Author Jean Morrison
Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries have some of the healthiest diets in the world. Their traditional cuisines include exotic spices and whole natural foods. Diets from these areas are extremely low in trans-fatty acids, which are increasingly recognized as important contributors to heart disease. The emphasis is on eating whole, unprocessed foods that are extremely low in harmful LDL cholesterol. Recent studies indicate that the use of natural, monounsaturated oils such as olive oil, a balanced intake of vegetables, fruit and fish, and a low intake of red meats provides a natural defence against cardiovascular disease. Chickpeas are very versatile and this easy curry recipe illustrates how such a simple unprocessed food can become a welcome part of our western diet. It uses plain old curry powder as found on our supermarket shelves but once you have tried it you can venture forth and use other eastern spices in this same recipe.
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Quantity: Serves 4
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1 large onion, cut into thin slivers
I red or green capsicum (sweet pepper), cut into strips
200 gm green beans chopped into pieces or 2 sticks celery, sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 - 2 teaspoons curry powder
1 rounded tablespoon jam
1 rounded tablespoon fruit chutney
Large handful sultanas
1 cup of stock
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 and a half cups of drained cooked chickpeas (equivalent to 1 can)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onion, capsicum and beans (or celery) in the oil for 10 minutes
Add curry powder, jam, fruit chutney, sultanas, stock, tomatoes and salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Add chickpeas and tomato paste. Cook further 5 minutes.
Serves 4 with rice, noodles or couscous etc.
If you have time the day before you can use dried chickpeas and cook them up yourself. Otherwise drained, tinned chickpeas are fine. Really you can just use whatever vegetables you like. In the curry featured in the photograph I used some zucchini which I added close to the end of the cooking time.
Chickpeas are also known as Garbanzo Beans. They have a nutty flavour. They need lengthy cooking and are used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. They are high in fibre and flavonoids, keeping the digestive system healthy and lowering cholesterol. They are rich in Vitamin E and zinc so they help fight infection and they promote healthy cell growth.
Tomatoes first grew as wild cherry sized fruits in the South American Andes but the tomato as we know it today, originates from Mexico. Tomato seeds were taken back to the Mediterranean countries where they quickly became popular. There are now more than 7,000 varieties of tomatoes. Eating tomatoes at least two times per week is now believed to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and to be beneficial in fighting other forms of cancer. The key ingredient in tomatoes is Lycopene which is a carotenoid. Cooking tomatoes, most especially in oil, releases the lycopene making it more available to the body. Tomatoes are also said to be good for the eyes. Tomatoes that are ripened on the vine have far more vitamin C than those that are picked green.
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