Vegan Life Changing Masala with Beef & Chickpeas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

So – flipping around the internet, I came across a recipe from a blog I love.  The blog is Pinch of Yum.  I love the blog because the photographs are mercilessly lush & gorgeous.  About a year ago, she posted her “life-changing 30 minute masala sauceand the photos are so great – I just could not get the recipe out of my mind – so – I made it!  She offers the recipe for a masala paste & then how to make a sauce from the paste.  She served the sauce over her “30-minute vegetarian meatballs.”  I did not have the ingredients for the meatballs so I decided to serve my sauce over Gardein beefless tips & chickpeas.

The paste is SUPER easy.  You just whip it up in a food processor.  The sauce is super easy, too, and she is right!  It is delicious!  You could serve the sauce over any meat or meatless meat or veggie or even rice or pasta you desire.  The paste makes a lot so maybe freeze some.

I did not have onions so I used shallots & scallions.  I used two tomatoes & some tomato paste in place of her suggested 1½ cups tomato puree + ½ cup water or broth – just because that was all I had.  Worked out great!  I recommend you make this sauce & follow her blog.  It is really wonderful!

Vegan Life Changing Masala with Beef & Chickpeas

Serves 4 with rice


9 oz vegan beef (or other vegan meat)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas – drained
for the masala paste
2 onions
5 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, crushed
3 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon cumin
1½ teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
a small pile of of cilantro stems
a fistful of almonds
juice of one lemon
for the masala sauc
1½ cups tomato puree + ½ cup water or broth
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
½ teaspoon salt (taste and adjust)
GARNISH – cooked rice & cilantro
Pulse all the ingredients for the Masala Paste in a food processor until smooth.  Put it into a container for storage in the fridge or freezer – reserving only 1/4 cup of the paste for this recipe.  The rest is extra!
Heat a drizzle of oil in a skillet. Add 1/4 cup masala paste to the skillet and with a little bit of oil and stir around in the pan until fragrant (3-5 minutes).  Add the tomato puree and water and simmer until t’s a rusty-deep-red color – about 5-10 minutes.  Add the beef & chickpeas.  Add the coconut milk; simmer for 10 minutes or so until thick and creamy.  Longer simmer = thicker and better flavor.
Serve over warm rice & garnish with chopped cilantro.

5-Minute Vegan Sticky & Spicy Indian Masala Chicken Fingers

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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These take 5 minutes & are completely irresistible!  I ate the entire 9 oz of chicken in one sitting.  I recommend using Beyond Meat chicken because it really is the best on the market.  Click the link to get a coupon & use their store locator.  In the pictures – I cooked these in a regular non-stick pan but I did, ultimately, transfer them to a grill pan – just for the aesthetic of the grill marks.  If you have a grill pan – use it – otherwise any pan will do.

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5-Minute Vegan Sticky & Spicy Indian Masala Chicken Fingers

Serves 1-2 as an appetizer (though this would go great with rice, too)


9 oz vegan chicken

2 TBS garam masala

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup chili sauce (the sweet Thai kind)

2 tsp soy sauce

2 TBS sriracha

1 TBS ketchup

juice of 1/2 lime

Agave nectar

Olive oil or cooking spray

GARNISH – sliced scallions, sesame seeds

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Whisk all the ingredients except the chicken, agave & garnish.  Set the sauce aside.

If you have a grill pan (or other pan) – treat it with cooking spray or olive oil.  Put the chicken in the pan on high heat.  Add the sauce & cook, turning the strips frequently, until the sauce thickens & begins to blacken in spots – likely only a few minutes.  Just before they are done – drizzle with a little agave nectar for moisture.

Serve with choice of garnish.

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Potato and Cauliflower Tikka Masala – Vegetarian or Vegan or Not – for the Slow Cooker!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.



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I have really been on a slow cooker kick lately.  I just fucking love the idea of dumping shit in there & walking away & coming home to a house that smells delicious & feels like someone has been thinking of and cooking for you.  Even those of us that live alone.

