Holiday Recipe: Vegetarian Tikka Masala

This is a vegetarian adaptation from the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution cookbook. It’s fast and easy to make, and wonderfully warming to your palate and your heart. Perfect for a holiday vacation meal when you don’t want to work too hard. Enjoy the aroma as you play with your presents or read a book. Best wishes for a wonderful New Year!

2 medium onions
Medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed  NOTE:  Go ahead and buy the precut stuff if your store has it. It will make your life much easier.
Medium or large box of fresh spinach
1 fresh red chile (optional)
A thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
Small bunch of fresh cilantro
Peanut or vegetable oil
Pat of butter
½ cup tikka masala or mild curry paste, such as Patak’s
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 – 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 – 14 oz. can of coconut milk
1 – 14 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
1 – 14 oz. vegetable broth  NOTE:  I use hot water and Rapunzel vegetarian bouillon cubes if I don’t have real broth or stock. Do not use the stuff that comes in cans or cartons. It adds an off-flavor to your food.
1 cup plain organic yogurt
Handful (1/8 c.) sliced almonds  toast them in a pan on the stove for a few minutes until they are golden.
1 lemon

2-3 cups uncooked brown basmati or jasmine rice

1. Prepare rice in a rice cooker, stove top or the oven.
2. Peel, remove seeds and cube the squash if you didn’t buy pre-cubed.
3. Peel, halve and finely slice the onions.
4. Peel and finely slice the ginger.
5. Pluck the leaves from the cilantro and set aside. Finely chop the stalks.
6. Gently toast the slivered almonds in a small pan on the stove until they turn golden brown, or toast in a 375 degree oven for 5 minutes. Watch them to make sure they don’t burn.
7. Heat a big stock or soup pot or casserole-type pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes and add a couple tablespoons oil and the butter.
8. Add the onions, chile, ginger and coriander stalks and cook for 10 minutes until softened and golden.
9. Add the curry paste, squash cubes and drained chick peas. Stir well to coat everything with the paste and season with salt and pepper.
10. Add the tomatoes and the coconut milk. If it seems too thick, you can add the broth at this point. Start with half of it.
11. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer for about 15-20 minutes with the lid on. Check the squash for doneness.
12.  Remove the lid and cook for another 5 – 15 minutes until the squash is soft and almost ready to eat. Add more broth as needed if it starts to get too thick.
13.  In the last 5 minutes, add the spinach a bit at a time and stir into the mixture. It will wither down very quickly and then you are ready to eat!
14.  Remove the lid and cook for another 5 – 15 minutes until the squash is soft and almost ready to eat. Add more broth as needed if it starts to get too thick.
15. Serve over rice with a few spoonfuls of yogurt. Sprinkle the almonds and cilantro leaves over the top and squeeze a lemon wedge over all.

Serves 4 – 6