Tag Archives: indian

Chana Masala

23 Jan

chana masala

Despite the lengthy ingredient list, this North Indian chickpea stew comes together quickly and easily. It’s more of a tart curry, rather than some of the creamy ones with lots of warming spices (cinnamon, cloves, etc). Here, acidic tomatoes, tart amchoor powder, and citric lemon juice are strong components, alongside a hefty quantity of spices, of course. But it still manages to feel balanced, especially when served over rice (or quinoa, as I served it). I added cauliflower florets to my version (I think that actually makes this gobi chana masala), which I think are great alongside the creamy chickpeas. A sprinkle of cilantro at the end proved surprisingly crucial in rounding out the flavors (I wouldn’t omit it), and a little yogurt on top helps to quench the heat of hot peppers and ground cayenne pepper. I also topped mine with pickled red onions and thought their crispness was a great complementary texture. This curry, by the way, only improves with a couple of days in the refrigerator, so don’t hesitate to make this large batch even if you’re only cooking for one or two.

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Spiced Cauliflower

10 Oct

spiced cauliflower

I think my priorities might be a little skewed. When I was packing for Buenos Aires, I made an effort to get my possessions down to a bare minimum, to pack only what I really needed. But I decided that, along with a basic wardrobe, laptop computer, and camera, what I really needed to bring along was as many spices as possible. I’d heard that some were hard to find, and I didn’t want to deal with the start-up cost of buying new spices (plus they’re light!). Some people made fun of me for the decision, but when I picked up a head of cauliflower and saw this recipe, I knew I’d made the right decision. For many of the main ingredients, it was just a matter of reaching into my already well-stocked cabinet, and the resulting dish is spicy and immensely flavorful, reminiscent of (though I’m sure not authentic) Indian food. And not only did it taste great hot out of the pan, it was equally tasty eaten cold the next day.

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Mulligatawny Soup

30 Jul

mulligatawny soup

A while back, I posted a recipe for a Japanese adaptation of Indian curry. But by far the most well-known adaptations of Indian cuisine come from the British. These fusions have become so widespread that it’s not unlikely that you’re already quite familiar with some of them – such as chicken tikka masala and vindaloo – from your favorite Indian restaurants (and in fact, they are now prevalent in India itself). Mulligatawny soup is a great example, the name itself a British take on an Indian phrase meaning “pepper water.” There are many variations, but they’re usually a rich yellow or orange color from the spices (if you’re using a curry powder without turmeric, make sure to add some) and often contain meat. This particular version, however, is vegetarian, with red lentils and carrots providing the bulk of the soup, and coconut milk (very popular in Anglo-Indian cuisine) stirred in for extra richness.

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Garam Masala Cookies

18 May

garam masala cookies

When it comes to desserts, I much prefer the unusual to the ordinary. I’ve never been one for vanilla ice cream or chocolate chip cookies; they’re tasty, sure, but way too boring for me. Give me something complex and exciting! These garam masala cookies are definitely in line with my dessert philosophy. Yes, they’re sweet, as cookies are meant to be, but they’re also nutty from brown butter and spicy from garam masala. At first, these fragrant cookies are reminiscent of spice cookies, with the familiar flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. But then there are those less familiar notes from the other components of the garam masala. While unusual, these cookies are still thoroughly enjoyable even for less adventurous eaters and were scarfed right up when I baked them for a party. So, whether you always prefer unique desserts or usually opt for more vanilla options, these cookies are worth throwing together the next time you have a chance.

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Red Lentil Dal

4 May

red lentil dal

Back when I still ate meat regularly, my dad insisted on taking me to a highly recommended South Indian restaurant with an entirely vegetarian menu. I was skeptical that these dishes could live up to my favorite North Indian chicken and lamb dishes, but soon all thoughts of meat had left my mind as I eagerly dove into a veritable feast of curries, chutneys, raitas, masala dosa, and a mango lassi to top it all off. And the dals! These mysteriously delicious lentils, so different from what I was used to. Cooked until falling apart and heavily fragrant with spices. Here is my take on a red lentil dal (or masoor dal), in homage to one of my first realizations that vegetarian food could be just as tasty as its meaty counterpart. Red lentils cook quickly and fall apart beautifully, resulting in a stew that tastes like you’ve been simmering it all day. Fresh spices will make a big difference here (homemade garam masala is ideal) since there’s not much else in this simple dish. A little bit of honey stirred in at the end alongside cilantro is probably not authentic, but the hint of sweetness works very well.

