When I signed up for Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Holiday Challenge, I knew one of the key things would be not only planning my lunches but finding creative meals that fit the plant-based lifestyle and, more importantly, my tastes. I didn't want to eat kale salads, though delicious, every day. I wanted hearty dishes that were full of flavor.
Dishes like this Indian buffet-inspired rajma.
There's nothing like hitting the Indian buffet - and hitting it hard. Saag paneer, rajma, chicken tikka masala, basmati, daal, naan. Oh, and that rice pudding and mango lassis. It's utterly delicious but a complete calorie bomb, and you leave feeling like you're going to birth the next Dali Lama. Not quite the goal of the Healthy Holiday Challenge.
These Indian-Spiced Kidney Beans bring home the flavors of your local Taj Mahal without the fat and calories. There's warmth from the cinnamon, a smokiness from the cumin and heat from the chili powder and cayenne. The beans are soft without being mushy and the sauce is perfect to soak up with a piece of whole grain naan.
Even better - it's in the slow cooker. Make it on a Sunday night, and you have lunches for the week come Monday morning. Wait. There is something - it used items I already had in my pantry, and probably cost a whopping $2 to make. Far cheaper than the buffet.
Slow Cooker Indian-Spiced Kidney Beans
1.5 cups red kidney beans, rinsed but not soaked
1 medium onion, diced
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1-inch piece ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon tumeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
3 whole cloves
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups water
1/8 cayenne pepper, or more to taste
Chopped cilantro, to taste
Place all ingredients except the cilantro in the slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for 8 to 10 hours, or until the beans begin to break down and become thick.
Remove the cloves. Stir in cilantro.
If you wish, use an immersion blender or masher to break up some of the beans to create a thicker sauce. To make it non-vegan and a bit creamier, stir in 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt.
Serve with basmati rice and naan, if you are so lucky to have it. I managed to time this perfectly with a shipment of Stonefire Naan, which included a whole grain variety.