Archive for the 'Indian' Category

Masala Red Lentils with Chard

Our house is filled with Christmas cookies right now.  I could banish them and insist on eating only healthy stuff, but honestly, it’s a couple weeks of my life and I LOVE this time of year and all the sugary goodness that comes with it.

Ellie has gotten it in her head that if she points at something sweet and nods vigorously, we’ll give it to her.  I’m not sure where she got this idea.

Oh wait, this might have something to do with it.

 

This is not a normal occurrence, really.  She usually eats bananas and sweet potatoes and plain yogurt and pears.

I ended my week of laziness with a slooow 22 mile bike ride yesterday.  I was loving life and wondering why I stopped cycling…and then around mile 7 my rear end reminded me that it was ridiculous to think I could just go out and breeze through a ride like this. OW. My plan for 70.3 training is to just do what I want as long as I’m running, swimming, and cycling at least twice a week.  Today I ran a fairly uncomfortable 4.4 miles after work.  Weird that beer and cookies and being lazy for a week doesn’t make you feel light on your feet.

But I listened to a podcast and someone decorated a tree along the path so it wasn’t a completely miserable experience.

This is totally NOT one of those back on track healthy recipes. It’s pretty rich, but the flavor is complex and warm and I made a giant batch of it just so I can eat it for lunch all week.  This is a scaled up recipe from the original and I used chard instead of spinach.  I made saffron rice to serve alongside it and it was a satisfying, delicious meal.

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(slightly adapted from Naturally Ella)

Naan with Nigella Seeds


Here we are in day 2 of real life.

For ten days, Mike and I were both off work, which meant running whenever I felt like it, drinking my favorite beer of the moment and browsing cookbooks until late at night…

going out for ice cream with friends…

and spending the entire day with my favorite baby girl (who, by the way, is as thrilled as I am about the outcome of the Rose Bowl)

We finally made the trek to Humphry Slocombe on New Years, and I am so sorry, Bi-Rite, but I think I like it better.

Chocolte with smoked sea salt was every bit as amazing as you’d imagine it would be. Just salty and smoky enough to balance out the chocolate without overpowering it. I also had tastes of peanut butter curry and butter beer, and loved them too.

But now we’re both back at work, Ellie’s going to daycare (her first day was yesterday and she was happy when I picked her up, plus she slept pretty well last night…I’m so relieved), and I’m somehow trying to maintain a blog, teach crazy 13 year olds all day, cook delicious dinners at night, and not get hopelessly out of shape. We’ll see how this goes.

The beautiful thing about this bread is that you can prep it the day before, then keep the dough in the fridge for a day or two, until you’re ready to bake it. That’s definitely extremely helpful when you’re not home until 5:30 and baking bread from scratch just isn’t going to happen.

Nigella seeds are also known as black caraway, and can be found at Indian grocery stores (where they’re called kalonji) or online.

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South Indian Rice and Tofu Soup

This was originally a Jamie Oliver recipe for seafood and rice soup, using lots of spices and some coconut milk (but also seafood and white rice). Since I don’t eat seafood I added tofu, and I wanted brown rice instead of white. I also wanted to up the vegetable content with some spinach. I just made a few substitutions, and I’m happy to say it worked out really well.

Speaking of substitutions, the long term sub the district found for my maternity leave JUST found out she got a full-time teaching position, so they had to scramble to find another one pretty last-minute (school starts a week from tomorrow!) I am going to meet with her Monday to go over the ins and outs of my classes. I have no idea if she has science/PE/middle school/teaching experience, but I’m hoping for the best!

It’s amazing how much more productive I am when I actually have a reason to get out of bed and do something with my life. I made it to the gym by 5:30 AM the last two mornings and have been feeling fantastic. The workshop has been really awesome and I can’t wait to apply what I learned when I’m finally back to work, even though that feels like an eternity from now.

Recipe
(adapted from Jamie’s Dinners)

3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp mustard seeds
about 10 fresh curry leaves
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala
a pinch or two cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
2 tsp turmeric
a 2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
1 lb block extra firm nigari tofu, cut into small cubes
1 cup brown basmati rice, soaked for at least an hour, and drained
3 cups vegetable broth
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2-3 handfuls fresh spinach, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
juice of 1 lime

Heat the oil over medium in a large pot or dutch oven.

Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, cumin seeds, garam masala, cayenne, and turmeric. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes, until the mustard seeds start popping and turn dark brown.

Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook until the onions are soft, about five minutes.

Add the tofu and mix well.

Stir in the rice and vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, add the coconut milk and simmer for about 20 minutes (adding a little more broth or some water if soup appears too thick).

Stir in salt to taste and continue simmering until rice is soft. Stir in the spinach and lime juice, and serve.

Curried Potatoes with Eggplant

This was Easter dinner. Or, the dinner I ate on Sunday, which happened to be Easter. Things have changed a little since I was 7 years old and Easter meant a frilly dress, jelly beans at church, lamb with mint jelly, and the fancy lace tablecloth on the dining room table. The last few years, Easter has pretty much just been like any other Sunday, with maybe a Cadbury egg or two.

After buying The Art of Vegetarian Indian Cooking on Sunday, I could not wait more than a few hours to cook something out of it, and just kind of randomly stumbled on this recipe out of the hundreds in the book. For years all the Indian recipes I made were pretty Americanized, and although I liked the food I made, it definitely wasn’t as good as what I could get at my favorite Indian place in Bangkok (the best Indian food I’ve ever had). This, however, was definitely FAR better than any Indian food I’ve ever made at home, and rivals the dishes I’ve loved at good Indian restaurants. There’s definitely a little prep-work involved, and I modified the spices to fit what I had on hand, but it actually comes together pretty quickly once everything is assembled. It’s rich, creamy, and flavorful, and I think I’m going to have to double the recipe the next time I make it!

And also, I’ve been meaning to revisit my running goals, since when I wrote mine I was pregnant but didn’t know it yet and they were:

1. Finish the Boston Marathon (not sure what my time goal is yet)
2. Run a sub 21 5K
3. Run a sub 45 10K
4. Run at least 2 trail races

Well. I guess I can put a check next to number 1, but as for the others, I think I’ll push those off to 2012 and make my goal for the rest of 2011 to be to run as long as I can through this pregnancy, and hopefully get back into it not too long after the baby makes her debut. We’ll see!

Recipe:
(adapted from The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking)

3 medium potatoes (about 2 pounds), cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 small eggplant, cut into 3/4″ cubes
1/3 cup plain yogurt (nonfat is fine)
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 habanero or serrano chili, chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened dried coconut
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 t salt
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Set a steamer basket over simmering water and steam the potatoes until tender. Set aside, then steam the eggplant until tender, and set them aside.

Put the yogurt, ginger, chili, and coconut in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Stir in the garam masala.

Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and fry until deep brown, then stir in the potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, or until browning in places. Add the yogurt mixture, turmeric, coriander, eggplant, salt, and 1 1/2 tbsp cilantro.

Turn the heat down to medium low and cook, stirring well, for an additional 5 minutes, then serve garnished with remaining cilantro.

Black Eyed Pea Masala

They’re coming to an end and it HURTS! Those blissful days when I can stay at work until 5, then go for a run, cook dinner, and still take a picture of it in natural light. I can’t stand the thought of trying to make artificially lit photos work (because they just never do), but with work and running slightly (but only slightly) more important to my sanity than my blog, I guess I’ll just have to figure something out. I’ve survived 2 winters of blogging, but I was either in Thailand or not working a real adult job, so this will be a challenge.

On a pretty much completely unrelated note, I somehow ALWAYS have cupboards overflowing with random beans and grains, and I could swear the black eyed peas have been multiplying, because I feel like I’m constantly cooking with them but I keep finding more. Because I’m not that familiar with them, I turned to the queen of dried legumes (I hope she doesn’t mind that title), Branny, who inspired me to cook my own dried beans and stop buying canned. Tack “masala” onto just about anything and it’s a pretty sure bet Mike and I will like it, so I figured this would be good, and it was! I kind of veered off in my own direction when it came to vegetables and spices, but I have Branny to thank for the inspiration.

This is a very quick dinner if your beans are already cooked. I just threw mine in the slow cooker with plenty of water on low in the morning and they were perfect by the time I was ready to cook. It’s vegan if you use vegetable oil, but if you have ghee it would be perfect here.

