Plant-Based Indian Cooking Class


  • Creamy Mushroom Curry (like Butter Chicken)
  • Parippu (red lentil daal)
  • Laccha (fresh tomato & cucumber salad)
  • Split Pea & Brown Basmati Flatbread

Before we Zoom…

  • Prepare Garam Masala; if making from scratch (recipe below)
  • soak 2/3 cup (160 mL) raw cashews at room temperature for 4-6 hours
  • soak 2 cups/500 mL yellow split peas and ½ cup/125 mL basmati rice in water for 4-6 hours; they can be soaked together
  • peel 2-3 cooking onions and 8+ cloves garlic
  • wash all fresh produce
  • preheat oven to 350F (180C)
  • gather all needed equipment (list below)
  • prepare some basmati rice and keep it warm. This is optional, we won’t be making it during the class.

What you’ll need…

  • cutting board
  • chef’s knife and small paring knife
  • food processor (optional, but a time saver)
  • blender or smoothie bullet
  • various bowls for prepped ingredients
  • oven-safe baking dish (2-litre/8”-square Pyrex works)
  • large sauté or frying pan (non-stick will help)
  • 1 medium sauce pans with lid
  • 2 wooden spoons (for stirring on the stove)
  • 1 spatula (for flipping the flat breads)
  • paper towels or clean tea towel
  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • pantry ingredients/spices


Pantry Items

  • coconut oil
  • ground cumin 
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground or whole cardamom 
  • ground coriander seed
  • ground turmeric
  • black or yellow mustard seeds, optional
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • garam masala (buy premixed or make your own with the provided recipe!)
  • bay leaves
  • fennel seeds, optional
  • maple syrup, palm sugar or coconut sugar

Fresh Produce

  • 3-4 cooking onions
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 3-5” chunk fresh ginger root
  • 2-3 green chilies
  • 1 red chili
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 English (seedless) cucumber or several mini-cucumbers
  • 1 bunch cilantro 
  • 6-10 King Oyster Mushrooms, aka King Eryngii, King Trumpet Mushroom
  • OR
  • 2 packs tempeh or tofu for a mushroom-free option

Dry Grocery

  • coconut oil
  • coconut milk
  • basmati rice (brown or white)
  • slivered or sliced almonds, optional 
  • 1-400 mL can coconut milk
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes
  • red lentils
  • yellow split peas (dried)
  • Garam Masala (premixed available at many stores, or make your own with the recipe below)
  • 2/3 cup raw cashews (sunflower seeds are a nut free option)


Creamy Mushroom Curry (like Butter Chicken)

Makes 4-6 servings 

What you’ll need…

What you’ll need…

1-796 mL can diced tomatoes, divided

1 cup (240 mL) coconut milk

2/3 cup (160 mL) raw cashews, soaked in water for 4-6 hours

1” (2.5 cm) piece fresh ginger

4-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 red chili, chopped, optional

2 tsp (10 mL) maple syrup or palm sugar *see notes

1 tsp (5 mL) Garam Masala 

½ tsp (2.5 mL) cinnamon

¼ tsp (1.25 mL) ground cardamom (or 2 whole cardamom pods)

¼ tsp (1.25 mL) cayenne pepper, optional

1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt, or to taste

¼ cup (60 mL) coconut oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

3-5 King Oyster mushrooms (about 2 cups/480 mL chopped)

1 block extra organic firm tofu (sprouted if possible), pressed & torn into bite-sized chunks

½ cup (125 mL) chopped cilantro

What to do…

What to do…

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). 
  2. In a blender, purée until smooth: 1 cup (250 mL) chopped/diced tomatoes, coconut milk, soaked cashews, ginger, garlic, fresh chili, maple syrup (or other sweetener,) spices and salt. Combine mixture with remaining tomatoes; set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium-high. Add onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until starting to soften. Add mushrooms and cook 4-8 minutes longer, or until wilted and moisture begins to evaporate. 
  4. Add chunked tofu and prepared tomato mixture. Bring to simmer, stirring often, or until thickened. Stir through chopped cilantro.
  5. Transfer to oven-safe baking dish. Bake at 350F (180C) for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbling and lightly browned. Serve topped with fresh chopped cilantro.


  • Butter chicken is often finished with cream and contains lots of ghee (clarified butter) which helps to round out the acidity of the tomatoes and yoghurt the recipe usually contains. Adding a little bit of maple syrup, palm sugar or any other sweetener helps to balance the finished dish here. Add more or less to suit your taste. 

Garam Masala Spice Blend 

Makes ¼ cup (60 mL)

What you’ll need…

  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground cumin
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground cloves
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground fennel seed, optional
  • 1 dried bay leaf, ground, optional

What to do…

  1. Combine all ingredients. Store in an air tight container for several months.

Parippu (Red Lentil Daal)

Makes 4-6 servings

What you’ll need…

  • 1 can (398 mL) coconut milk
  • 2 cups (500 mL) vegetable stock or water
  • 1 cup (250 mL) red lentils
  • ¾ cup (180 mL) chopped fresh or canned diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) cumin seed
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) ground coriander 
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) turmeric
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) black mustard seeds, optional
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt, or to taste

What to do…

  1. In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 20-30 minutes, stirring often, or until lentils are cooked.

Laccha (Fresh Tomato & Cucumber Salad)

Makes 4-6 servings

What you’ll need…

  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp (1.25 mL) fresh ground black pepper
  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 English (seedless) cucumber, thinly sliced

What to do…

  1. In a bowl, toss together sliced onion and sea salt; set aside for 10 minutes. Transfer to a mesh strainer or colander and thoroughly rinse with cold water. Press dry, using paper towel if needed. They will be salty!
  2. In the same bowl, combine lemon juice, cumin, black pepper and prepared onions.
  3. Arrange sliced tomatoes and cumber on a serving plate with a rim. Evenly distribute the onion mixture over top. Drizzle with any remaining dressing,


  • The onions can still be salty after rinsing; they provide the seasoning for the whole dish with no additional salt being added. 

Split Pea & Brown Rice Flat Breads

Makes 3-4 servings

What you’ll need…                       

  • 2 cups yellow split peas, soaked for 4-6 hours
  • ½ cup brown basmati rice, soaked for 4-6 hours
  • 1 ½ – 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  •  coconut oil, for frying

What to do…

  1. Rinse/drain the soaked split peas and rice. Transfer to blender or food processor with water and salt.
  2. Blend to form a smooth batter. Start with less water and adjust consistency as needed. The batter will thicken as it sits and may need to be adjusted several times. Let rest a few minutes before cooking.
  3. In a non-stick skillet, heat some coconut oil over medium-high. When the pan is hot, add ¼ cup (60 mL) batter. Spread into a thin layer by rotating the pan in a circular motion. Batter should be thin enough to form roughly a 6-inch (15 cm) round. Allow to cook until top is bubbled and nearly dry.
  4. Flip the flatbread over and cook 2-3 minutes longer, or until cooked through. Remove from the pan, and set aside at room temperature while preparing the rest of the batter.
  5. Add some more oil if needed, and prepare the next one using the same process and adjusting the batter consistency as needed.

Optional Add-Ins. After blending the batter, stir through…

  • 2 tsp (10 mL) each crushed fennel seeds and kalonji (nigella seeds,) 1-3 cloves garlic, minced fine or 2 tbsp chopped cilantro.