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I am about to share with you my favourite secret ingredient: curry paste!
Believe it or not, curry is not a spice! It’s a blend of many spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika, and something to give it a kick such as dried red peppers. Since you can’t control the amount of each spice in the blend, most chefs prefer to either make their own pre-made blend or add the individual spices while cooking. But when I discovered Patak’s curry paste for the first time, It was like a
yellow turmeric brick road to easy Indian cooking for eternity!
Back then my choices were limited to either “hot” or “mild” curry pastes. But now their line has expanded to not just different kinds of curry pastes, but also sauces, pickles and chutney! You can find a list of their vegan products on their website: here!
Well now that you know my favourite secret ingredient, let’s get cooking!
Hurried Curried Gardein
1 pkg gardein chik’n strips
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 inch ginger root, finely chopped
2 tbsp Patak’s mild curry paste
2 tbsp Patak’s hot (or Madras) curry paste
14 oz can whole tomatoes
14 oz can chickpeas
1 cup cashew cream (1/2 cup raw cashews + water)
1 cup roasted/salted cashews
15 fresh dates, pitted (or raisins)
The ingredients I use at the end need to be ready to go, so I prep them before I start cooking. I start by making the cashew cream, which is super easy! Grind the raw cashews in a coffee grinder to a fine meal and add enough water to make a total of 1 cup and whisk vigorously with a fork and voila you have cashew cream! Remove the pits from your fresh dates and cut or tear each date into 3 or 4 pieces. You can substitute raisins or even chopped granny smith apples for the dates, but I just love dates so much that I can’t even imagine this dish without the dates!!! Chop and mince the rest of the ingredients and lets start cooking!
In a large fry ing pan, fry the frozen gardein strips for a total of 5 minutes in olive oil on medium/high heat. Remove the strips onto a plate, add some more olive oil to the pan and sauté the onions for 5 minutes; add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and since the paste is somewhat oily you can stir and fry the onion mixture in the curry paste for a bit before adding the can of tomatoes. At the same time add 1 cup of water to the pan. Stir and add the chickpeas. Cook on medium/low heat for about 5 – 7 minutes, and stir ocasionaly. Add the dates, the roasted cashews and the gardein strips to the pan and stir to incorporate all the ingredients and distribute the heat to the added ingredients. By now the sauce should be drying out a bit and this is the perfect time to add the cashew cream. The cashew cream may have settled, so before you add it, whisk it vigorously again with a fork and add to the pan and stir. Let the sauce be thoroughly heated, and then it’s ready to be eaten!
Before serving, taste the sauce to make sure the spiciness is to your liking. You can add more cashew meal right in to the pan if it’s too spicy for you.
I’ve used a combination of both mild and hot curry paste because some of the family members can’t handle the heat, but I also didn’t want it to be too whimpy! If you like it hot, then by all means use only hot curry paste…but be forewarned that it’s gonna be really HOT! If you want just the aroma of curry and not spicy at all, then just use mild curry paste. Keep in mind that the cashew cream offsets the spiciness and you can control the heat to some extent by adding more cashew meal.
Serve over basmati rice with some papadoms or naan. I should warn you however that eating this dish may suddenly cause you to stop traffic in the middle of rush hour and dance to Bollywood tunes while professing your love to your sweetheart! Of course just the aroma of your fantastic Hurried Curried Gardein will propel your co-workers or neighbours to be your backup singers and dancers! So be aware of these side effects and contact a professional if they last more than 4 hours!
The effects of a good curry: “Jab We Met”