I used real cream in mine but you can sub that out with a vegan alternative, coconut cream likely being the simplest option.  I used cauliflower & potatoes but any veggies will do – or chick peas or a vegan meat – like the awesome Beyond Meat’s vegan chicken.  Or add seafood or real chicken.  Whatever floats your boat.

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There are a lot of ingredients but none are very exotic – and all you gotta do is dump them into the crock pot & leave.  So come on now!   Why not try it?

I like a lot of gravy in my Indian dishes & there is a boatload here.  I initially tried to use coconut milk creamer in place of heavy cream but it just wasn’t dense enough – so – I resorted to real heavy cream.  Again – coconut cream (thicker even that full fat coconut milk) – would be a great vegan substitution.

Potato and Cauliflower Tikka Masala – Vegetarian or Vegan or Not

This fills a 6 quart slow cooker so it makes a lot.


1 head cauliflower – cut into small florets

4 red potatoes – cut into bite-sized pieces

(other veggies work, too like: peas, broccoli, zucchini, green beans or even white or red beans)

1 onion – diced

2 jalapenos – seeded & minced (optional)

6 garlic cloves – chopped

1-3 TBS fresh ginger (I used 3 but my ginger was jarred & maybe not as pungent as fresh)

26 oz (or so) tomato puree

1/2 cup yogurt (or vegan yogurt)

3 TBS garam masala (you can make it yourself if you cannot find it at your grocery store)

1 TBS turmeric

1 TBS ground cumin

1 TBS paprika

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 TBS cayenne pepper

1 (14 oz) can coconut milk (I used lite but full fat is even better)

1 cup water


1 cup heavy cream or vegan alternative (including coconut cream or more full fat coconut milk) – plus a bit more just in case your tikka masala needs tweaking

2 TSP cornstarch (more or less)

Cilantro as garnish

Cooked rice (I used brown Basmati)





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Put everything from the cauliflower through to the water into a large slow cooker.  Stir it all up & set on high for 5 hours.  Longer than this is perfectly fine – but just know your cauliflower might begin to disintegrate a bit.  If you go away longer – like a lot longer – maybe set it on low so it doesn’t scorch.  Not all slow cookers are created equal & the heat each of our machines generate can vary widely.

After 5 hours or once your vegetables are tender, take about 1/4 cup of your heavy cream (or vegan alternative) and whisk the cornstarch in.  Once there are no lumps – put this in the slow cooker with the other 3/4 cup of cream.  Stir it up.  Let this heat through & thicken a bit.  Taste for seasoning.  If it is too thick, add more coconut cream or cream or water.   If it is too thin, add more of the cornstarch mixture.

Serve with cilantro over rice.

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Potato Masala with Forbidden Black Rice (part 3 of a 3 curry meal)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


This is the third & final installment in my curry trilogy.  Please read the first one – my


Thai Green Curry Coconut Shrimp

as it boasts both a great recipe and also a funny story about being here:


The second curry is my


Indian Yellow Curry Cauliflower with Coconut Milk

These three curries are all very simple & make a very pretty presentation when plated together.

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Potato Masala


2 large potatoes (or 3 cups) – peeled & cut into chunks

1 large onion

2 medium tomatoes

1 cup peas

1 TBS red curry (or other curry powder)

2 tsp chili powder

4 garlic cloves

1 TBS prepared ginger paste (or chopped fresh ginger)

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

2 TBS garam masala (or make your own – recipe HERE)

6 dry curry leaves (or fresh) – optional (they can be hard to find)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro – plus more for garnish

olive oil

S&P to taste



Put the chopped potatoes in a pot with enough water just to cover them.  Boil until they are almost tender. Remove from heat and set aside – retaining the potato water.

In a food processor, mince the onions with the garlic cloves & ginger paste.  Set aside.  Then mince the tomatoes & set aside.


Heat 1 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the onions with the garlic & ginger and the curry leaves (if using) and fry over medium heat until the onions become a light golden color.  Add tomatoes, chili powder, red curry powder, & blend.  Add cumin & coriander, garam masala & saute until all the flavors have a chance to meld.


