Archive for the ‘Indian’ Category

Vegetable Drawer Survivors: Vegan Curry

October 29, 2018

I’ve been traveling for work, as I often do.  I came home to a house with soup and pizza in the freezer and not much else in the way of foodstuffs, as I often do.  I left two items in the vegetable drawer, partly to see how hardy they are:  a head of orange cauliflower and a small bunch of collard greens.  Both survived in pretty fine form.  Both appear in tonight’s dinner.

I’ve taken a liking to chickpeas with cauliflower.  Neither tastes like all that much on its own.  Both take on flavor really nicely.  One crunchy and one creamy, the perfect pair.  It doesn’t hurt that I always have canned chickpeas in the house.  So, that’s how I landed on cauliflower and chickpea curry for dinner.

This is a tomato curry.  Lucky for me, I have a basement full of home canned tomatoes.  They have a brighter flavor than the canned ones you get from the store.  And since you home can in jars, they never have the slightly tinny taste that you sometimes get from an off can of store bought tomatoes. So, the advice is the same as always.  When you have only a few ingredients, use the best ones you can reasonably find and afford.  This curry has strong enough spices that you can get away with slightly more mediocre tomatoes if that’s what you have in the house.

Now comes confession time.  I didn’t have any fresh ginger in the house. I did have the end of a bottle of “squeeze ginger.”  You cannot make this up.  So, I cheated.  I used that instead of fresh.  Here’s the thing.  It’s not really a one for one substitute.  Fresh ginger is only that, ginger.  Squeeze ginger has a little sugar and a little vinegar in it.  Here’s my logic in using it anyway.  A little sugar never hurts against a heavy spice.  The tomatoes have a little acid added to them so they’ll keep in the jars, so a touch more acid from the vinegar would probably be ok.  Sound logic?  Probably not, but it worked for me.

This is super easy to put together.  Took me about 35 minutes including chopping and cooking.  With rice and/or naan alongside, this probably feeds 5-6.  As stew, more like 4.  But I have a major portion control problem when it comes to foods I like, so use your own judgment.

Here’s what you need:

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The very astute among you will notice that there’s a jar of yellow curry paste in this photo.  That’s a HUGE mistake.  I need curry powder for this.  Generally speaking, curry powder is for Indian dishes and curry paste is for Thai dishes.  Curry paste has a bunch of other stuff in it, usually including lime and coconut.  Not a terrific match for Indian curries.  Fortunately I caught my mistake before I started cooking.

This is supposed to be yellow curry powder, but I only had Madras so that’s what I used.

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I’ve never seen collard greens in a recipe for curry, but I had some and an extra leafy green never hurt anyone so in they went!  They add a little bitterness.  Just be sure to cut them in thin ribbons so they’ll cook through.  Remove the stems from the leaves and stack the leaves on top of each other.  Roll them into a cigar shape and then cut the rolls into ribbons.  Here’s what everything looks like chopped.

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Here’s what you really need:

  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into pieces
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 5-6 small collard leaves, stemmed and cut into ribbons
  • 1 T oil – olive or canola or vegetable
  • 2 t curry powder (Madras or yellow)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced (or 1 T squeeze ginger)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 14-15 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 C water or vegetable stock
  • salt to taste

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil until it shimmers and add the curry powder
  • Stir the curry powder until fragrant (1-2 minutes)
  • Add the onions, saute 6-7 minutes, until the onions are soft
  • Add the ginger, garbanzo beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, collards, bay leaf and water
  • Mix gently and bring to a simmer
  • Cover and cook 15-20 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked through, but not mushy – Stir a couple of times as it cooks
  • Remove the bay leaf
  • Serve as stew or over rice

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How’d it turn out?

I made the curry early.  One of my pups has a pack walk tonight.  No time to eat before and no interest in starting to cook after.  So, I cook before and eat after.  Extra time stewing in its own juices never hurt a stew or a curry.

Let’s start with the pluses.  The flavors are fantastic!  It tastes like sunshine.  It’s warm and delightful!  I’m imagining that it will help me get over a cold that’s trying to settle in.  It’ll be even better tomorrow I’m sure.  And it’s beautiful.  The colors are vibrant and warm.

