Vegetarian Curry with Microwave Spiced Rice

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vegetarian curry microwave rice
vegetarian curry with microwave rice

Middle of the week, and you’re spinning like a top getting everything done. What to cook, what to eat, to avoid the dreaded take-out rut?

Some of the things I love about living in Cape Town are a) having an abundance of beautiful fresh vegetables and fruit available throughout the year b) spice shops. A legacy of the various 17th and 18th century settlers and slave community in the Cape can be tasted today in the seductive spicing beloved by our local cooks, and this recipe is a tribute to them. Aside from being dead easy and super fast to make, of course. It’s also from my latest cookbook, Luscious Vegetarian, published by Random House Struik in November 2012. Stylist Brita du Plessis and photographer Sean Calitz did such a splendid job creating the book with designer Helen Henn, that it promptly won the prestigious Gourmand Best Local Vegetarian Cookbook Award for South Africa. Yes, that means you should buy it!

I tend to prefer grinding and mixing my own spice blends – or masalas – with spices bought from merchants with a high turnover, to ensure freshness. I find this delivers a far superior result to commercial blends, unless you can lay your mitts on some Natural Herbs and Spices’ spices  – a newish, locally produced product range that pretty much knocks all contestants out of the park in terms of quality.

All the ingredients in this recipe can be found in your nearest supermarket, and the food is cooked and ready to serve in 30 minutes. Now if that’s not a perfect solution to mid-week mealtime panic, I don’t know what is. Healthy, too.

Serve with rice or a grain of your choice – I love millet, and since it’s the original African grain and packed with protein, a dedicated locavore’s first choice too.

Cook the rice while you make the curry –all ready in about 30 minutes.  For an even faster curry, use 2T (30ml) bottled rogan josh or korma curry paste instead of the spices, ginger and garlic.

Serves 4


2T (15ml) oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1t (5ml) crushed garlic

1t (5ml) grated fresh ginger

½t (2.5ml) ground cumin

1t (5ml) ground coriander

1t (5ml) mild curry powder

410g can chopped tomatoes

1T (15ml) tomato concentrate

410g can chickpeas or brown lentils, rinsed and drained

1 small cauliflower, broken into large florets

Chopped fresh coriander


  1. Rinse the rice in a sieve under running water, combine in a large pyrex bowl with spices and cook while making the curry sauce.
  2. Make the curry sauce by frying the onion in the oil until translucent and soft, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, spices and curry powder (or bottled curry paste) and cook for another minute before adding the tomatoes, concentrate and chickpeas or lentils.
  4. Add the cauliflower florets and simmer for 10-15 minutes until thick and aromatic. Serve over microwaved rice with lemon atchar and coriander.

Microwave spiced rice:

Serves 4


1 cups (250ml) basmati rice

2 star anise

2 cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

3 cloves

4 cm stick cinnamon

2 cups (500ml) water

1 t (5ml) salt


  1. Put all the ingredients together into a large microwaveable glass bowl and cover with cling film. Microwave on high for 15-20 minutes, stir well and cover again.
  2. Cook for another 5 minutes and let stand under cover for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Credits: Styling by Brita du Plessis/Photography by Sean Calitz. Publish by Random House Struik November 2012 ©

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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.