Something Different
Week of: February 21, 2011
Download 300 dpi photo
Contact: Alice Bender, (202) 328-7744

Vegetable Curry Makes a Warming Meal

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

One of my favorite cookbooks features 660 curries. All of them are Indian, from comforting, mildly spiced potato-filled samosas to vinegar-sharp, sizzling hot pork vindaloo. Their variety helps to explain how Indians eat curry every day and perhaps gain protection from Alzheimer’s and heart disease, thanks to the potential health benefits of the spices used to make them.

How can so many dishes be considered curry? More important, if you do not like spicy heat, how can you enjoy these tasty dishes, too?

Curry, to Indian cooks, simply refers to dishes made with spices, and that are moist and stew-like or served with a sauce, such as the combination of long-cooked yellow split peas, tamarind, ginger and chiles served with samosas.

Not all spices used in curries bring heat. Bangala garam masala, for example, combines ground cinnamon, cloves and coriander. A pinch of it adds sweetly fragrant flavor to sautéed spinach or to the pan juices from pork chops.

The blends of spices in curry powders we buy vary by brand, but they usually include some combination of turmeric, coriander, cumin, ginger, fenugreek and black pepper. Cayenne pepper, caraway seed and cloves are other frequent ingredients. This gives each brand its own flavor. It also lets you choose the degree of heat, ranging from mild to hot.

Curry powder gives vegetables a big flavor boost. The turmeric in this chunky vegetable curry suggests how flavorful the dish is. Chickpeas add protein, making it a meal, especially when served with brown rice.

Cauliflower Curry

Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry with Potatoes

  • 4 cups bite-size cauliflower florets
  • 1 medium yellow-flesh potato, peeled and diced (roughly 1 cup)
  • 1 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 cup red onion, cut in thin crescents
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. curry powder, hot or mild (add more or less to taste)
  • 3 cups green cabbage, in 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen cut green beans
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat coconut milk, preferably organic
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, halved, optional, for garnish

In medium pot of boiling water, cook cauliflower and potatoes for 3 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

In large Dutch oven, heat 1/2 cup broth until it bubbles around edges. Add onion and garlic, and cook until onion is translucent, 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in curry powder until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until it wilts, 4 to 5 minutes, adding 1/4 cup water if the pot gets dry before cabbage is limp.

Add chickpeas, green beans, cauliflower and potatoes. Pour in remaining 1/2 cup broth and coconut milk. When liquid starts to bubble around edges of the pot, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and cauliflower is tender-crisp, 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, divide curry, including liquid from pot, among 6 soup bowls.

If using eggs, discard egg yolks or reserve for another use, and coarsely chop the whites. Sprinkle the whites as garnish over the curry.

Makes 6 servings

Per serving: 182 calories,4 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 33 g carbohydrate,
8 g protein, 8 g dietary fiber, 257 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at

All active news articles

> ]]