Aubergine and chickpea curry with herbed quinoa

It’s the start of the new year, and as always, my resolution is to cook more and eat more healthily. The key to both of these is easy cooking. None of my recipes take long to make, but some of them require a bit of planning and some a lot of chopping, so this year I’m really going to try and come up with recipes where you can throw a bunch of things in your fridge together in less than 30 minutes. This is one of those recipes. I didn’t plan it – I just had a whole lot of veggies in my fridge and some quinoa in my cupboard and I felt like a quick curry. This dish really couldn’t be simpler. If you’ve never made a curry before because you thought it was hard – try this.

Aubergine and chickpea curry with herbed quinoa
Aubergine and chickpea curry with herbed quinoa

Serves 4

  • 250 g courgettes, chopped
  • 2 medium aubergines, chopped into smallish pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 1 tin of chopped, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 heaped tsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • A couple of dried curry leaves
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (if you want the curry spicy)
  • Handful fresh coriander
  • Handful of flaked almonds (optional)
  • Fresh mint and basil (optional)
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • Feta, to crumble on top (optional)

Make the quinoa according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, fry the onions (I use coconut oil for frying when making curries – it’s much better than olive oil) and when they’ve softened a bit, add the garlic. Fry for another minute or two and then add all the curry spices and leaves. Mix well and fry until fragrant. Add the aubergine and courgettes and cider vinegar and fry for another five minutes or so (you may want to add a bit more oil at this stage if it’s a bit dry). Pour in the tinned tomato and turn down the heat so it’s simmering. Stir occasionally and add the red pepper and chickpeas after about five minutes. After adding the tinned tomatoes, the curry needs to cook for around 10 – 12 minutes, or until thickened.

Once the quinoa has cooked, squeeze in half a lemon, season with black pepper and chop up some fresh basil and mint if you have it. It’s not essential to add the herbs, but I love herby quinoa and I think they make it a bit more interesting. You only really need a tablespoon or so of each herb. I also love adding almonds to the quinoa for some crunch – mix in a handful or two if you have them.

When the curry is ready, serve it on top of a helping of quinoa with fresh coriander on top. I like crumbling feta over the curry, even though it doesn’t traditionally go with curry. I don’t cook with salt, so I find feta adds a bit of a salty kick to the dish.

Quinoa and veggie mush

I didn’t know what to call this dish, because it’s not quite a stew and it’s too mushy to be a pilaf. Mush sounded most appropriate, although it’s not an overwhelmingly appetising name. Don’t let it put you off – I think this is the best way to eat quinoa. I am a huge fan of quinoa, and I ate it a lot when I lived in London. It’s really expensive here in South Africa, so I haven’t been cooking with it that much. I keep reading about it in local food magazines and websites though – it seems to be the new healthy food du jour – and I remembered how much I love this dish. This is one of Joe’s made-up recipes, and it’s super adaptable. Make it with whatever veggies you have around. It’s really nice with a bit of cheese – I like feta or mozzarella.

Quinoa and veggie mush

Serves 6

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tin chopped peeled tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 250 g chopped courgettes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 chopped aubergine
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped roughly
  • 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
  • 80 g feta
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes

In a large saucepan or wok fry the onion and garlic in a slug of olive oil until softened. Add the aubergine and a bit more oil. Aubergine really soaks up oil so if it starts getting too dry, I add some balsamic vinegar. Fry for about five minutes, and then add the courgettes. Cook these for a further three minutes, and then add the quinoa, the tin of tomatoes, puree and half a cup of water. Boil away until it starts getting thicker and then add another half cup of water. Stir until all the water is absorbed and then add another half cup of water. Continue until the quinoa is cooked – you can tell when the grains become translucent. Season with black pepper and stir in the chilli (add more than a teaspoon if you like a bit of heat). Take the pan off the heat and stir in the baby spinach. Serve with a sprinkle of feta and basil leaves.