Tag Archives: vegetarian recipes

Baby Steps into Indian Cooking

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Let me be the first to admit:  I know nothing about Indian cooking.  Not one damn thing.  And the term “Indian food” is pretty meaningless if you consider, according to Wikipedia, there are over 30 regional styles of cuisine in India.  What someone cooks in Northern India is going to be completely different from what someone cooks in Southern India.  So, as I peruse recipes, I feel completely lost–geographically and gastronomically. For your information, here is a list of the regional cuisines.

 

 

  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Arunachal Pradesh
  • Assam
  • Bihar
  • Chhattisgarh
  • Daman and Diu
  • Goa
  • Gujarat
  • Haryana
  • Himachal Pradesh
  • Jammu & Kashmir
  • Jharkhand
  • Karnataka
  • Kerala
  • Lakshadweep
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Maharashtra
  • Manipur
  • Meghalaya
  • Mizoram
  • Nagaland
  • Orissa
  • Puducherry
  • Punjab
  • Rajasthan
  • Sikkim
  • Sindh
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Tibetan
  • Tripura
  • Uttar Pradesh
  • Uttarakhand
  • West Bengal

(Daunting, yes?)

According to Wikipedia:

“India is a diverse country with many regional cultures, each region has its own food specialties, primarily at regional level, but also at provincial level. The differences can come from a local culture and geographical location whether a region is close to the sea, desert or the mountains, and economics. Indian cuisine is also seasonal with priority placed on the use of fresh produce.”

The first and only time I ate real Indian food was at a friend’s wedding.  Since then, I have timidly tried my hand at a couple recipes.  Most have been disastrous.  I made a recipe a few months ago, with garam masala, and even though I thought it was terrible, Jeff said he liked it and ate every last bite.  I think my mistakes so far have been not really knowing what I’m aiming for, or what a dish is supposed to taste like before I make it.

Knowing my shortcomings and being completely intimidated by the scope of Indian cuisine, I went ahead last night and made some Indian food.  I got the recipes from Smitten Kitchen.  I made a yellow dal, a shredded cabbage salad, and black-eyed peas in a spicy goan curry.  The recipes were a little involved–but once I got the process down of cooking the pulses separately from the spices and vegetables, which need to be caramelized in their own pan, it got easier.  So, the worst part is that these recipes were a several pot and pan operation. That being said, it was worth the mess and dishes to clean afterwards.  Well worth it.

Cabbage salad

With last nights’ successes under my belt, I plan to make a couple more dishes today.  These Indian spiced potatoes look amazing.  And I will also make a red lentil recipe from Madhur Jaffrey.  The recipe is below.

Red Split Lentils With Cabbage (Masoor dal aur band gobi)

Madhur Jaffrey, Indian Cooking

From Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4 to 6

200 grams (1 1/4 cups) red split lentils (masoor dal), picked over, washed and drained
1.2 liters (5 cups) water
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into fine slices
225 grams (1/2 pound) cored and finely shredded cabbage
1 to 2 fresh, hot green chilies, finely sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 medium tomato, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon peeled, finely grated fresh ginger

Put the lentils and water into a heavy pot and bring to a boil. Remove any scum that collects at the top. Add the turmeric and stir to mix. Cover, leaving the lid very slightly ajar, turn heat down to low, and simmer gently for 1 1/4 hours. Stir a few times during the last 30 minutes.

When the lentils cook, heat the oil in a 20 to 23 centimeter (8 to 9 inch) frying pan over medium heat. When hot, put in the cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for 3 to 4 seconds. Now put in the garlic. As soon as the garlic pieces begin to brown, put in the onion, cabbage and green chilies. Stir and fry the cabbage mixture for about 10 minutes or until it begins to brown and turn slightly crisp. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Turn off the heat under the frying pan.

When the lentils have cooked for 1 1/4 hours, add the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, the tomato and ginger to the pot. Stir to mix. Cover and cook another 10 minutes. Add the cabbage mixture and any remaining oil in the frying pan. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer.

