I love going to Indian restaurants because they offer a great choice of vegetarian food and they’re happy to let you order a selection of side dishes so that you can mix and match. I can happily peruse the menu, taking ages to make up my mind, knowing that the next time I visit I can try something different. I always avoid anything called ‘vegetable curry’ – I want to know what the vegetables are; after all, who would eat ‘meat curry’ without being a little dubious about what might be served up?
Lots of veggie dishes can be quick to cook or prepared in advance and it’s well known that many taste even better the next day, so ideal for busy pubs, cafes and restaurants. Whilst we’re waiting for them to catch on, below are three recipes for you to try out, especially if you’ve had enough of Christmas leftovers.
Each dish is delicious on its own, but even better when cooked together and served with chapati or naan to create an Indian feast. Every time I have cooked the red lentil dish, friends have asked me for the recipe, so I hope you enjoy it too. Do send any feedback about what works and what doesn’t or alternatives that you would like me to consider adding to this site. I think the chickpea and tomato curry would work well on a pub menu – be great after a long walk on a wintery day.
As with all spicy food, adjust the seasoning to suit your taste and spice upwards……gradually.
Jill Pitt, our resident nutritionist says, ” these are recipes to get your pulses racing”
What are pulses?
Beans, lentils (red, green, yellow and brown ones) and chickpeas are all members of the pulses family.
Why are they good for you?
As well as being a great source of low-fat protein, pulses are high in fibre and contain considerable amounts of iron, in fact, these little characters are one of the best sources of iron for non-meat eaters. They are cheap as well. So what’s not to like?
The sciency bit
Iron is an essential mineral that has very important roles in the body; the main one being helping to make red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body which in turn prevents iron-deficiency anaemia. Symptoms of a diet low in iron include: tiredness, lethargy and an inability to concentrate.
Fibre is needed by our bodies to keep our digestive system healthy, particularly the small and large intestine and the bowels.
Protein is needed to build and repair the tissues in the body.
Other great sources of iron
Dried fruits such as apricots, raisins, sultanas
Dark green vegetables such as okra, watercress, spring and winter greens, broccoli
Myth buster – Everyone thinks that spinach contains a lot of iron but it contains a substance that can make it harder for the body to absorb it.
Top Tips for healthier curries
- Swap cream for half-fat crème fraiche
- Use coconut cream sparingly as this is high in fat
- Add grated carrot or red/green peppers to lentil curries (dhal) for added vitamins and fibre
- Swap white rice for brown
- Try wholegrain breads such as pittas instead of Naan
- Be portion wise
- No need for salt. Spices, garlic and ginger can be used to oomph up the flavour
- Go easy on the amount of oil you use when frying. If possible dry-fry spices to seal in their aromatic flavours