What would I do differently?  First, I would chop the collards instead of slicing them in ribbons.  It was weird to have stringy collards in there.  And maybe next time I’d use chard if I wanted to add a green.  Second, I would serve it over rice, or even grits or polenta.  The broth is really flavorful, but it’s really thin.  It seems too thin for the chunky cauliflower and chickpeas.  And too thin for a curry.  Maybe you could blend some chickpeas with some broth and add it back to the pot, though that doesn’t seem right either.  Maybe some tomato paste cooked in.  I’ll have to try it again to see.

Here’s a link to the recipe that served as tonight’s inspiration.

And if you love cauliflower and chickpeas together as much as I do, here’s a Thai style curry I hope you’ll like too!

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Palak Paneer

August 8, 2018

It’s turned out to be International Vegetarian Week in One Woman’s Kitchen!  And that’s not a bad thing.  I love it when I get to remind myself that there’s a whole world of yummy food out there.  And if it’s mostly plants, well, Michael Pollan would be proud.  I’m not giving up bacon any time soon, but this is the second of two fantastic dishes to come out of the kitchen this week! (See the Vegetarian Enchiladas for the first one.)

I’ve actually made a version of this before.  It’s a recipe from a Rasika cookbook.  Rasika is my favorite Indian restaurant in the US. If you’re ever in DC and you like Indian food, make it a destination!  Last time I made Malai Palak, so no paneer.  It’s not that hard, and nothing too unusual except for the fenugreek powder, which I leave out.  This time I wanted to add a protein and I choose paneer instead of chicken, which would work just as well if you’re not vegetarian.

If you’re not familiar with paneer, it’s a very firm cheese.  It tastes to me like cottage cheese might taste if it came in a block.  It doesn’t melt so it will hold its shape when you add it to boiling spinach.  It’s available in most large grocery stores, but if not, certainly in an Indian market.

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that there’s no need to stem the spinach.  I’m pretty OCD about removing the stems even from baby spinach. I think they’re ugly to look at and unpleasant to deal with as you eat.  This spinach is going in the food processor so it doesn’t matter!

The key to making this successfully is mis en place.  Translation:  get your act together before you start.  Blanch all the spinach.  Do all your chopping.  Get out your spices so you don’t have to hunt for them when you need them.  Once you get started, things move fairly quickly.  The second tip is when it says “stir constantly,” do it.  It’s a defensive move as much as a cooking instruction.  Keeping the mixture moving prevents a lot of cursing.  Because it prevents being splattered by boiling hot spinach, which HURTS.  Warning issued.

First things first.  Blanch the spinach (a pound of it).  All that means is put it in a pot of boiling water for a few seconds, until it wilts; and then pull it out of the pot and move it to a bowl of ice water.  That stops the cooking and keeps the bright green color.  Set it aside in a strainer and let it drain. Don’t worry too much about getting the water out.  You’re going to add water to it in a sec.  Add the spinach to a blender or food processor and some water, up to a cup.  Puree.

Beyond the spinach here’s what you need:

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  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 1/2 t cumin seed
  • 2 1/2 C diced onion
  • 1 T minced fresh ginger
  • 1 t minced thai chili or jalapeno
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1/4 C  heavy cream (optional, but good)
  • 1 C paneer cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 t salt

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan.  When it shimmers add the cumin seeds and garlic. Brown the garlic.  30 seconds.
  • Add the onions.  Cook until the onions are brown. 5 minutes

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  • Add the ginger, jalapeno, and turmeric.  Stir 30 seconds.  Add the spinach. (Watch the splatter!)

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  • Stir constantly for 5 minutes.
    • You  know how two minutes talking to a friend is completely different than two minutes brushing your teeth?  This is a tooth brushing 5 minutes.  Watch the clock or set a timer.

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  • Reduce the heat.  Add cream, paneer, and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Stir another 5 minutes. Same rules apply about the splatter.

