Try this vegan curry to warm up wintry nights

Hot on the heels of National Curry Week, held earlier this month, we continue the celebration of this versatile dish, with a recommended vegan option.

The special week to celebrate all things curry was founded by the late Peter Grove, a prominent journalist who had fallen in love with curry.

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His vision was to drive awareness and appreciation of the burgeoning Indian restaurant industry, while also raising funds for charity.

It has often been said that curry is the ‘national dish’ of Britain, with curry houses proving themselves a staple of the high street since the 1970s.

As millions of curries are consumed every single week, National Curry Week gives an opportunity for the British to foster their ongoing fascination with the food.

With the extensive use of herbs and spices, vegan curries have become a popular healthier, but equally as tasty, alternative to meat dishes, and chilly autumn is the perfect time to try something new.

Marlene Watson-Tara, author of the definitive vegan book Go Vegan, said: “Many people are turning to a vegan diet in the desire to live a healthier life, with a focus on wholegrain, beans, vegetables from land and sea, fruits, nuts and seeds, and these ingredients work particularly well in spicy curries.”

Marlene suggests trying her red lentil coconut curry, a warming curry in the South Indian style, flavoured with aromatic fresh ginger, cumin and coriander.

It’s made extra creamy and luscious thanks to the addition of organic coconut milk.Recipe as follows:

Red Lentil Coconut Curry (makes four to six servings)

3 shallots, finely chopped1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced2 cloves garlic, minced1 tsp cumin seeds1 tsp mild curry powder½ tsp ground coriander½ tsp turmericPinch sea salt2 cups filtered water1½ cups red lentils1 cup organic coconut milk2 medium-sized courgettes, diced into half inch (one cm) pieces1 or 2 tbsp tamari1 cup loosely packed fresh coriander leaves, choppedLime slices

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In a heavy-based pan, cook the shallots, ginger and garlic in a splash of filtered water for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.Add the spices and salt and stir well.Stir in the water, lentils and coconut milk.Allow the mixture to simmer over a low flame, covered, whilst stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.Stir in the courgette and tamari, cover and cook until courgette and lentils are tender.Add more water to reach the desired consistency.Taste-test then stir in the coriander.Serve the curry with white or brown basmati rice to round out this comforting meal.

There is an endless choice of ways to enjoy healthy eating with curries.

It is the ‘sides’ or additions to main dishes that can add on the calories, with chapatis, naan breads and deep-fried foods all contributing to less healthy options.

To be sure your curry is the quality you aspire to, choose to cook it yourself. That way, you know exactly what its ingredients are, and if you eat the curry with wholemeal rice, so much the better.

It is really easy to pack a whole variety of vegetables into different styles of curries, and along with adding taste, colour and texture, they will add to your daily dose of vitamins and help boost your immune system.

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