe] Khadija’s Moroccan Lentils – Oil-free – Unprocessed – Vegan

preserved-lemon-alternativepreserved lemon alternative copy

Khadija's Moroccan Lentils – Oil-free – Unprocessed – Vegan
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: low-fat, whole-food, plant-based, vegan, no oil, no salt, no sugar
Cuisine: Moroccan
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 440g dry lentils, preferably Puy lentils / French lentils soaked overnight.
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 20 g coriander (a few sprigs), chopped
  • 20 g parsley (a few sprigs), chopped
  • zest of half a lemon, sliced off with a knife (only the yellow part, not the white inside) and cut in small bits. Do not grate!
Spices
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground chilli
Instructions
  1. Water-fry the onions until caramelised/browned. If you want to save time, skip caramelisation, just put the onions in the pot.
  2. Immediately add tomatoes, enough water for the spices to be in generous amounts of water (about 1 cup or ~ 230mL should do)
  3. Add all the spices and lemon, stir well, cover, set on medium heat and let boil for 5~10 min.
  4. Add the lentils, stir well, and fill the pot with enough water to cover a few centimetres over the top of the lentil surface.
  5. Cover only until it starts to boil, then let cook on medium heat for until the lentils are soft.
  6. Check now and then if more water is needed. You want to end with creamy lentils like in the picture, not watery nor dry either.
  7. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  8. Add the chopped greens (coriander + parsley) and stir.
Notes
Feel free to play around with adding the following (to taste):
Some salt-free concentrated tomato paste that uses only tomatoes, or more tomatoes well reduced.
Carrots
Celery
Baked shiitake mushrooms (chopped) for a bit of a chew, or other mild-tasting mushrooms. If using shiitake mushrooms, make sure to bake them first, otherwise their taste would be overpowering and throw the flavours off-balance.