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I served mine over rice so it felt like a full meal. Feel free to serve it as a side or with naan.  Frankly it’s also amazing over eggs.  This is a food I could eat 3 times a day.  The paneer adds a nice texture.  The bad news is that it won’t take me long to get through this batch.  The good news is that it’s not that hard to make more!

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Chicken Green Masala – Wow!

May 21, 2018

It’s been a while!  I haven’t made anything very interesting lately, but this is a major comeback dish!  If you’ve been reading then you know I love Indian food.  And I’m overjoyed to find that I can make a darn good version of many dishes at home.  I’m incapable of cooking for one so I love dishes that make good leftovers. Check!  And I love versatile dishes.  Check!

This is a variation of a dish from my Rasika cookbook.  Rasika is my favorite Indian restaurant.  It’s in DC so I get to go there a few times a year.  Just can’t say enough good things about it.  If you have a chance, make a trip there.  If you don’t, get the cookbook.  This dish is really popular in the restaurant.  It’s described as really spicy so I’ve been afraid to try it there.  Maybe a good call.  My version made my nose run and my forehead sweat!

Let’s start with the masala.  You can make this ahead.  I love blender sauces because the chopping is minimal.  Note that you use the cilantro stems here.  Love that too, less waste.  Now let’s talk about the chiles.  The recipe calls for 10 Thai chiles.  I’ll admit that my chile knowledge is pretty minimal, but that sound super hot to me.  Medical emergency inducing hot.  My grocery store didn’t have any Thai chiles yesterday so I got a serrano and a jalapeno.  Honestly I didn’t notice that the recipe said 10 chiles until I started.  Just as well.  Plenty hot.  Plenty.  I did include the veins and seeds of both peppers because I was afraid of missing the mark by a lot.  That was a good call if you like spicy.

Here’s what you need for the herb puree: (serves 4)

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  • 1 smallish bunch cilantro, amounting to 2 cups roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C packed fresh mint leaves (spearmint)
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 large jalapeno, roughly chopped
  • 1 small serrano, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/4 C fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 C water

Here’s what you do:

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  • Put everything in a blender and puree 2-3 minutes until very smooth

Make the puree a day before if you like.  The chicken doesn’t take very long making this an easy weeknight meal.  I cheated some on the chicken.  The recipe calls for whole cardamom pods; a cinnamon stick; and whole cloves.  I have all of those thing.  What I don’t have is a spice grinder.  So, moving to ground. I had cardamom and cinnamon, but no ground cloves.  Grr.  What I did have was garam masala.  It includes all of the required spices plus a few other things.  Close enough!

Here’s what you need for the chicken:

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  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 C finely chopped onion
  • 1-1 1/2 lbs chicken, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 2/3 C unsweetened coconut milk

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pot (with a lid) until the oil shimmers (no smoke)
  • Add the onions and saute until soft, but not brown
  • Add chicken, turmeric and salt
  • Cook with the lid on for 4-5 minutes, stirring a few times
  • Add the herb mixture, coconut milk, and garam masala
  • Bring to a boil
  • Cook 5 minutes, until the chicken is done

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Serve with rice, naan, and yogurt or cucumber raita.

One note.  When you cook the chicken with the lid on it traps the moisture inside, adding a little liquid to your pot.  It keeps the chicken from sticking and burning.

So, what’s versatile about this dish?  You can control the heat.  Leave the chiles out completely if you like.  It’s super easy to make as a vegetarian dish.  Make it with tofu or seitan instead of chicken.  You can control the schedule.  Do the puree ahead or do the whole thing ahead. This dish is designed to eat the next day.  This puree would be good on roasted cauliflower or with shrimp.

I only made 1/2 the recipe, and those are the amounts I’ve provided.  It’s still easily 3-4 servings even without a side dish.  I will say that I made a full cup or cucumber raita and used nearly half of it tonight.  I’m ok with that.  I really enjoyed the heat and was really grateful for the relief as well!

Here’s how it turned out: (cookbook photo on the left, mine on the right)

HOT!  But so yummy.  I’ll make it again for sure.  I’m guessing I’ll make this cilantro puree a lot.  Without the chiles it would be fantastic as a dip for bread or roasted vegetables.  Nice as a sauce for rice as a side dish.  And a great way to use up cilantro stems!

Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

March 19, 2018

It’s Meatless Monday!  I had a fridge fully of vegetables that needed to become something so I started roasting them.  You can use roasted vegetables in place of raw vegetables in most things and you get the extra flavor.  It also shortens the cooking time of the dish you use them in.  So today I have roasted broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and garlic.  I did a search on epicurious.com for roasted cauliflower to give me some inspiration.

I found this recipe for chickpea curry with cauliflower, tomatoes, and spinach.  Perfect. All things I have.  One of my favorite chickpea curries is a Thai curry with cauliflower and coconut milk that I make in the Crock-Pot.  Having another chickpea curry in my repertoire seemed like a really good idea.

This is super good and super healthy.  I ate it like stew so no rice or bread.  I only wish I’d had a little plain yogurt to dollop on top!

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 t olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  •  1 T ginger, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1-1/2 C water
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut and roasted
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 3 C fresh spinach, stemmed
  • chopped cilantro, optional

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Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot until it begins to smoke
  • Add the onions.  Cook until golden brown.

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  • Add the ginger, garlic, and curry powder.  Stir for 1 minute.
  • Add the chickpeas and water.  Salt the water (1-2 t).  Bring to a boil.  Cover.  Cook 7-10 minutes, until the chickpeas are tender.

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  • Add the cauliflower and tomatoes.  Simmer uncovered another 7-10 minutes, until the cauliflower and tomatoes are heated through.
  • Stir in the spinach, in batches if needed to make it fit.  When the spinach is wilted, salt to taste.

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Here’s how it turned out:

Yum!  I like that this is definitely curry, but not overly spicy.  I love a curry that makes your nose run, but not all the time.  With the spinach and fresh tomatoes, this has just the right early Spring feel about it.

I feel like it’s pretty versatile.  You could definitely serve it over rice to bulk it up.  You could dish it up with a slotted spoon to drain the liquid and serve it as a side dish.  You could add some chicken or shrimp.  Have fun with it!

Here’s the inspiration recipe for you to check out!

Tip Be careful biting into these tomatoes.  They are flaming hot on the inside.  If you bite into one it’s going to squirt lava hot tomato all over the inside of your mouth.  Maybe cut them first.

Malai Palak (Indian Creamed Spinach)

February 11, 2018

Another recipe from my Rasika cookbook, it’s been on my list for a couple of weeks. I had just a little of the chicken curry left and this was nice to have alongside.  It’s nothing like the creamed spinach you may be used to, served with steak and filled with cheese and cream and butter.  I’m not knocking that, but this is definitely not that.  No cheese and with much less cream.  It turned out slightly more like spinach sauce or soup than I expected.  It tastes good and the onions give it some texture, but it still might be nice for it to be a little bit toothier.

I did make a couple of substitutions.  I used part of a jalapeno instead of a Thai green chili, less heat and a pepper slightly easier to come by.  I looked for fenugreek leaves and fenugreek leaf powder, but no luck.  Of course I combed the interwebs looking for a suitable substitute.  Here’s what’s weird. Some sites listed maple syrup and some sites listed fennel and others celery leaves.  Odd.  Maple syrup seemed kind of out there.  You have to buy a whole fennel bulb or a jar of fennel seeds.  I’m not a huge fan of fennel so I wouldn’t have a lot of use for the leftovers.  That left me with celery leaves.

For the spinach:

  • 1 large clamshell of spinach (10oz)
  • handful celery leaves
  • 3/4 C water

Blanche the spinach in boiling water and transfer immediately into a bowl of iced water.  That’s how you keep the bright green color.  Drain.  Add spinach, celery leaves, and water to a blender.  Process until smooth.

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Here’s the spice/aromatic part of the ingredients list: (my photo disappeared!)

