Monday, February 11, 2008

Cold Day, Spicy Food

Kalamazoo isn't that small. Granted, much of the population is seasonal due to two universities and a couple of colleges in the area, but you'd still think we'd have at least a couple restaurants that stretch the definition of "exotic" further than a Chinese buffet.

Finally, in the midst of this sub-zero February fark, I think we may have finally reached the tipping point where someone has decided that we can support an Indian grocery!

mmm....lentils....with chilies....

Just when I was really starting to get into a cooking funk from boredom, a whole new sub-continent is opened up to me. Finally, I don't have to base my recipes on what's available in the one single "international" aisle at Meijer's. Although, to be fair, they have been a reliable source for whole vanilla bean.

Now if we could just swing a nearby Trader Joe's, it would be like spring all over again :-)

BigMovesBabe left a great Paneer recipe on Shapely Prose today...anybody else have a favorite Indian recipe to share?


Kira said...

Mmmmm, you just included two of my favorite things in one post - Trader Joe's and Indian food! I'm a Northwesterner transplanted to the South, and boy do I miss Trader Joe's! Sure, we have Whole Paycheck (err, Foods), but you can't get my favorite Spicy Soy & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips there (really, they're much better than that sounds).

When I was in Portland a few years back, I took a series of Indian cooking classes from a great mother/daughter team from northern India. We learned dozens (hundreds?) of good recipes and techniques, and ate lots of yummy food to boot. It's hard to pick a favorite, but this is one I commonly make - especially now that I'm in a region where you can regularly find fresh okra in the produce section.

Bindi Masala (Bindi Bhajee)

Okra 1 lb frozen (thawed), sliced (~3.75 cup), or equivalent fresh
Tomatoes 2-3 medium fresh, or 1 can diced
Onions 2 yellow, chopped or sliced
Mustard Seeds 2 teaspoons
Cinnamon 1” piece
Cloves 2
Cardamom 2 pods
Ginger Paste 1+ tsp
Garlic Paste 1+ tsp
Coriander powder 1.5 tsp
Cumin powder 1.5 tsp
Cayenne 1 tsp
Turmeric ~1/2 tsp
Salt ~1/2 tsp
Garam masala 1/4-1/2 tsp.
Lemon Juice 1-2 tablespoons
Cilantro handful of sprigs, chopped
Vegetable Oil ~3 Tbsp. (I used peanut oil)

Heat oil and add mustard seeds. Fry them until they pop, ~1 minute.

Add onions, fry until translucent and starting to brown (not caramelized).

Add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, stir, then add ginger and garlic paste and fry for ~30 seconds.

If using fresh tomatoes, add tomatoes and all dry spices, cook for 1 minute, then add okra and lemon juice. If using canned tomatoes, add tomatoes spices, okra, and lemon juice all at once.

Lower heat and let cook until okra is getting soft, about 10 minutes.

Mix in chopped cilantro, let cook for a few more minutes until cilantro wilts slightly and flavors blend. Enjoy!

La di Da said...

Lentil and chickpea curry! I love it, it's so easy to make.

Ingredients, enough for about 4-6 meals:

High quality/gourmet curry paste or your own spice mix. The readymade is great for when you're in a hurry or tired etc.
Ghee or vegetable oil
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 medium brown onion, chopped or pureed
2 x 440g/16oz cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 x 440g/16oz cans brown lentils
2 x 440g/16oz cans finely-chopped tomato
(get low- or no-salt canned goods if you can)
cardamom pods
bay leaves

In a big pot or wok, heat up some ghee or vegetable oil. Throw in 2-4 tablespoons of readymade curry paste, or your own spice mix. Korma or tikka marsala work well. Fry it for a little bit to release the aromatics. Turn the heat down, add minced garlic and brown onion, and let them soften while stirring now and then.

Drain the chickpeas and brown lentils into a sieve or colander and rinse. Turn up the heat a bit, and add the chickpeas and lentils to the pan, and stir so they're coated with the spice. Dump in the canned tomatoes, and add two cans' worth of hot water.

Stir it around and let it cookfor a minute, then taste the sauce. Add whatever spices you think it needs. Usually more chili in my case. :) Add 3-6 cardamom pods and 2-3 bay leaves, then simmer on low heat with the lid off until the curry is the consistency you like. About 10 minutes usually does it.

Serve with basmati rice or naan or roti.

This is so delicious I make it all the time. It reheats from frozen really well too, so it's good for lunch at work.

OK now I have to go post recipes all over my own blog. :)