Lots of people are exploring the idea of going vegan, or at least having more plant-based meals. To make a really good dish using only 5 ingredients, though, usually involves a clever shortcut or what I call a “flavor bomb.” Natural, good-quality teriyaki marinade, salsa, and barbecue sauce are among the shortcuts I’ve relied on, combined with fresh produce and plant proteins, to create nearly instant meals.
The recipe presented following uses one of my newest, and most favorite shortcut/flavor bombs—a ready-made Indian simmer sauce. I’ve always been too lazy to roast and grind and mix and measure all the myriad spices that add up to the amazing flavors in Indian dishes. Indian simmer sauces, which are relatively new on the market, have been a game-changer for me. Look for them in the international foods aisles in supermarkets and natural foods stores.
Varieties come in a range of vegan options from mild to spicy, including Goan coconut, Kashmir curry, Jalfrezi, and Madras curry. Some of them include dairy, so check labels. Some of the key ingredients in the vegan sauces are coconut milk, tomato, ginger, garlic, and of course, lots of spices. Whatever you add these sauces to will take on the rich, complex flavors that can otherwise only be experienced at fine Indian restaurants.
So next time someone tells you they’d like to make more vegan meals, but it all seems too complicated, time-consuming, and expensive, send them my way. I’ll show them a trick or two.
Recipe excerpted from 5-Ingredient Vegan:175 Simple, Plant-Based Recipes for Delicious, Healthy Meals in Minutes (Sterling Epicure, 2019) by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky.
If you crave Indian flavors, you now have an option other than going out to eat or take-out—just grab a jar of Indian simmer sauce. This dish takes only about ten minutes to make, even if you move at a glacial pace. Serve with a simple salad and a fresh flatbread or cooked grain.
Serves: 3 to 4
Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large or two medium tomatoes, diced
12-ounce jar or container Indian simmer sauce (see Note)
4 to 5 ounces baby spinach
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Combine the chickpeas, tomato, and sauce in a pan and heat to a simmer.
Add the spinach, cover, and cook until it wilts down. Then, stir it all in.
Stir in the cilantro and serve.
Note: For this dish, I usually choose Madras Curry, which is fairly spicy. You can use any other vegan variety of this kind of sauce you prefer. Goan coconut, tikka masala, and jalfrezi are usually vegan, but check labels to make sure.
5-Ingredient Vegan is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.
Nava Atlas is the author of many bestselling vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, including Wild About Greens, Vegan Holiday Kitchen, Plant Power and many others, including the latest, 5-Ingredient Vegan. Nava also creates visual books on women’s issues and runs two websites, The Vegan Atlas and Literary Ladies Guide. You can follow The Vegan Atlas on Facebook and Instagram @TheVeganAtlas.