Add the boiled potatoes & as much potato water as is needed to get the gravy to a consistency you like.  Add the peas.  Add tap water if you think you need it.  Add salt to taste.  Heat through.  Remove the dry curry leaves (if you can see them) as you would do with bay leaves.

Serve with rice & cilantro as garnish.

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Forbidden Black Rice

Just use two parts water to one part rice.  For example, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.  Add 2 cups rice & return to a boil.  Reduce heat, wrap a kitchen towel around the pot lid & cover the pan.  Be CAREFUL that your kitchen towel is nowhere near the flame.  You don’t HAVE to take this step but it is supposed to produce a fluffier rice.  Let the rice sit unmolested on lowest heat for about 45 minutes.  Check the texture.  If it isn’t soft enough yet, let it sit another 15 minutes.

Or just use a rice cooker.



North Indian Chana Masala or Sour & Spicy Chick Pea Stew with Basmati Rice

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

While this blog is not devoted to economic meals nor low calorie (or specifically healthy) ones – the fact is, most of us appreciate a low cost & delicious dinner that satisfies without moving us that much closer to an unsightly bedonkadonk.  A few months ago, a Facebook follower responded to one of my incessant food posts with the remark, “I wish I could afford to eat like you do every day.”  Little did she know – I was in the middle of a self-imposed challenge to go as long as possible without buying any food and force myself to live on all the collected crap in my freezer & pantry.  This wasn’t the first challenge of this sort I had exercised.  The first time I tried it – I went a month and spent only $5.  Of course, by the end of the first week – all fresh produce was gone from my diet and within a week from that – so was all frozen & canned varieties.  I mostly lived on rices & pastas.  It was an all-carb-all-the-time diet that began to alarm my friends.  The day the Facebooker made her remark – concerned friends had anonymously delivered about $500 worth of fresh EVERYTHING to my door.   In fact – both times I did the “pantry cleanse” diet – concerned & WAY TOO generous friends delivered a farmer’s market’s wealth of produce to my door – so I can’t do this diet anymore.  Or – at least – if I do, I need to keep it on the QT.  I felt like I was fleecing my friends for lettuce & broccoli.  So – anyway – my point is, pizza, pasta & rice dishes happen to be what I like – but they are also very cost effective.  Pasta & pizza needn’t be the pound-packers they are reputed to be, either.  If the crust is very thin & you are reasonable with the cheese (and skip meat altogether) – they are really just open faced sandwiches – but SO much more emotionally satisfying.  And – homemade pasta is WAY lighter than the dried variety.  No post-Thanksgiving dinner style bloated gut EVER from homemade pasta.  So – it is just a matter of getting creative & artful with how you present these dishes.  Mix it up.  Got a funny mish mash of ingredients – and no idea what to do with them?  Google them followed by the word recipe.  I then like to click IMAGES & find the prettiest result from the ingredients I listed.  You would be amazed how effective this can be as a source for an exciting new dish without a run to the grocery store.

OK – I’m rambling.  Today’s post is the result of my having one large can of chick peas & a bunch of onions, some leftover tomatoes & leftover jalapenos.

When it comes to Indian food, I prefer the heavily gravied dishes over the drier ones.  This dish is almost all gravy (ymmm) and it is a gravy made up almost entirely of pureed onions.  Sounds funky.  It is not!  It is delicious!  Delicious – of course – if you like the juxtaposition of spicy & sour.  But this dish makes a large quantity (easily enough for 4 – with rice) and the only calories in it really are from the chick peas (which are VERY good for you & CHEAP) and the tiny bit of olive oil.  Cheap, LOW fat, low calorie & yummy as fuck.  And easy to make.  Why not give it a go?

The one drawback with Indian is the initial investment in spices.  All of my versions of Indian dishes will call for 2-3 times as much of each spice as most other versions you will see.  I like the dishes heavily seasoned.  My suggestion for the spices is that you find a local exotic spice store – and not a fancy Williams-Sonoma type one but a local family-owned one – and go in there with a list.  The fact is – these stores tend to sell every day spices at deep discounts, too.  My supermarket charges like $8 for that traditional size container of an average spice – like say – cumin.  My Indian spice store sells a giant container – ten times as much – for like $5. is also a good source – believe it or not.  So – if you are in an area that lacks ethnic opportunities – don’t forget the interweb!  Everything you want can be found there.

