Posts tagged ‘curry’

January 25, 2013

Red Lentil Dahl with Kale

voraciousvander -RL dahl

Even in summertime I crave comfort dishes. I’m talking warm, heavily spiced bowls of things that might make you sweat a little when you eat them. I dunno. I’m aware that no one likes to sweat whilst eating, but I’ll take it over eating chilled soup. Gazpacho? I just…can’t. I’m sorry. (Not sorry.)

You know I’m game for a massive minimal-cooking-required salad, but homegirl needs a cooked meal several times a week, regardless of the weather. It’s something about sitting down at night to eat something that has a story. Something that’s been chopped and sautéed and simmered.

I love experimenting with cuisines that I find a little intimidating, it’s like facing your fears in a totally contained and inconsequential way!

Whatta rush.

Since I’ve been cooking, I’ve found Thai and Indian cuisines to be among my favorites to make at home. Mostly because they involve big vats of stew-like concoctions that can be custom-made to involve heaps of vegetables, tons of flavor and spice, and require being mopped up with rice and/or flatbread. (In general, I enjoy mopping my food up with carbs. It’s satisfying and delicious.)

Plus, a good curry paste can’t really let you down.

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October 15, 2012

Vegetable Indian Curry

This is what a Monday night looks like in our house.

Lots of vegetables tied together with some bold flavors. It’s about treating yourself right.

The weekend is my favorite time for trying new restaurants, eating ice cream for dessert (or lunch) and having a couple of glasses of wine. All of these wonderful things mean that I sometimes don’t get the ideal amount of vegetables from Friday night to Sunday night. (Or if I do, they’re accompanied by their bffs bacon and cheese.)

On Mondays, I aim for a vegetable top-up. I like to center meals around veggies with things like soups, salads and stir fries.

Curries are one my favorite ways to incorporate a lot of plant life into my Monday (or any day) – you get tons of flavor and spice with a combination of a few pantry items. They’re often vegan too, which is just a bonus. (Or useful, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to feed a vegan!)

With the help of jarred curry paste, my Thai curries are usually a success. But my Indian curries are always a little more…interesting.

I’ve tried a bunch of recipes using dry spice combinations and EVERY TIME I freak out within the first 15 minutes, thinking I’ve screwed it all up somehow. It’s almost always fine by the time everything’s cooked properly. What the heck was I so worried about back there?

I finally realized that Indian curries are just late bloomers. They need a little extra time for all of the flavors to develop and come together in the way they’re supposed to. Let them simmer or sit for a while and they’ll come good – with the warming, complex flavors that you were looking for. No need to freak. Leftovers get even better too. Another bonus!

Feel free to add or substitute whatever vegetables you’d like or toss in some chickpeas, tofu or shrimp for a protein boost. Curries are endlessly adaptable and a great way of making your daily (or weekend) dose of veggies full of flavor.

South Indian Vegetable Curry
adapted from Bon Appetit

- 1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
- 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 2-inch-long 1-inch-diameter piece peeled fresh ginger (about 2 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 serrano chile, seeded, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons (packed) golden brown sugar
- 4 curry leaves
- 2 whole green cardamom pods
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 2 medium  russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup diced canned tomatoes, drained
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 large handfuls of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Puree first 8 ingredients (onion through coriander) in processor until paste forms. Cook in large pot over medium heat until aromatic, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste. Cook until mixture starts to darken and brown, stirring often, about 5 minutes longer.
Add broth, brown sugar, curry leaves, and cardamom. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring often and scraping up browned bits. (This part can be made 2 days ahead. Cool, cover, and chill. Bring to simmer before continuing.)
Add coconut cream, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, peas, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to mixture in pot. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Add spinach, if desired, and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Discard curry leaves and cardamom.
Serve with steamed rice.
Tip:
If you’re freezing your leftovers, you may want to slightly under-cook your veggies as things like potatoes sometimes get mushy in the thawing process. Try removing the portion you’re freezing 5 minutes early and allowing it to cool completely before freezing.
October 7, 2011

vindaloo for you

Yesterday was another vegetable-packed day. In addition to a damn excellent salad for lunch (I love salads more than anyone I have encountered in this world. Don’t judge.) I kept dinner time international with a vegetable and beef vindaloo.
In a spice buying frenzy the other day I bought a good looking red vindaloo curry spice mix (Henry Langdon brand). It caught my eye because it was on sale and, let’s be honest here, homegirl cannot refuse a pantry staple deal. (Another example of this was last week’s two-for-one 200gram Cadbury chocolate bar episode. Five is a reasonable about of large chocolate blocks to have on hand in a two person household, right?)
Anywho, I was excited for my first Indian cuisine attempt. Thai curries I am totally comfortable cooking, but Indian I typically leave to the professionals. The spices always seem too layered and complicated and the food cooked for longer than my slowcookerless self has time for, to make it a realistic midweek meal. But these days I’ve got the kitchen, the time, and the spice blend ready made so why not?

The process is simple enough: saute onions and garlic in olive oil then add bite sized cuts of lean beef (or chicken) to brown for a few minutes. Add spices, diced veg of your choice (I used eggplant, carrot, sweet potato and, later in the cooking process, green beans and zucchini) and then add stock. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for about 2 hours.
I cooked mine about 2 and a half hours to achieve a soft, melty texture on the beef. I also went a little spice happy at the start, so I wanted my spices to have time to cook and mingle with all my ingredients properly. I think it paid off. The curry was flavorful and rich with a powerful, lingering heat (just the way I like it). Leftovers were even better today for lunch.
What I liked about this dish is that I could make it my own and go by my gut with measurements. Once I understood the basic rules (obtained from the spice container and a quick Google sesh) I was able to handle this dish with confidence.
Apologies for the ugly vindaloo photo – I was too hungry!

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