When there are few fresh groceries in the house and I’m pressed for time, I desire low invest high return meals. The food I want to eat on these nights is simple, to the point and wholesome. I opt for one-pot wonders, salads, bowls, frittatas, soups and stews using this and that from the pantry and vegetable drawer.
It’s also on these nights that I find dinner ideas come to me more easily. Creativity tends to blossom in the kitchen when limits and constraints are put in place.
Staples I make it a point to keep on-hand include cans of beans and dried lentils, canned whole tomatoes, brown rice, onions, garlic and a well-stocked spice drawer. Other pantry essentials (though they live in the refrigerator) that I treasure include fresh herbs and yogurt. Gleaning inspiration from any cuisine of the world, I can make an abundance of snacks and meals using those ingredients.
Chana masala is the ultimate healthy pantry supper recipe for me, using the basics I most often have available. A boon is its perfuming of the house with a heady, homey aroma. I cut corners but keep the taste by using a fresh, better-quality curry powder and garam masala. If your spices aren’t particularly youthful, apply some heat to mute any staleness you encounter.
For those who are crunched for time, use a quicker-cooking whole grain like quinoa. However, if you can steal a moment on the weekend, batch-cook some brown rice in a large pot to reheat in mere seconds when dinnertime comes around during the week – and it will.
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup short grain brown rice
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tsp minced fresh chili, or to taste
- 1 Tbsp curry powder
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 (19 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp full-fat yogurt (10% milk fat or mixture will separate) or canned coconut milk
- finely chopped fresh parsley, for serving
- For the Brown Rice: In a medium saucepan, bring water and rice to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover (or partially cover so it doesn't boil over) and cook for 55 minutes. Remove from heat and steam covered until ready to serve. Meanwhile, make chana masala.
- For Chana Masala: In a large high-sided skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion, carrot, garlic, chili, curry powder and garam masala. Reduce to to medium low; sauté for 10 to 12 minutes, until onions and tender. Add tomatoes, breaking into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, followed by chickpeas, vinegar and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low, cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in yogurt or coconut milk.
- To Serve: Add rice to bowls, ladle over chana masala and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.