Recipe: Vegan Chickpea & Coconut Curry

Now, I’m not a vegan, I’m not a vegetarian. I love meat, and I also find I need it in my diet. When I was in my poorest years of university I rarely ate meat and it showed – I was tired, grumpy and I just didn’t function as well. That said, over the last year or so I’ve been pushing myself to cut out meat more. At least one meal a week is veggie, and I try my hardest not to eat meat for weekday breakfast and lunches (unless I’m taking leftovers in a lunchbox).

 photo Vegan Curry_zpsvpescgd7.jpgAnd do you know what? I’ve really enjoyed it. We’ve made some absolutely delicious recipes that have become firm favourites – and this is one of them. I’ve had it sitting in my drafts for a while (hence the slightly over-edited photos, shooting at 8pm in February wasn’t easy!) and yet I’m not sure why. It’s delicious! Creamy and hearty, whilst still being light and healthy.

If you want to up the vitamins even more, you could make with a tin a chopped tomatoes (or add some fresh ones) but for obvious reasons I don’t! It’s also good with sweet potatoes or butternut squash – in the photos here I added a small potato that needed using up. Of course, if you aren’t a vegetarian or vegan it would be delicious with meat. I’ve added some leftover roast chicken with great results! Non-vegans could also replace the coconut milk with a few spoons of natural yoghurt.

 photo Vegan Chickpea Curry 5_zpslc5mxyxl.jpgIngredients (makes 4-5 good-sized servings – enough for a dinner and a few days lunches for the two of us, it freezes well too)

  • 3 white onions
  • 2 sticks celery
  • Ginger (around the size of your thumb, peeled)
  • 1 red/yellow/orange pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic (reduce if you’re not a huge fan!)
  • 1 chilli (taste it to test how hot it is!)
  • Spices – I used 1 large tsp each of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, tumeric, garam masala, ground coriander, and ground fenugreek, but even a few spoons of curry powder will do!
  • 2 tins of chickpeas
  • 50g dried lentils
  • Any veg needing using up – sweet potatoes, squash etc.
  • 500ml vegan-friendly stock
  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • 1 small bag of spinach, chopped, or 5-6 cubes of frozen spinach (if using frozen spinach, be wary about freezing leftover portions!)
  • 1 pack fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Roughly chop 2 of the onions, the celery, ginger, pepper, garlic and chilli. Fry in a little oil for 5 or so minutes until softened, then tip into a blender and blitz until smooth. Meanwhile finely slice the remaining onion and fry until starting to soften. Add the spices and fry for 2-3 minutes or until aromatic and toasted. Add the puree, along with the chickpeas, lentils, veg and stock before simmering for around 30 minutes. At this point, most of the stock should have evaporated, though if it’s starting to catch add a little more.

Stir through the coconut milk gradually (so it doesn’t split) and warm on a low heat for around 5 minutes. Add the spinach and most of the coriander. Continue cooking until the spinach is wilted, check seasoning, and then served garnish with the remaining coriander and some almonds, if liked.

 photo Vegan Chickpea Curry 1_zpsrxlcuknv.jpgHere I’ve served with cauliflower rice (simply whizz up some raw cauli in a mini-chopped, then fry with a little garlic for around 5 minutes or until cooked), but my favourite is to toss florets of cauliflower with a little oil and some tumeric, then roast for 20 minutes. Yum! If course, you could use normal rice too – and I can never say no to a good naan bread…

What’s your favourite curry recipe? What veggie meals do you recommend?

Recipe: Chicken’n’Chips

 photo 2014-04-05194427_zpsa27c8742.jpgAs a student I can’t afford takeaways, and whilst I’m generally not into them (what with allergies it’s often easier to cook for myself!) I do get cravings for a good KFC occasionally. A few weeks ago I was running down the contents of my freezer in preparation for my Easter holiday and found a chicken breast, so decided to make my own fakeaway style chicken and chips.

I made up my recipe as I went, not really expecting it to taste as good as it did. When it turned out to be one of the best meals I’d had in a while I knew I had to share it with you, so here it is! Its relatively quick and very easy, and it cuts out the flour-egg-breadcrumbs faff of most breaded chicken recipes, so its a definite winner if like me you dislike handling raw chicken. You can also completely adjust the seasonings to your taste – I went for spicy chicken here, but it would be equally good with something milder, or you could even go down the BBQ seasoning route…I’ve even made sure there’s something resembling a serving of vegetables on the side!

 photo 2014-04-05193251_zps5537c7e5.jpgFor The Chips

  • One large potato, skin on, cut into wedges/slices/chips
  • Seasoning – I went for salt, pepper, mixed herbs and some Cajun seasoning

For The Chicken

  • One chicken breast, cut into strips or chunks
  • A splash of sauce – you could use ketchup, pesto or something similar, but I used Wahaca’s Chipotle Sauce
  • Breadcrumbs – I used ones from a tub

And For The Concession to ‘Healthiness’ – Coleslaw

  • A handful of red cabbage, sliced finely
  • 1 large carrot, sliced finely or peeled using a julienne peeler (I love mine!)
  • 1/4 of an onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • A splash of lemon juice

Let’s Get Faking our Chicken’n’Chips!

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  1. Heat your oven to 220C. Cover a tray with foil, spray with a little oil, and place in the oven to heat up.
  2. First, boil the sliced potatoes in salted water for 5-8 minutes. Drain, then tip onto a plate and sprinkle with plenty of your chosen seasoning, and toss together. Place on the hot tray (remember to leave room for the chicken).
  3. Now prep your chicken. Cover the chicken in your chosen sauce, then cover with breadcrumbs. Make sure the chicken is covered all over.
  4. After the potatoes have been cooking for 10 minutes, turn them, add the chicken to the tray, and spray the chicken with a little more oil.
  5. Cook for 15-20 more minutes, until the chicken is cooking through. You may want to shake the pan in the middle of cooking in case the chicken starts to stick to the foil.
  6. Whilst the chicken is covering, make the coleslaw. Put all the veg on a plate, add the mayo and lemon juice, and mix together. I find using my hands is the easiest way to do this. Transfer to a bowl and keep in the fridge until everything is ready.
  7. Serve, preferably in front of a film or some cheesy Saturday night TV.

 photo 2014-04-05194432_zpsef4b9bf9.jpgI find this makes the chicken incredibly well flavoured, and you can adjust the seasoning for your own tastes. Its such an easy way to create crispy chicken and spiced wedges, so I highly suggest giving it a go!

Do you cook fakeaways?