Have yourself a healthy curry for a change

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Jan 13, 2016 by Aman

Yes, you really can have a healthy curry. A healthier one, in any case. The trouble is, when we buy readymade sauces or takeaways, we have absolutely no control over the quantities of salt and fat that are added to make them tasty, and this is not good news for our bellies.

The curry below is dhal-based; the body of the sauce is made from red/orange lentils, full of fibre, but you can add as many vegetables as you feel you want.

Onions make or break your curry

Cook the onions properly. Once you've managed that, the rest will follow much more easily.

Dice a couple of onions and heat about two to three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan. This might seem like a lot of oil, but extra virgin olive oil is like detergent for the arteries, and it tastes great. Ghee or clarified butter is the traditional fat used in curries, but it isn't quite as good for you.

Add the onions to the hot oil, and keep the heat low to medium. Stir the onions around until they become yellowy-golden and translucent. It should take around 15 to 20 minutes, which is why the heat shouldn't be too high.

Add the spices carefully

When the onions are at the required texture, add a couple of crushed garlic cloves and a one-inch length of peeled, grated, fresh ginger root. Fry briefly in the pan for about one minute, and add a couple of tablespoons of your favourite spice paste or powder. Take the pan off the heat and whizz the spices around the onions for about 30 seconds.

Cook down into goodness

Add a few handfuls of red lentils and fill the pan with water until it's about an inch off the top. You might need to add more water later as it will absorb into the lentils, but don't be afraid to put too much in at this stage.

Sprinkle a stock cube into the water, or just add salt for flavour, and cook on a low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked and soft. Add a few chopped tomatoes if you like.

If you want to add vegetables such as green and red peppers to the sauce, you should do this after you've blended the lentils. Just cook it gently with the pieces of veg for another 20 minutes.

Eat your curry with wonderful additions

This curry goes beautifully with chicken or salmon tikka, and rice or naan bread. All you need is a piece of chicken or salmon. Mix up a couple of tablespoons of curry powder with half a pot of plain yoghurt, a squirt of lemon juice and about a tablespoon of olive oil, and coat the meat or fish liberally in the marinade. You can leave it in the fridge overnight or for as little as 20 minutes.

Oven-bake until it's cooked and there are only clear juices running from it. The fish will take a lot less time than chicken, so if you're having chicken with your curry, you can cook it on 200 degrees Celsius while the lentils are cooking, and it should be ready about the same time.