  • 1/4 C canola oil
  • 1/2 t cumin seeds
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 C diced onion
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 1 t diced jalapeno
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1/4 C cream
  • salt to taste

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan.  When it shimmers add the cumin seeds and garlic. Brown the garlic.  30 seconds.
  • Add the onions.  Cook until the onions are brown. 5 minnutes
  • Add the ginger, jalapeno, and turmeric.  Stir 30 seconds.  Add the spinach.
  • Stir constantly for 5 minutes.  Be careful of the splatter.
  • Reduce the heat.  Add cream and salt.  Bring to a boil  Cook another 5 minutes.

Here’s how it went:

Other than the fenugreek, this recipe is pretty easy and pretty good.  It’s beautifully bright green.  It has a toasty flavor with just a little heat.  I did end up with a green polka dotted kitchen.  There’s a LOT of splatter when you add the spinach.  It’s a great side dish.  I imagine it will be good served over rice.  The cookbook offers adding cubed paneer  or potatoes as good variations.  Palak paneer makes a good entree and adding some potatoes would give some weight to the spinach as a side.  All in all, two thumbs up!  My array of Indian food at home is increasing!

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UPDATE:  This is absolutely a multi-use vegetable side.  It makes a fantastic topping for scrambled eggs and an amazing sauce for pasta!

Tariwala Murgh (Chicken Curry)

February 5, 2018

I think I’ve mentioned how much I love Indian food. Love it.  But I rarely make it at home.  It’s often full of ingredients that aren’t familiar to me and that I don’t usually have in the house.  This year I bought a beautiful cookbook from Rasika, my favorite Indian restaurant in DC.  I decided I would be brave.  I would collect some of the ingredients I didn’t know and I would jump in and make some of this wonderful food.

This cookbook does a wonderful job of explaining all of the spices you’ll encounter.  Even better, it tells you in how many recipes you’ll encounter those spices.  This was a big help to me in deciding which ones I should buy to get the most bang for my buck.  For this one, I ordered deggi murch.  It’s a special chili powder.  While I don’t have everything I need to cook my way through this book, I do have an extensive spice cabinet.  I do keep turmeric, cardamon, cumin seed and garam masala in the pantry, so that made this that much easier.

I’ll admit this is not an easy recipe.  It has a lot of ingredients and it takes a long time.  The recipe commentary recommends that you make this a day or two ahead of serving it, so I haven’t even eaten any yet to know if it’s worth it!  That comes tomorrow.

I feel confident that you could use this masala on vegetables just as well, but I used chicken because that’s what the recipe says.  It also says you could make it with lamb. So, very versatile.  And it freezes well.  If it’s good enough to make it again I’ll probably make double.  It won’t be much more trouble to double the amounts and having some in the freezer would be worth it.

This is “Home-style Chicken Curry” so everyone does it a little differently.  I followed the recipe as closely as possible.  I did use home canned tomatoes instead of fresh.  They just taste better than Winter tomatoes in Virginia which taste like nothing.  And I used some bottled ginger to make the paste because that seemed like exactly the right use for ginger that was already kind of paste-like.  Oh, and I substituted ground cumin for ground coriander.  It seemed closer that substituting fresh cilantro, which is the plan that produces coriander seeds.

So settle in.  Here we go.  Just kidding. The description will be a LOT shorter than the actual process!

Here’s what you need, with my adjustments:

  • 1 pint canned tomatoes
  • 2 C water
  • 6T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 t cumin seeds
  • 4 green cardamon pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 Indian bay leaves
  • 1/2 an onion sliced thinly
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • 2 T Ginger-Garlic paste (process 1 part ginger, 3 parts garlic and some water into a paste)
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1 t deggi mirch
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken, chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 C hot water
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 t garam masala

Whew!  That’s the list.  But there are fewer steps than ingredients!

Here;s what you do:

  • Set out the chicken to come to room temperature and salt it.
  • Puree the tomatoes and water in a blender
  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot until the oil shimmers.  Cast iron or enameled cast iron are your best bets.  Add the cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves.  When the cumin starts to crackle, add the onion.