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Garam Masala

30 Apr

garam masala

I know I post a lot of spice mix recipes, but they’re really an easy way to get the most flavorful food out of your kitchen. The same basic spices (which will stay good for years when stored whole) can be recombined into many distinct mixes. Garam masala is one of my favorites. A staple of North Indian cuisine, the recipes can vary widely from one household to the next, but always involve some “warming” spices (such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper). So this is a great mix to adjust exactly to your liking, whether its changing the proportions, omitting some ingredients, or adding others (allspice, star anise, or a couple bay leaves would all fit nicely here); I like mine a little heavy on the cumin and chili peppers. The resulting mix can elevate a simple stew, help to recreate authentic North Indian dishes, or even be added to cookies or hot chocolate for an unusual twist.

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Roasted Curried Cauliflower

23 Apr

roasted curried cauliflower

I’ve been trying to fit a lot into my life. All things I feel quite passionate about (this blog included), but sometimes it really makes me crave simplicity. Something that doesn’t require complicated techniques or rare ingredients or constant attention. So here’s what I threw together when I had a head of cauliflower that needed to be used. Nothing too crazy, just four ingredients and a hot oven. And the result, the aroma of curry as the edges of the cauliflower caramelize in the oven, soon ready as a versatile side.

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Vegetable Korma

24 Feb

vegetable korma

Although Indian food is one of my favorites, I’ve often faltered when it comes to recreating my favorite curries. So after a friend of mine cooked up a very tasty vegetable korma, I knew I had to grab the recipe and make it my own. The use of cashew butter as a thickener adds some extra decadence (and protein) here, and I used my homemade Madras curry powder to make sure the flavors were fresh and strong. Ever since I’ve discovered the magic of roasting cauliflowers and carrots, especially when adding them to stews, I can’t resist so that’s what I’ve chosen here, but this curry would go well with any vegetables you have around (or with chicken or lamb, if you so desire). I served my korma with a quick cucumber mint raita – yogurt mixed with shredded cucumber, mint, and chaat masala – which will help cool the fire if your curry powder is nice and spicy (or if you opt to toss a fresh hot pepper or two in your korma).

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Madras Curry Powder

20 Feb

madras curry powder

The more I cook, the more I love customizing the dishes I make. And one of my favorite ways to customize my food is by making my own spice mixes. Madras curry powder is the perfect example for this. No two versions of this South Indian blend are alike; every brand, every family, every person adjusts the spices to their liking. Making your own curry powder gives you the opportunity to get exactly the combination of flavors you want (not to mention the amazing difference using freshly ground spices makes). My personal blend is heavy on coriander and cumin with warmth from curry leaves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. But everything here can be easily adjusted, so soon you can have your own perfect curry powder. And after you have your own blend, come back to see the two simple recipes I’ll be posting on Wednesday and Friday that really showcase the curry powder’s flavor.

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Palak Chaat

23 Sep

Palak Chaat

I recently had the pleasure of dining at Rasika, a very popular DC Indian restaurant, and trying their famous palak chaat. This dish is an amazing medley of textures and flavors, with crispy spinach playing off a sour-sweet chutney and sweetened yogurt, and I knew almost immediately that I had to try my best to recreate it. I’ve dedicated this week to a series of posts on recreating all the pieces of Rasika’s palak chaat. This post is the third in a series of three. See post 1: Chaat Masala and post 2: Date Tamarind Chutney.

Creating the perfect crispy spinach was the difficult piece of this recipe. Going off of all the information I could glean from my dining experience and some internet research, I first tried frying the spinach with a light coating of gram flour, baking soda, and salt. This was a disaster; the batter kept burning in the oil, and the spinach was either not crispy enough or crumbled apart unpleasantly when eaten. After some experimentation with oven temperature, I found that not only was it much easier to bake the spinach, but it yielded much better results.

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