Photo by Matthew Chung
Being a busy student, I know how difficult it is to cook healthy when you’re pressed for time. So, I like to prepare basic sauces in large batches and freeze them in individual portion sizes. Then, during the weekdays, after I come home from a long day of school, I can simply pick and choose a sauce from the freezer, reheat it, and stir it into whatever grain I choose to have that day (e.g. spaghetti, rice, rice noodles, etc.). Making sauces ahead of time allows me to prepare simple and well-balanced meals during the busy weekdays and ensure that I stay on track eating fresh foods and stay away from junk food and processed foods!
I find that sauces freezes and reheats well. And by jazzing it up with some herbs and tossing in a handful of mixed veggies, I get a very satisfying and healthy meal ready in minutes!
This week I made a simple vegetable curry sauce. Although I call it Japanese style, it really is just a mix of all curry variations – I’ve added in some garam masala (Indian), a splash of coconut milk (Chinese? Asian?) and a-half-block of Japanese curry base. In the end, I decided to call my curry sauce Japanese style because it has a hint of sweetness which is a characteristic of Japanese curry!
Beware! This curry sauce contains a lot of veggies – so it’s perfect for those who can’t seem to eat enough vegetables! From the vegetables and the legumes hidden in this recipe, it’s a fiber galore, so make sure you drink lots to help with the digestion!
Japanese-Style Vegetable Curry Sauce
Makes 4 servings.
- 1/2 cup mung beans, rinsed and soaked in water for 20 min
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium sweet pepper, any variety, diced
- 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 – 4 pieces of ginger, minced
- 2 chili peppers, deseeded
- 1/2 cup corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
- Olive oil
- 1/2 block of Japanese curry base (found in Asian markets)
- Pinch of turmeric, cumin, garam masala
- 1 piece dried bay leave
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Salt and pepper
- Coconut milk
- After soaking lentils for 20 minutes, pour lentils and water into small pot and let boil. When it boils, turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.
- In another non-stick skillet, add olive oil and sauté onions and sweet peppers until slightly softened. Add in ginger, garlic and chili peppers, continue to sauté until fragrant. Pour mixture into pot with lentils. Add in bay leave now.
- Reheat lentils until it boils, then let simmer until lentils become “mushy” and sauce thickens. Continue to simmer until desired consistency.
- Add in corn.
- Add in your seasonings (spices, Japanese curry base, honey) except coconut milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot!
Have it now or save it for later! You can choose to have the sauce immediately or let it cool and separate it into 4 individual serving sizes for later on. The flavour will improve if you let it sit overnight.
When to add in coconut milk? As the sauce cools, it will continue to thicken slightly. Thus, before adding it onto your rice / pasta, you can thin it out by adding in 1 – 2 tablespoons of coconut milk.
Believe it or not…According to Dietitians of Canada’s recipe analyzer, each sauce serving actually has 1.5 servings of fruits and vegetables and 0.5 serving of meats and alternatives. The onions and peppers not only add flavour to the recipe, they also greatly boost the vegetable content. The mung bean is a good source of protein and fiber, which makes it a good alternative to meat products, with the added benefit of no cholesterol!
By using a mix of spices and Japanese curry base, this sauce has really strong and complex flavour even though it does not contain any meat products.
Try this recipe! This is the no-fuss solution to squeezing in some more vegetables into your diet – you practically won’t realize that you’re eating so much vegetables (and you probably won’t even know it until you make this yourself). So what are you waiting for? Make it!