Earlier this month, I made a huge life altering decision to move out of my parents’ house and into my own place in San Francisco. It’s been quite an adjustment in just about every way you can imagine: getting used to a new bedroom, new apartment, getting myself to work, figuring out how to get around without a car, and the list goes on and on. The biggest adjustment I’ve faced revolves around being able to cook and feed myself- this includes packing lunches, cooking dinner after long days at work, and making sure I don’t skip breakfast (I’ve heard that habit is bad). For the past two years, I never had to worry about what I would eat for dinner, on the weekend, or even for lunch sometimes; the fridge guaranteed leftovers from something my mom had made and I would almost always come home to a warm dinner. Yes, I have been very spoiled these past two years.
So now, I have to fend for myself- plan my own meals, buy groceries, not waste food, and also…do ALL the dishes (Yup, I never did dishes at home). Though this adjustment has been difficult, I think I’ve managed quite well! The key to throwing together dinners on a weeknight is to keep things really simple; I avoid using any “exotic” ingredients (which means these ingredients are those that I have on hand, in bulk. Nothing like mascarpone cheese or anything fancy) and I make sure that whatever I cook can be taken to work the next day for lunch. So far, I’ve done a lot of Indian food (because I miss my Mom’s food) and a little bit of Chinese because I’ve been inspired by my apartment’s vicinity to Chinatown (hello best tofu in the world) and Loving Hut.
I want to share a really easy recipe for the first dinner I made in my new apartment. The mixture of spices is pretty standard for many Indian curries and you can use it as a base for many other curries!
My first dinner in my apartment was a simple broccoli, mushroom, and tofu curry with quinoa and cucumber raita. Does it sound fancy? It was not! Note the spices used below and change up the vegetables next time for a completely different dinner.
For my easy broccoli, mushroom, and tofu curry, you need:
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided.
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 cups chopped broccoli (bite sized pieces)
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms (quartered is good)
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1 cup cubed tofu
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 chopped scallions
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan. When hot, throw in the cubed tofu to brown on all sides on high heat. When done, drain the tofu on a plate lined with paper towel.
Then, in a deeper saucepan, add the rest of the oil. When hot, add the cumin and cook for a couple of minutes on high heat. Then add the chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder, and garam masala. Mix the oil and spices together and let them mingle for about 30 seconds on medium-high heat. When combined, add the tomatoes and salt. Cook all of this for 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are really soft and basically mush.
Now add the chopped broccoli and mushroom into the tomatoes and spices. Mix everything so the spices and tomatoes cover the vegetables. Cover the saucepan and cook for about 20 minutes on medium heat, until the vegetables are tender. Uncover and add back the tofu. The curry will be a little more watery at this point, and that’s perfectly normal. Check if the it needs more salt, and adjust according to taste. Garnish with the chopped scallions.
For the cucumber raita you need:
- 2 cups of Greek yogurt
- ½ cup of milk and some water
- 1 cup diced cucumber
- 1 tablespoon roasted cumin, crushed with your hands
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of chaat masala (optional)
- Salt to taste
Whisk together the yogurt, water, and milk. You don’t want the raita to be too thin; I would say a little thinner than a smoothie is a good consistency. Then add the spices, sugar and cucumber and give it all one last stir. Serve the raita and curry with quinoa, and you’ve got yourself an amazingly delicious, healthy, and EASY dinner.
I’m so excited to be on my own in the city and can’t wait to share more recipes that come out of my kitchen in San Francisco!