One of my favourite ways to spend an evening with my dear friend Pem is in the kitchen. We have had cooking dates since we first became friends in high school, trying this recipe of her mum’s for a party, or that recipe in a cookbook that got one of us really excited. It’s the perfect way for two old friends to spend some time together, chat, giggle, and end up with something delicious at the end.
But the problem is that Pem and I haven’t lived in the same city for a while, and I have been missing our real-life cooking dates.
So I got us both copies of my new favourite vegan cookbook: , so that we could cook the same recipes together in our own kitchens — and still feel like we’re having cooking dates. To take the idea one step further, we thought we’d try a FaceTime cooking date. And if you want a ridiculously good time with a far-away friend, this is the way to do it!
Even if sometimes you walk off camera:
Every recipe in the book looks divine. And everything I’ve tried has been great (now I need to make that Hot & Sour Soup again!), so it was tough to narrow it down to just one recipe. Pem and I finally decided on something not too difficult for our first date (as we wanted to try out the logistics of a FaceTime cooking date as much as the recipe itself): Isa’s Coconut Chana Saag. It’s a fabulous recipe (and Isa’s version on the Guardian in full), and Pem and I were talking about why we were drawn to it.
We both cook a lot of curry. She and her mum taught me to cook Indian food, so I do things their way, and most curry bases start pretty similarly: cook your onions, garlic & ginger in some fat, add spices and toast, then add your stuff and your sauce. So looking at Isa’s recipe, there wasn’t much that we didn’t already do — but for one huge thing: the sauce in this curry comes from a can of coconut milk + a can of tomatoes + fresh lime juice. And oh my goodness it is one of the best combinations ever.
I think you could do a lot of delicious curries in this same sauce, but Isa combined chickpeas and greens in her recipe. She mentioned that instead of spinach she prefers the “sturdiness of chard, cabbage or spring greens”, so I tried my version with collard greens, and Pem used kale.
The curry powder you use is going to strongly influence the colour & flavour of your final curry, so choose one you like. Pem used a yellow onion and Arvinda’s Madras Masala, along with homemade canned tomatoes, and hers turned out rather yellow:
While mine went a darker red from my blend of spices, using a red onion, and a store-bought tin of tomatoes:
And as usual, neither of us are great at following a recipe… my version is pretty close to the original, but Pem added sweet potato, and I think it’s genius. I’m totally doing that next time!!!
In fact, it reminds me of one of my latest favourite recipes that my friend Nicole B. introduced me to — Braised Coconut Spinach Chickpeas with Lemon, served over a baked sweet potato. I think this curry would be awesome over a baked sweet potato, in the same way.
Pem and I have both eaten it in a few different adaptations:
- The Standard Version: over cooked rice (I used a wild rice, brown rice, quinoa blend, and Pem used basmati rice), with mango chutney, carrot pickle and yogurt
- The Pemma Version: over a bed of chopped endives, coriander, and arugula as a lunch salad (Pem said the heat from the curry wilted the arugula… mmm)
- The Lindsay Version: spread a gluten-free flatbread with scotch bonnet hot sauce, pile on the curry, top with Old Cheddar and pop under the broiler for a “Butter Chick-pea Pizza”
And I’m actually sad there’s only one bowlful left.
Theoretically, if you cook your rice ahead of time (or start it when you start the curry), I think you could do this easily on a weeknight after a long day at the office in about 30 minutes. And if you’re FaceTiming and giggling away, it may take you 2 hours… But isn’t Slow Food the best?
Chickpea & Collard Greens Coconut Curry
This is ideal comfort food for me — the creaminess of the coconut milk along with chickpeas and greens makes this curry a healthy meal that feels like a treat. If you need to feed vegans and omnivores simultaneously, this is a great way to do it. If you want to eat this over rice, don’t forget to start your rice along with your curry! Adapted from “Coconut Chana Saag” from the fabulous
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2″ nub of fresh ginger, minced
- 2 Tablespoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Several cracks of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (to taste, this is quite spicy)
- 1 (796 ml) can diced tomatoes
- 2 (540 ml/19 fl oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 bunch of collard greens, separated into leaves and stems, and chopped
- 1 (414 ml/14 fl oz) tin coconut milk, shaken well
- the juice of a lime
- 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons toasted coconut
Place the coconut oil in a large pot and let melt over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are golden brown, about 7 minutes.
Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for another 1-2 minutes, until everything is golden brown and smells delightful.
Add the spices (curry powder, salt, pepper, fennel, cardamom, coriander, cumin, and cayenne), and stir for the next minute, until the spices completely coat the onions and have toasted.
Pour in the can of tomatoes, and stir well, getting up any bits off the bottom of the pan. Pour in the drained chickpeas and stir to combine everything.
Place a lid over the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn the heat back down to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. Remove the lid, and add the chopped collard green stems. Cook, uncovered, until the collard stems are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped collard green leaves, coconut milk, and stir to combine. Pour in the lime juice, and serve warm, topped with fresh cilantro and toasted coconut. Enjoy!