The basic spices that most Indian dishes will call for are:

Garam Masala – which you can make (garam masala recipe) or buy prepared

Cumin – both seeds & ground

Coriander – both seeds & ground


Green Cardamom pods


Fennel seeds

Bay leaves

Tamarind paste

Mango Powder (Amchoor)

Asafoetida (read this Wiki thing Asafoetida) – which STINKS (good Lord!) in the container but cooks up nicely.  Trust.  Despite its alternative name “devil’s dung.”

Mustard seeds of all colors


Curry powder

and – as an aside –  fresh ginger, garlic & onions are used in nearly everything — unless you are unfortunate enough to have stumbled upon a Hare Krishna Indian recipe.  They think garlic leads to lewdness.  But I’ve covered this in the past.  Just know – if you are making an Indian dish & do not see onions or garlic in the ingredients – you might want to look for a version of the recipe that has them.

SPECIAL NOTE – I have yet to succeed in creating a mint or cilantro chutney OR a decent yogurt raita myself.  My spice store is attached to a restaurant that sells these items in any quantity you wish.   It is easier & cheaper to do it this way for me – so that is what is pictured here.  I will persevere, though, and try to work out a homemade version – eventually.




This dish is very easy to prepare.  Don’t be thrown by the amount of onion.  A food processor is kinda critical with this one, though, in order to get the onions pureed gravy-style.


North Indian Chana Masala or Sour & Spicy Chick Pea Stew


1 29 oz can chick peas (garbanzo beans)

1 cup diced tomatoes

2 large red onions – chopped roughly (some reserved & chopped for garnish)

fresh cilantro (fresh coriander) – chopped for garnish

2 inch piece of fresh ginger – peeled & chopped

8 garlic cloves

3 jalapenos (some reserved & sliced thin for garnish)

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS turmeric

1/4 tsp cinnamon

10 green cardamom pods – gently crushed under the flat side of a knife (to release their flavor)

3 bay leaves

6 TBS yogurt (or prepared raita – if you have it)

3 TBS garam masala

pinch of asefoetida (not critical – so don’t sweat it if you don’t have it)

2 TBS ground cumin

2 TBS ground coriander

1 tsp sugar (raw – preferably)

1 TBS tamarind paste

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns

salt to taste

1 1/2 cup water


Puree: the red onion, ginger, garlic, jalapenos & 1/2 cup water – into a paste in the food processor.

Heat: the oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium heat.  Saute the cinnamon, bay leaves & cardamom pods for a minute then add the onion puree & tomatoes.  Saute until the liquid begins to evaporate & the onions start changing color  to – a nice pale brown.


Stir in the tamarind paste.  One blended add: salt, sugar, garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric & lemon juice.  Stir this until blended then add the yogurt & stir in in until blended.  The puree should now how a rich chocolate color.

Add the chick peas & the liquid from the can along with another cup of water.  Simmer this on low for an hour or more.  Be sure it doesn’t dry out.  Add water if the rich gravy starts looking sparse.  It should be a pretty wet stew – the gravy being the primary element here – rather than the chick peas.

Serve on individual plates over basmati rice & garnish with cilantro, red onion & sliced jalapeno.

Serve with mint chutney & a yogurt raita on the side – if you can.  No worries if you cannot.



3 cups basmati rice – rinsed several times in a colander

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt

20 green cardamom pods (if you can get them)


Heat the olive oil in a pan.  Once hot – add the cumin seeds & the cardamom pods – again being wary of their popping & spitting.  I used 20 cardamom pods because mine were a bit old.  You might want to use fewer if yours are fresh & really pungent.  After a minute – add the rice & stir until it is all covered in oil & the spices are well blended.  Add 3 3/4 cups of water (or whatever ratio of rice to water your package suggests) & bring to a boil.  Use less water for firmer rice.  Once boiling – reduce heat to low & simmer, covered, for however long the rice package instructs you.  Remove from heat.  Fluff with a fork.