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  • Cook 7-10 minutes, until the onion is brown.  Add the garlic.  Cook another 3-5 minutes.  The garlic should be brown.  Watch it carefully or it will burn.
  • Add the Ginger-Garlic Paste.  Have the lid nearby!  This stuff cracks and pops in that hot oil.  Cook it 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomato puree.  Bring to a boil.  And the turmeric, deggi mirch, and cumin.  Cook 15 minutes.  You’ll end up with a loose paste.

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  •  Add the salted chicken and ginger.  Cover the pot.  Cook 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
  • Add the water, lemon juice, and garam masala.  Reduce heat to medium.  Cover the pot, cook 10 minutes.  It will be soupy when you’re done.

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Serve with rice and naan.  That comes tomorrow.  Fingers crossed that this was all worth it!

 

Red Lentil Dal

January 14, 2018

Vegetarian dinner, day 2!  And another day to use the new bowl cozies I made.  These are a genius invention for those of us who mostly eat while sitting on the couch.  Equally useful for carrying hot bowls back and forth to the table.

So cute!  But I digress.

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I love Indian food.  Love it.  And frequent trips to London have helped me love it all the more.  I didn’t eat dal for a long time.  Let’s be real, they mostly look pretty gross.  And I have some texture issues with food anyway.  But I’ve come around.  There are all kinds of lentils, the base of dal.  Some of them hold their shape and some don’t.  The red ones don’t, but this tastes so good it doesn’t matter.  Keeping your rice a little firm helps balance the texture as well.

One of the wonderful things about Indian food is the layers of spices.  And these are all spices you can find in any grocery store, but some of them you may not keep on hand.  We’ll talk substitutions as we go.  I found the recipe on a site called “The Wanderlust Kitchen” that seems to have a lot of good stuff, so check that out when you have a minute.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 green chili pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced (serrano for spicy, jalapeno for more mild)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced ginger root
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • Juice of one half a lemon
  • Chopped cilantro leaves and plain yogurt for garnish

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I think you could substitute ground cinnamon and ground cumin for the stick and the see forms, respectively.  I’d advise against using ginger powder instead of fresh, but if you have bottled, that’s probably ok.  Cardamom is a unique flavor so worth buying a small jar.

Here’s what you do (annotated):

Place the rinsed lentils in a medium saucepan along with 3 cups of room temperature water. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.

I brought mine to a simmer and cooked them with the lid mostly on, but tilted to vent.  Start the rice at the same time as the lentils.  Add some salt to the water for both the lentils and the rice.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and cinnamon stick; cook for 60 to 90 seconds, until fragrant.

I broke my cinnamon stick in half to release more flavor.

Add the onion, green chili pepper, garlic, and ginger; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are turning translucent.

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Add the turmeric, cardamom, paprika, salt, and tomato to the pan. Cook until the tomato begins to fall apart, about 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.

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Stir the spiced onion mixture into the pot of lentils. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Taste and add salt as needed.

Garnish with cilantro; serve with basmati rice and naan.

I left off the naan and added a dollop of yogurt.  I also added more lemon juice and some salt.  

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Here’s what I thought:

It comes together easily enough to make for a week night meal or as a side.  It took me longer than the 20 minutes quoted in the original, but that could be me.  My technical knife skills aren’t bad, but I’m not fast.  Takes me a few minutes to get all the chopping and measuring done.  I’ve become increasingly appreciative of mis en place – getting all the prep work done before the cooking begins.  It’ll save you time in the end.

It definitely needed more lemon juice and salt.  Lentils are pretty earthy on their own and they take spice very nicely.  This is a rich and wonderful dish.  I chose the jalapeno over the Serrano chili so it wasn’t overly heat spicy.  Just enough to liven up all of the other spices.  An excellent dish for a cold January night. This is one to add to your list of comfort foods.

Chickpeas in Curried Coconut Broth

February 25, 2013

Well folks, it’s been a while!  I’ve been traveling for work for most of the last two weeks and trying to empty the fridge in the days leading up to the travel-thon.  I’ve eaten some very nice meals in the last couple of weeks, but you know how it is when you travel – too much food and too much booze.  I’m awfully glad to be home and in control of my meals again.  I’m trying to shock my system back into healthy eating so I’ve been on a vegetarian kick.  Two days of lentil soup and now this chickpea dish.

