Cooking healthy food when you’re tired is no easy task. Work and/or looking after the children all day can leave you in no mood to spend yet more time in the kitchen. It can be so tempting to open a packet of frozen vegan burgers and to hell with the nutritional value. There are certainly plenty of choices when it comes to ready-made items that you just have to throw in the oven and wait for 20 minutes. No work, no fuss, but hardly any vitamins either. Also, fibre tends to be overlooked when we eat like this (and we all eat like this from time to time). Processed foods usually contain simple carbohydrates, which have very little nutritional value, not to mention the high salt and sugar contents.
That all sounds well and good, Richard, but sometimes I just can’t be bothered chopping stuff!
And you’re not alone. On occasion we all want to eat well without slicing and dicing, and we want to do it quickly so that we can get on with the twenty other things that are going on at the same time. The good news in that you can make a delicious, healthy and, most importantly, quick, meal for the family using frozen or ready-prepped veg, a couple of things in cans and jars and a microwave. If you’re organised, this dish takes 15 minutes to make and you won’t have to break a sweat. Also, if you use the same ingredients (all of which are found at the supermarket), the only thing you’ll need to use a knife for is to cut a lime in half.
To do it in time I’d recommend gathering all your ingredients together first (there aren’t many), including putting the correct amount of spices into a small dish, ready to pour into the pan at the right time. You’re going to use your microwave as the timer here. The microwave is what you’re going to cook the rice in, so when you press the start button on that, you’re going to cook the rest to finish at the same time.
Ready? Here we go…
Prep time: 2-3 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes.
- 1 can green lentils
- 275g (1 ½ cups) white basmati rice
- 600ml (3 cups) cold water
- 50g creamed coconut (1 sachet, or cut 50g from a block)
- 1 tbsp flavourless oil, such as groundnut
- 1 cup frozen diced onions
- 170g (1 small pack) ready-trimmed green beans (fresh veg section)
- 2 tsp minced garlic from a jar (world food section)
- 1 tsp minced ginger from a jar (as above)
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 ½ tbsp hot madras curry powder
- 1 veg stock cube, broken up so that it dissolves more quickly (make sure it’s vegan)
- ½ tsp harissa paste
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 can coconut milk.
Before you start, drain and wash the canned lentils in a sieve and set aside until you need them.
Put the rice, water and sachet of creamed coconut into a microwavable bowl that’s large enough to allow the rice to expand. Put a wok, or saucepan on the stove and turn on the heat, then put your rice in the microwave with no lid and set it on 80% power and the cooking time for 15 minutes. Hit that start button.
Put the tablespoon of oil into your hot pan and fry the onions and the green beans together for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another 30 seconds, stirring continuously. Pour in the spices, stock cube, harissa paste, and lime juice and give it another 30 seconds. You should have about 10 minutes left on your microwave time by this point. Add the green lentils and pour in the coconut milk. Bring to the boil on a high heat and then turn down to a simmer for the remaining time.
When the microwave has finished the rice should be perfectly cooked. Fork it through to break up the grains and mix in the coconut, then put a plate or lid over it and leave it to stand for a couple of minutes. Your lentil curry will have thickened to a delicious thick sauce by this point. Serve into four bowls and squeeze some extra lime over if you like.