Put down the takeaway menu. It's time to master vibrant Indian food in your own kitchen
It's time to retire the takeaway menu to the very bottom of the kitchen drawer. Yes, really.
Health-conscious Indian chef Mira Manek is on a one-woman mission to get the curry-obsessed British public to take a walk on the lighter side of spice.
"India has so many regional variations food-wise, but people think it's just what you get down the local Tandoori restaurant. I want to show that, in essence, Indian food is light, nutritious and delicious," she says.
Here's her crash course in getting it right.
1. Think simple swaps
"A teaspoon or two of oil is enough to get your spices frying – and try coconut rather than vegetable. Swap cream for natural yogurt and if the recipe lists sugar, use a squeeze of honey instead."
2. Be balanced
"A balanced meal contains protein with your veg, so in Indian food lentil-rich dhaal is important. Split peas are great too, as is a curry full of beans. Try batch-cooking lentils and freezing them, so they're ready to be whipped into something great after work."
3. Keep it spicy
"Turmeric is a great spice for boosting a dish's nutritional credentials: cumin, coriander powder, mustard seeds and cumin seeds are vital for getting that authentic flavour."
4. Make it speedy
"The base of most curry dishes is a blitz of ginger, garlic and chilli. Again, make a load of this at the same time in your food processor and keep it in the freezer. For a simple dish, fry a dollop of it then add a blend of spices like turmeric, cumin and mustard seeds. Next, dice some veg like aubergine and peppers, add a tin of tomatoes and simmer."
5. Don't forget about snacks
"Healthier Indian food doesn't need to be limited to dinner ideas. Try making my spice bite energy balls: just whizz up some dates, almond butter, cinnamon and fresh ginger in a food processor. Roll the mix into little portions and cover in coconut flakes, if you like. Then store in an airtight container and eat within a week. Perfect 4pm fodder."
Try this exclusive recipe: Mira's sweet and spice sweetcorn bowl
This midweek meal, created exclusively for Homemade, is speedy, colourful and tasty. Tupperware-up any leftovers for tomorrow's al-desko lunch.
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp coarse ground peanuts
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 2 tbsp tinned chopped tomatoes, optional
- ½ red pepper, chopped
- ½ medium courgette, chopped
- 1 tin sweetcorn (approx. 340g), drained
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Juice of ½ lime
- 1 tsp honey, for sweetness (optional)
1. Warm the coconut oil in a pan on low heat and add the cumin seeds. Once the cumin is brown (this should take about a minute), add the chopped onion and stir until the onion is cooked/slightly brown.
2. Now add the ground peanuts, tomatoes and tinned tomatoes, red pepper and courgette and stir together for a minute. The tinned tomatoes just add a little more liquid and gravy.
3. Add the drained sweetcorn, salt, pepper and lime, and let this cook for another minute before serving. Stir through a little honey for sweetness, if you fancy.
Like this? Then try these:
- Cook the perfect curry
- It's time to pair Indian food and curry. Oh, yes
- Guess which curry is the nation's favourite
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