Recipe:
(inspired by Branny Boils Over)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 thinly sliced serrano chiles (optional)
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups cooked black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 tsp salt
2 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
fresh cilantry, for garnish

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook for about a minute, then stir in the tomatoes. Stir well, lower heat to medium, and add the black eyed peas, spinach, and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the spinach wilts slightly.

To finish, heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a small frying pan. When it’s hot, add the cumin seeds, turmeric, and coriander and let the spices fry for about 30 seconds. Immediately stir them into the black eyed peas and mix well. Serve over rice, garnished with fresh cilantro.

Aloo Gobi

Are you one of those people that constantly ranks things, High Fidelity style? (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this then please watch the movie immediately).

I am. I could sit here right now and list off my top 5 vacation spots, races I’ve run, meals we ate while traveling in Asia, and outfits currently in my closet, but I’ll spare you. I could also tell you my top 5 vegetables to eat, and cauliflower would be nowhere near that list. But Mike loves it, particularly in Aloo Gobi, which I have to admit is pretty good (and it has potatoes, which are in my top 5). It’s another one of those Indian dishes that tastes more complicated than it actually is, and is such a beautiful yellow color that it makes up for the fact that cauliflower normally is, in my opinion, a blah, anemic-looking vegetable.

So regardless of your feelings on cauliflower, this is definitely worth a try.

Recipe:
(adapted from Manjula’s Kitchen)

3 cups of cut cauliflower (cut into small florets)
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (cubed into bite sized pieces)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 tablespoons water + additional water while cooking
3 tablespoons oil
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro

Combine the ginger, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and cumin seeds in a small bowl and stir in 3 tbsp water.

Heat the oil in a dutch oven until hot, then add the paste and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes (it may splatter – be careful!)

Add the bay leaves, cauliflower, and potatoes, and stir well. Add 1/4 cup water and the salt, turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. If things start sticking or beginning to burn on the bottom of the pan, add a little water and keep stirring.

When the vegetables are tender, taste and add salt if necessary, then garnish with chopped cilantro to serve.

Chana Masala

Sunday was pretty much a perfect day. It included a 16 mile run, a few hours at the beach, a visit to the grocery store, and homemade Indian food for dinner. There’s a lot to be said for having low standards, and I think if that’s all I need to have a fabulous weekend, my life will be pretty easy.

I used to be incredibly intimidated by cooking Indian food at home. It seemed like no matter what I did, the results never came close to my favorite dishes from a restaurant, and that frustrated the crap out of me. I wasn’t willing to give up, though. I got a couple cookbooks, paid a visit to an Indian grocery store, and immersed myself in sambar, a whole bunch of different types of dal, and spices I’d never used before like fenugreek seeds and fresh curry leaves.

If you’re not quite ready to invest in a whole new pantry full of spices, flours, and legumes, this is a perfect recipe for you. It’s the best chana masala I’ve ever made, and I’ve tried quite a few recipes. You probably have everything you need right now, but if you don’t, you can probably find it all at your average grocery store. The best part? It is incredibly quick and easy, which is perfect for those lazy Sundays when you don’t get home from the beach until the sun is going down.

Recipe:
(adapted from RecipeZaar via Daily Unadventures in Cooking)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1 15oz can chickpeas – do not drain (or about 2 cups cooked beans with liquid)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger

Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium high heat, then add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown (5-7 minutes)
Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cumin seeds, and curry powder, and let cook for about a minute. Stir in the tomato and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and their liquid, turn the head down to medium, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it has thickened slightly. Stir in the fresh ginger, taste and add salt if necessary, then serve.

Eggplant and Cashew Barley

Last night I came to the slightly painful realization that my photos have gotten incredibly boring. Food + white dish + white background over and over. And over. So today I went to the craft store (where I feel completely out of place because I’m not crafty in the slightest) and picked up some paper and fabric so I can spice up my pictures. My wonderful husband also moved the light box from the garage/basement up to a room at the front of the house that gets great light at dinner time, so I’m hoping this will improve my photo quality at least a little. I’m just going to let the picture above be one of the last of my “white phase.”

This dinner is incredibly flavorful, with an unusual combination of ingredients that work together surprisingly well: cardamom, cinnamon, mustard seeds, eggplant, roasted red pepper, cashews, and a little lemon. It sounds like a really weird mix, but trust me, it’s comforting and just exotic enough to get you out of the rut using the same flavors over and over (which you might not do, but I kind of end up relying on garlic, soy sauce and little else a lot of the time). Although the recipe calls for rice (and I have no doubt rice is great in it), I’m keeping my pearl barley kick going.

