Indian for Dinner - Naan with Curried Sabji

I have been practicing yoga for most of my life, as my mom is a yoga practitioner and an Ayurvedic healer. That also means I’ve been eating Indian food, a lot. Problem is, it may not necessarily agree with me, if I can put it in gentle terms. I am very sensitive to spicy foods, or as I call myself, quite a wimp! I can’t stomach more than two flakes of chilly in my curry without blowing my mouth and drinking tons of water, all the time complaining how spicy it is.

Even though I’ve been familiar with Indian food for a long time, I still consider it to be quite exotic and a cuisine to steal secrets from. It could not be more distinct than the national Croatian cuisine. I love shopping at India shops and I believe in Ayurvedic food combining and eating according to your dosha.

Once in a while, I whip out an Indian inspired dish. I eat basmati rice a lot, and use spices like turmeric on a daily basis. This dish came to be after seeing whole-wheat naan bread in the new Trader Joe’s newsletter (yes, I am one of the people that reads that with pleasure!).

What I love about this meal is that it consists of regular veggies you can pick up at your local market (read: no Indian specialty foods, like okra or bitter melon; neither of which I’m a fan of). I used mainly familiar spices, and you can make it as spicy or mellow as you want. Best of all, it is super quick to make, unlike a lot of traditional dishes, such as samosas or koftas, which are delicious but will take an afternoon in the kitchen to prepare.

Whole Wheat Naan with Curried Sabji

Sabji is a mixed veggie preparation, that is usually made nice and juicy in a tomato, or cream sauce. There are many varieties of Sabji out there, from potato, to cauliflower and peas, to okra Sabji (there’s okra again. I just don’t like it). Sabji is usually prepared by heating up many traditional Indian spices, such as kumin and mustard seeds, in oil, and then frying, stir frying or grilling veggies of your choice. Even though it’s a veggie dish, it can be quite heavy depending on the condiments, oil and sauces.

Chickpeas are definitely one of my favorite beans, and you will find them in many Indian preparations. Not only are they eaten in veggie dishes, or mixed with rice, but the chickpea flower is quite an essential ingredient of this oriental cuisine. It creates wonderful dishes such as pakoras, fried veggies dipped in chickpea flower batter.

Naan topped with Sabji

{vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, low fat, low sugar}

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup chickpeas (1/2 package from Whole Foods, I use the paper one, not the can)
  • 3-4 romanesco broccoli florets
  • 3-4 cauliflower florets
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/4 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes
    For the Sauce:

  • 3-4 tbsp tomato marinara or ketchup

  • 1/4 cup vegan cheese (I used Mozzarella shreds from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2-3 tbsp vegan cream cheese (I like most of them, used Daiya)
  • pinch yellow curry powder
  • pinch turmeric
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • pinch salt
  • water as needed
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. I used prepackaged chickpeas as I do not have the time and energy to cook them from scratch. If you are cooking yours, I suggest making them a day early or giving yourself at least 2 hours. Otherwise, rinse your prepackaged beans till there is no more foam around them.
  2. Cut up your veggies in smaller pieces, I like my carrots in long strips for Sabji.
  3. Heat up the pan and add a spoon full of coconut oil. Once hot (you can test by dipping a veggie or splashing water - just kidding!), add your curry and stir till browned, about 30 seconds to a minute. If you are not an expert in heating up spices, I suggest you skip this step and add them at the end.
  4. Add your broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, stir then cover and reduce heat to medium-high.
  5. After about 2-3 minutes, add your chickpeas so they can get a bit of a crunch. Cook uncovered till the end, so the veggies can maintain their crunch. Do not overcook!
  6. Add peas and tomato, cook for about a minute, then stir in the rest of your spices and combine thoroughly.
  7. Add your marinara and cheeses, and if it is too dry or sticky, add water. Stir till the cheese is melted, and you are done!
    Whole Wheat Naan

If you can make your own, kudos to you. That is the best option by far! I used the Whole Wheat Naan from Trader Joe’s, and it is quite tasty and super quick to prepare (here is where the quickness of this meal comes from). I dry heated mine on a flat pan for about 3 minutes per side. If you want a Gluten-free preparation, you can replace Naan with a rice or corn flour tortilla, but the meal won’t be as Indian anymore.

Side Green Salad

Because no meal should be eaten without some fresh raw veggies. Mixed baby greens, cucumbers, lemon juice and olive oil. I have found light green salads to be the key in digesting Indian food! And you will find that traditional Indian cuisine doesn’t make much room for fresh raw salads. When I was in India, they would serve me three slices of tomatoes and three of cucumbers, on the side of rice, flat bread and the most spicy sabji you have ever eaten in your life, and called it a salad. I laugh at that till this day (I was crying about it in India, though).

I am sure that even those despising Indian food will love this recipe! Make it your own by adding your choice of veggies or beans, and be light on cayenne - you can always add more if you want (but you can’t subtract)!

Bon Appetit or कृपया भोजन शुरू कीजियै !

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