Plant Based 411
Try Some Tikka Today
By Nancy Eisman
While I love the flavors and fragrance of Indian food, the heat/spiciness is often too hot for my tongue to handle. By taking control of the heat with my own hands, the results are just perfect for my delicate palate.
Tikka Masala is a creamy, tomato filled dish that originated on the Indian subcontinent, or in an Indian restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland, depending on which Google resource you believe. Considered a British national dish, and anything exalted by the country that gave us The Beatles can surely be trusted, you have to get TM into your life.
My version chucks out the standard chicken and swaps in chunks of plant-based approved, tender Indian Eggplant and Garbanzo Beans. The creaminess is courtesy of coconut milk, the red hue is from the tomatoes and red Hatch chile powder, and the awesome aromatics are supplied by onions, fresh ginger, turmeric, garlic, and ground cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper. As much salt as you like to boost the fantastic flavors, and as much fresh cilantro as you like to add freshness and great color, finishes the dish. You can also add a pinch or two of brown sugar for a sweet balance.
If you aren’t a fan of eggplant, some great substitutions would be baby Dutch Yellow® potatoes, cauliflower, tofu, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, green beans or snap peas, or whatever stand-up vegetable you like. If you can stand some extra heat, feel free to add in some diced jalapeño or another fresh chile when adding the garlic. Traditionally served with rice, I say why not use couscous, quinoa, or polenta for a bit of global co-existence. We’ve got to start somewhere.
Indian Eggplant & Garbanzo Bean Tikka Masala
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cups yellow onion, diced
6 Indian eggplants, cubed
2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
2 tablespoons fresh minced turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 package garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 package baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (not lite, unsweetened)
2 tablespoons masala, or 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon Hatch chile powder (red), or to taste
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro stems, chopped
Sea salt, to taste
1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Heat the oil in a large sauté or sauce pan over medium heat.
When the oil is sizzling, add the onion and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the eggplant, paprika, turmeric and ginger and continue cooking about 5 minutes until the eggplant is tender.
Add the garbanzo beans, baby heirloom tomatoes and the garlic, stir to combine and cook 2 minutes.
Add the masala or alternate spices and stir to incorporate.
Add the crushed tomatoes and the coconut milk and stir well to combine.
Bring the mixture to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes.
Add sea salt and adjust seasonings to taste.
Remove from heat and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
Serve with rice, couscous, quinoa, polenta, or whatever you like. Smashed or mashed potatoes would work too.