OK this is what I do on busy weeknights. Especially when Sean and I are both working 70 hours a week. This is what my sister Myna does too. We want dinner, we want it fast, and we don’t want to order in. Pasta with bottled sauce is getting old, so out of the question. We want something homemade, tasty, and healthy. And it has to be fast and tummy-warming because I have to jump on a conference call with Asia and Sean has to return to that hunched position over his laptop to meet his deadline. As soon as you get home and change out of your work clothes you can make this dinner, while a rerun of Law & Order hums in the background. Make no mistake about it, this is short cut city. Nothing fancy, just simple, homemade food. And, you can substitute the oven-roasted veggies for anything you might have in your fridge that you need to use (or as I say, “need to get rid of” like wilting baby spinach and grape tomatoes that are starting to look a bit wrinkly).
By the time Detectives Stabler and Benson have made the right arrest in the case, your dinner is ready. Tuck into your own homemade rice bowl of aromatic long grain basmati rice, oven-roasted curried cauliflower, tomatoes, chick peas, baby spinach, and peas. Top with a quick homemade tomato-mint raita. You can add a few dry red chilli flakes for extra kick if you like. I snuggle next to Sean on the sofa as we eat it. Sigh. Before returning to work.
Step #1. Put on the basmati rice
What you’ll need for the rice
- 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
- 2.5 cups water (2 cups if you’re making it on the stovetop)
- Measure out 1 cup of brown or white basmati rice into a rice cooker and add 2.5 cups of water. Turn it on and let it do the work for you.
Step #2. Get your oven going to make roasted curried cauliflower, tomatoes, chick peas, spinach, and peas
What you’ll need for the oven-roasted curry
- 1/2 head cauliflower
- 1 pint grape tomatoes (you will need 1/2 for the baking pan AND the other 1/2 for the raita)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne OR dry red chilli flakes
- 15 oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
- 3 large handfuls baby spinach (equals about 3 cups loose)
- 1 cup frozen sweet green peas
- 3 tablespoons cream (for finishing)
- Crack open a package of pre-cut raw cauliflower florets (equal to 1/2 a head of cauliflower) and toss it into a large non-stick baking pan or tray.
- Crack open a pint of grape tomatoes, take half of them, rinse and slice each lengthwise in half. Toss them into the baking pan, along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons curry powder, 1.5 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder OR dry red chilli flakes. Mix well. Pop it in the oven @ 425F. No need to preheat. Set the timer for 15 minutes.
- Check on it a couple of times, mixing it around with a wooden spoon, until it is lovely and golden, with caramelized brown bits. Should take 15-20 min max.
- After 15 minutes add the drained chick peas and baby spinach, mix well to combine. Push the pan back in for another 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, pour in a cup of frozen green peas and combine well. Push the pan back in the oven for 5 min. Remove from oven and gently mix in cream.
Step #3. Mix together the tomato raita
What you’ll need for the raita
- 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
- Fresh mint leaves or cilantro leaves (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 cups plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin powder
- While the rice and cauliflower are cooking away, turn your attention to the remaining grape tomatoes and grab some fresh mint leaves or fresh cilantro.
- Slice each grape tomato lengthwise into quarters. Toss them into a bowl and add thinly sliced mint or finely chopped cilantro leaves.
- Stir in 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup water (we do this to smoothen it out since Greek yogurt is really thick).
- Add salt and cumin powder. Mix well. Adjust for taste. Mix well once more and set aside.