Chickpeas

I have to confess that I’m not a big fan of the chickpea in its non-hummus form.  I picked this dish from a list of Cooking Light slow cooker recipes because it fit the easy and cheap criteria and because I love pretty much anything with coconut milk in it.  It far exceeded my expectations.  You have to love crockpot recipes.  Dump everything in and walk away.  This recipe suggests that you saute the onions and garlic first, but I bet it would be really fine to dump them in raw.  The recipe also calls for chopped fresh cilantro.  I’m sure that would be great, but I was too tired and too lazy to chop it.  I did manage a dollop of plain Greek yogurt though.  Yum.

Not much to add in terms of cooking tips.  I used one of my last remaining jars of home canned tomatoes.  With so few ingredients I believe they make a difference here.  I also used homemade curry powder.  I’d give you the recipe, but I have no idea what it is or where I got it.  Curry powder is just a combination of spices so making your own is easy and absolutely worth it if you use it a lot.  If you don’t make curries often just buy a good quality commercial curry powder.  Otherwise you’ll spend a ridiculous amount of money on the individual spices and not get a lot of use out of them.

I always think that things made with coconut milk will be a little bit sweet.  Not so.  This is tomato-ey and a touch briny with a little heat.  The chickpeas provide a nice neutral balance and the yogurt adds a little creamy and a little tangy.  Yum.  Remember that this is a broth and not a sauce or a stew.  It’s thin, but not weak.  The rice soaks up a lot of the extra and stretches the chickpeas even further.  You could serve it like soup and serve it with naan I suppose, but I recommend the rice.

I’m guessing this will be one of those dishes that’s even better leftover.  Tomorrow is supposed to be cold and rainy so this will make a perfect lunch!

Good? Really good.
Easy? Crockpots make everything easy.
Good for company? Eh. Better for a weeknight dinner after a busy day.
Special shopping? Nope. Curry powder is everywhere and you can find pickled jalapenos in the pickle section of any decent sized grocery store.

Chickpeas in Curried Coconut Broth

Ingredients

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (19-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 quart whole peeled tomatoes (or 1 28oz can, undrained)
1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeño pepper
1 teaspoon salt
hot cooked basmati rice
plain Greek yogurt for garnish

Directions

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Place onion mixture, chickpeas, and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a 3 1/2-quart electric slow cooker; stir well. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours. Serve over rice. Top with yogurt.

Butter Chicken (Indian Chicken in Tomato Cream Sauce)

April 11, 2012

Tonight I’ve decided to forego an evening of trim painting for two of my other favorite -ings:  cooking and eating.  Tonight’s dinner is not quite as decadent as it sounds, but it’s that good.  Lots of pluses for this dish.  It’s Indian and I love Indian food.  It’s hot and spicy – perfect for a cold evening like this one.  It comes together in less than 30 minutes and requires a minimum of chopping.  And if you serve it with naan instead of rice it’s a one pot meal.  All good.  Very good.

I actually followed the recipe here nearly exactly.  I had to substitute fresh ginger for ground because it’s what I had in the house.  And I left out the peas because I don’t like peas.  Other than that I read and measured carefully.  I used my home canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, which I like to think makes a difference.  As recommended I used a rotisserie chicken.  I bought and picked the chicken last night which saved me a bunch of time tonight.  A couple of tips about working with a rotisserie chicken.  Skin it and pick it while it’s still warm.  It’s SO much easier that way.  But, if you’re planning to use the chicken the next day leave it in large pieces where you can (breast and thighs).  It’ll help keep the moisture in.  Refrigerate it overnight and the chop or dice it while it’s cold.  It will hold it’s shape much better and be easier to chop.

This is yummy stuff.  Rich enough to be smooth and silky, but not so rich that you feel like you can only eat one bite.  Trust me, you should eat lots of bites of this.  The flavors are really complex in a wonderful way.  The garam masala makes it wonderfully aromatic.  The cayenne gives it a nice heat.  The tomatoes give it a little acidity.  The cream gives it a welcome softness.  It’s a truly lovely combination.  I served mine with whole grain naan which added just enough earthiness to round it out completely.  The biggest plus it that this makes a big pot of chicken and I’m thinking that the leftovers will be even better.  I’m looking forward to lunch tomorrow!