Recipe:
(adapted from Fresh Indian by Sunil Vijayakar)

1 1/3 cups pearl barley, soaked in warm water for 30-40 minutes, then drained
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 whole dried red chiles (like Chiles de Arbol)
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
1 medium eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp turmeric
2 1/2 cups water
salt
1/2 lemon
1 red bell pepper, roasted and thinly sliced
1/2 cup cashew pieces
chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high. Add the shallots, mustard seeds, chiles, cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaf and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the eggplant and turmeric, mix to combine, then add the water. Stir in a few pinches of salt, then turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the water has absorbed and the barley is tender (if it’s not soft, add a little water and continue cooking).

Turn off the heat and let stand for about 5 minutes, then sprinkle with lemon juice, pepper, cashews, and cilantro.

Spinach Dhal

It’s definitely the time of year when people are looking for healthy recipes! I figured it was the perfect time to peruse my Fresh Indian cookbook, because unlike Indian food from restaurants, these dishes aren’t completely loaded down with ghee. (I have nothing against ghee, but my skinny jeans fit better when I’m not stuffing myself with it.)

If you think you don’t like lentils or spinach, this recipe just might change your mind. The flavors are classically Indian – coriander, mustard seed, and cumin – and the texture is rich and creamy. I served it with pita just because I had some, but obviously naan would be more authentic. I’m still tweaking my naan recipe, though, so I don’t have one to share with you just yet.

Recipe
(adapted from Fresh Indian by Sunil Vijayakar)

2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
5 cups water
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 medium bunch spinach, washed well and roughly chopped (leaves only)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 fresh jalapeno, thinly sliced (for garnish)

Put the lentils, water, turmeric, and ginger in a dutch oven or large pot. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam that collects on the surface. Turn the heat down so the mixture is simmering, and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water in 1/4 cup increments if it begins to look dry. If they are particularly soupy, turn the heat up slighly so some of the water evaporates.

Add the spinach, cilantro, and a few pinches of salt, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium high for about 30 seconds. Add the garlic, cumin, mustard seeds, ground cumin, and ground coriander. Stir fry for about 2 minutes, then pour into the lentils and stir well.

Serve immediately, with slices of fresh jalapeno (if desired)

Curried millet with browned onions

indianmillet
When we lived in California, my husband and I were OBSESSED with Indian food. Seriously, I have to type it in all caps because it was not just some fleeting fondness. Our pantry was stocked with all the essentials: multiple kinds of dal, asafoetida, amchur, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, atta and chapati flours, and whatever else I could get my hands on at the Indian grocery store.

We were constantly on the lookout for Indian restaurants, and that didn’t stop once we got to Thailand. We quickly found our favorite vegetarian South Indian place, which happened to be just around the corner from our apartment. I was in heaven with such easy access to perfect iddli, sambar, and dosa.

And then the honeymoon was over. I realized I was tired of Indian food. Fortunately, since we were in Thailand, there were plenty of other options. Then when we moved on to Seoul, good Indian food became harder to come by, which was fine with me.

But the other day, when I was looking for ways to use millet (my new favorite whole grain – if you haven’t tried it yet, you should!), this recipe popped up and I realized I kind of missed those Indian flavors I used to be obsessed with. So I made this, and it was divine. The browned onions give it a subtle sweetness, and the cumin and curry provide that warm, exotic flavor that drew me into the world of Indian cuisine in the first place.

The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t need any exotic ingredients to make it. Although I highly recommend getting your hands on some Madhur Jaffrey books and visiting an Indian grocery store, this would be a good way to ease yourself into Indian cooking.

Recipe:
(adapted from Food and Wine)

1 cup millet
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 serrano chile, finely chopped (plus a few thin slices for garnish) – leave this out if you don’t want any spice or increase it if you love spicy food
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 tsp curry powder

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the cumin seeds and onion. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally until the onions are evenly browned (about 20 minutes).

Add the garlic and cook for about 2 more minutes.

Stir in the millet, salt, serrano and water, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the millet is tender.

Remove the cover and stir in the yogurt, curry powder. Cook until thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, then serve garnished with a few slices of serrano.



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