Shortcut Curry

While it’s nice to spend the day chopping, sautéing and simmering – sometimes you just want dinner on the table quickly and easily. But you don’t want it to taste like tin can beans and tomato sauce…

Shortcut curry it is. While there are dozens of variations on the theme, this one works by jazzing up your basic tomato sauce, beans and curry powder with a few extra spices and some root vegetables. Best of all, it all comes together in about twenty minutes.

It isn’t as ‘’whole foods’’ as I usually like to eat, but it is a time-saver for those that don’t have a pressure cooker on call and want to avoid the ‘’insta-meal’’ section of the grocery.

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 dried red chili pepper, whole
  • A 3’’ stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • A 1’’ chunk of ginger, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon madras curry powder (or other curry powder of your liking)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 small parsnips, roll-cut into chunks (you can use carrots if you don’t like parsnip)
  • 1 small rutabaga, diced small (so it cooks at the same rate as the parsnip)
  • 1 can chick peas (540mL), drained and rinsed
  • 1 can tomato sauce (213mL)
  • 1 cup of water

What you do:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium flame and add the oil. When hot add the bay, chili pepper, cinnamon and mustard seed. Fry a few seconds until the mustard seeds pop (you might want to cover the pan a few seconds to let that popping action happen, just don’t let it go too long: you don’t want to burn the spices).
  2. Turn the heat down a tad and add the ginger and garlic. Toss it around once or twice and then add the curry powder and ground cumin and coriander. Cook a minute or so.
  3. Add the tomato sauce, water, rutabaga and parsnip.  Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked to your liking, 8-15 minutes. If you find the sauce too thick, you can add a bit more water.
  4. Add the chick peas and heat through, covered, a couple of minutes more.
  5. Most tomato sauces are salty enough that you don’t need to add any – but check the seasonings and adjust to taste. Remove the whole spices.
  6. Serve as desired, all alone or over rice.


  1. Instead of using canned chick peas, soak 3/4 cup of dry chana overnight and pre-cook them with kombu, hing and bay. Drain and reserve for use in the recipe.
  2. Instead of using tomato sauce, use tomato paste and thin it out with extra water.
  3. Instead of using tomato sauce and water, use two cups of stewed tomatoes either home-made (yum!) or store-bought (significantly less yum, but it’ll do in a pinch).

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