Good? So, so good.
Easy? Yes. Terrifically easy.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Garam masala spice blend is available in most big groceries, but try a spice store like Penzey’s to get a high quality one.

Butter Chicken (Indian Chicken in Tomato Cream Sauce)

Ingredients

Spice Blend:
1 tablespoon garam masala seasoning
3 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 teaspoons jarred minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 skinless rotisserie chicken, boned out and pulled into 1 1/2 by 1/2-inch chunks
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Naan, warmed according to package directions, for serving

Directions

To make the spice blend: Stir the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the pieces just begin to turn gold, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste and spice blend, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning. The spices will be fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and stir will. Add the chicken pieces, spoon the sauce over the top and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is warmed through and the sauce is flavorful, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently. Remove the chicken to a serving dish and cover to keep warm.

Serve with rice and/or naan.

Lamb Vindaloo – Crock Pot Style

March 6, 2012

Crazy days at work and crazy days of weather have made this a good week to pull out the slow cooker.  I’m in week two of the Pantry Challenge and having to get a little creative to create something that looks like a complete meal.  My Make It Fast, Cook It Slow cookbook is really coming in handy.  10-15 minutes of prep time and then the food cooks while I work.  Dinner is ready whenever I am.  Perfect.

Let me start by admitting that I know nothing about vindaloos.  A tiny bit of reading reveals that these meat stews sometimes have potatoes in them and are served with naan and sometimes have no potatoes and are served over rice.  Since I had some potatoes left from last week I went in that direction.  So, basically I can only tell you that I enjoyed this dish.  I think it’s good food.  I cannot tell you whether or not it’s good vindaloo.  No idea.  But it made a good dinner.  And lunch.  And dinner.

Part of the point of the pantry challenge is to help me clear some stuff out of the freezer.  There’s a lot of lamb down there so that seemed like a good centerpiece for a meal.  I love Indian food so when I found a recipe that incorporated both I grabbed the chance.  I didn’t have any lamb stew meat so I used shanks instead.  I ended up with less meat, but I don’t think the dish suffered at all.  Having the lamb on the bone adds a lot of flavor.  And since shanks have to cook a long time to be tender they’re perfect for a crock pot recipe.  I had about two cups of baby potatoes (red, yellow and purple) left from last week’s chowder so I used those up.  My last substitution is in the tomatoes. The recipe calls for a can of stewed tomatoes.  You may remember from a New Year’s post that I hate stewed tomatoes.  Hate them.  Clearly I’d never have a can in my pantry. I substituted a pint jar of my home canned tomatoes along with about 1 tablespoon of sugar and a chopped red bell pepper.

Not much to say about the cooking.  Dump everything in the crock pot and let it cook  8 hours or more.  The flavor is dark and rich and spicy.  The potatoes help balance the cayenne, as would the rice if you go that way.  If you think you’ll need a little something extra to balance the heat serve some cucumber raita or a cucumber salad on the side.  I invited a friend to join me for dinner and she was kind enough to bring some naan to go with the vindaloo.  Yum!

Good? Yes, definitely.
Easy? You bet. Gotta love the crock pot.
Good for company? My company seemed to enjoy it.
Special shopping? Nope.

Lamb Vindaloo

Ingredients

4 small to medium lamb shanks
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t ground cloves
1 T minced fresh ginger
1/2 t cayenne
1 T ground coriander
1 T cumin
1 t cinnamon
1/4 C cider vinegar
2 C chopped baby potatoes
1 pint whole peeled or diced tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 T sugar

Directions

Put onion, garlic and spices in a large ziplock bag and mix thoroughly. Add the lamb shanks. Coat the lamb shanks with the spices. Put in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.
Dump the contents of the ziplock bag in the crockpot and add remaining ingredients. Cook on low 8-10 hours.
Serve with naan.