Samosa Stuffing Over Coconut "Rice" With Lime-Mint Sauce

This is my soul food. Tumeric, cumin, and cardamom spiced chickpeas and veggies, with a pinch of cinnamon, over cauliflower coconut rice and topped off with a cool and tangy lime-mint sauce.  The colors, the smells, the TASTE! It is heavenly. And unlike fried samosas, which I love with all my heart, this dish is low in calories, extremely heart healthy, packed with nutritious goodness, and fantastically filling.
Despite my deep, undying love of Indian food, it has taken me until the ripe old age of 26 to try cooking any in my own kitchen. This is partly because I was spoiled enough to have an Indian best friend in high school whose mother would send me home from their house with tupperware filled with amazing, traditional home-cooked meals. But if I am honest, it is mostly because Indian spices are so intimidating. I felt like didn't know where to even start.

Last Christmas, I finally did a little research on the top-12, must-have Indian spices, bought them in bulk, and packaged them up as gifts and, of course, kept a set for myself. Out of all the recipes that I've tried, this is my favorite! It is so hearty and nourishing. Sometimes, I go all out and put the stuffing in wonton wrappers and bake them to make a lighter version of samosas, but most of the time I can't be bothered.
Besides the delicious earthy flavors, this meal contains a number of nutritional powerhouses that do so many amazing things for your body (click on foods for links to nutritional data):
  • Promotes heart health: This dish is packed with fiber and low in cholesterol, thanks to the peas, chickpeas, and spinach! Diets high in fiber are shown to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Plus it evens our blood sugar levels, keeps you full longer, and helps your digestive system move things along.
  • Prevents cancer/detoxifies the body: Like broccoli, cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetables that releases a sulfur-containing phytochemical in our body called glucosinolates. These little guys detoxify the body by activating enzymes in the liver that help disarm and eliminate carcinogens before they can cause celluar damange. To get the most out of the cauliflower, avoid boiling or microwaving it.
  • Helps build and maintain muscles: This dish is filled with multiple sources of plant-based, low-cholesterol protein. One cup of chickpeas has 15 grams of protein and one cup of frozen peas has nearly as much with 12 grams. Cashews, while higher in fat, also contain a good amount of protein, at 5 grams per protein 28 grams (not to mention magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese)! 
  • Is rich in tons of key vitamins and minerals
    • Vitamin A (spinach, peas, carrotsonions, spinach): Important for vision, the immune system, and cell growth (think healthy skin, nails, and hair).
    • Vitamin B6 (spinach, chickpeas, cauliflower, peas): Needed for maintaining healthy brain and nerve function, helps metabolize fats and proteins, and vital for synthesizing antibodies that fight disease.
    • Vitamin C (spinach, cauliflower, peas): Boosts the immune system and vital for cell growth and repair.
    • Vitamin K (peas and onions): Helps us store calcium in our bones.
    • Iron (spinach, chickpeas, cashews): Helps blood cells transport oxygen to the brain and body.
    • Zinc (nuts, peas, chickpeas): Key for cell growth and repair, boosts immune system, and vital for vision and fertility.
    • Folate (spinach, peas, chickpeas, cauliflower): Prevents neural tube defects and reduces levels of homocysteine, a naturally occurring amino acid that can damage blood vessels and lead to heart disease, stroke, dementia, and peripheral vascular disease.
Not to mention the long list of benefits that come with all the spices!
  • Ginger: There is reason you reach for ginger when you're sick. This little plant is antiviral, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory. Plus it can soothe an upset stomach, improve circulation, and thin the blood. Numerous studies on humans have also shown ginger to have a positive impact on pain and fever
  • Mustard seeds: So I was surprised to find out that this spice is actually part of the brassica family, alongside superstars like broccoli, kale, and brussels sprouts. Like its brothers and sisters, mustard seeds are packed with cancer-fighting substances like indoles, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane.
  • Turmeric: Curcuminoids, which are what gives tumeric its bright yellow color that threatens to stain everything, are also what gives it superpowers! It is a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation in the body and helps alleviate arthritis and joint pain. It also has antitumor properties, reducing the size and number of tumors in animals that have them. It improves heart health by reducing cholesterol and is known to boost liver health.
  • Cardamom: Like ginger, it helps with digestion, but for different reasons. It contains a compound called carminative, which reduces cramps by helping the body expel gas from the stomach and intestines. It also supports liver health by stimulating bile flow and fat metabolism.
  • Cayenne pepper: It helps increase circulation, break up congestion/mucus, and stimulate digestion by increasing the body's production of saliva, gastric juices, and digestive enzymes.
Hopefully these are enough reasons to consider giving this recipe a try!

Samosa Stuffing Over Coconut "Rice" With Lime-Mint Sauce

Makes 6 portions 
Time: 45 minutes

1 cup cashews, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, diced (approx. 1 cup)
3-4 carrots, diced
2-3 inches ginger, minced or grated (approx. 2-3 Tbsp.)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups, frozen peas
15 oz. can chickpeas, washed and drained
1 tsp. salt 
5-6 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp. + 1tsp. cumin seeds
1 Tbsp. mustard seeds
3/4 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. coridander
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp.-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Lime-Mint Sauce:
11/2 cups greek yogurt
Juice 2 limes
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt (more to taste)

Cauliflower Rice:
1 medium-size head of cauliflower, grated or processed in food processor
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup coconut flakes

Samosa Stuffing:
1. In a large nonstick pan on medium-low heat, toast cashews until they begin to brown, mixing frequently to avoid burning. Set aside and let cool.
2. Turn pan to medium heat, add coconut oil, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds. Cook until the seeds begin to pop.
3. Add remaining spices, ginger, onions, and carrots. Cook until onions and carrots soften, about 10 minutes.
4. Add spinach, cover pan and steam until spinach wilts, about 8 minutes. 
5. Add in frozen peas and chickpeas. Cook until the peas are warmed through.
6. Serve over coconut cauliflower rice (recipe below), sprinkle with toasted cashews, and top with mint-lime sauce (recipe below).
Lime-Mint Sauce:
1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor/blende and pulse until combined and chill in the fridge.

Cauliflower Rice:
1. In a large nonstick pan on medium-low heat, toast coconut flakes until they begin to brown, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Remove coconut and set aside. 
2. In the same pan on medium heat, add coconut oil, salt, and grated cauliflower. Cook for about 5-8 minutes.
3. Add toasted coconut and serve immediately.

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