Simmer uncovered for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cabbage is heated through.

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Sunday Menu Planning

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I am feeling completely uninspired on the cooking front these past couple days.  I think this whole week has been uninspired.  I spent my whole vacation waiting for my vacation to happen–and now, here I am: Saturday afternoon.  I need to do chores, cook for the week, and do some lesson planning before school starts on Monday.  Break is, effectively, over.

The recipes I’ve decided to make this week come from, easily, one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen. This trio of Indian recipes looks really good.  The first recipe is a sour cabbage salad that highlights lemon juice and whole mustard seeds.  I’ve never bought or used mustard in its seed form, but it was cheap at my local supermarket, so I definitely won’t shy from it if it comes up again in recipes.  The next is a simple, yellow daal–and if you recall, I need to use up my grains and legumes, so this recipe looks perfect for that purpose.  Finally, I’ll make a black-eyed pea curry.  I’m looking forward to moving towards a more vegetarian diet again, and I think these three recipes will be a good transition back into meat free meals.

I also plan to make this bean salad, which is used as a sandwich filling.  I think I’ll use a different type of beans instead of garbanzo beans, though, in this recipe.  Garbanzo beans tend to taste like wet dog to me.

P.S. I bought some kimchi from a local Asian foods market in Eugene.  I think they make it on-site. I’ve never had it before.  I’m pretty excited.

Sunday Afternoon Lunch: Roasted Asparagus, Sweet Onion, and Zucchini in a Lemon Vinaigrette

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  • Two zucchinis
  • half of an onion
  • 1 pound of asparagus
  • Juice of half of a lemon
  • Some olive oil
  • S & P
  • A squirt or two of dijon mustard

Method:

Roast vegetables at 450 until they are sufficiently roasted.

Make the vinaigrette (lemon juice, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt and pepper).

Dress the vegetables.

Eat.

Pesto and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

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Last weekend, I made this mushroom ragout (with crimini and oyster mushrooms).  I intended to make the polenta, but I didn’t get around to it.  Instead, I made a double batch of the sauce and tossed half of it with penne.  So, this weekend, I have a batch of ragout that I either need to freeze or use.

With this in mind, I picked up some large pasta shells at the MoC, along with some cottage cheese (I sometimes like to use cottage cheese or a combination of ricotta and cottage cheese in stuffed pasta).  I had some leftover ricotta from last weekend’s  stuffed tomatoes recipe, too.  Oh, and the rest of the pesto from that particular recipe.

This dish comes together so easily: mix your cheese (ricotta, cottage, what have you),  an egg, pesto, and some Parmesan cheese (or some Italian blend).   Salt and pepper to taste. Minced garlic if you like.

Cook and drain your shells.  Don’t cook the shells all the way–you will be baking them after all, and if they are cooked completely in the boiling water, they will turn to mush in the oven.

Stuff your shells.  Top with the mushroom ragout and more Parmesan cheese.  Layer in some sautéed spinach if you feel so inclined (Remember the spinach I was going to use in my curry?  Here is where it ended up.).

Bake, in the oven, at 400 degrees until your spider senses tell you to take it out.  You should cover it for part of the cooking, and in the last several minutes (or so–nothing is exact when I cook), take the aluminum foil off and let the cheese brown and crisp.

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Curry

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The dish I am making today is a combination of two recipes I found this morning.  The first one is from The CopyCat Cook.  The combination of creamy sweet potatoes and red lentils sounds like a good pair.

This curry seems to be (and I’m definitely not a curry expert) an Indian-inspired curry (cumin, turmeric, and lentils) and I’m in the mood for Thai, so I found this recipe, which calls for Thai curry paste, cilantro, and fish sauce:  Sweet Potato Thai Curry.

The final dish will use green curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, spinach, lentils, ginger, garlic, onion, cilantro, and of course,  sweet potato.

(Vegetarians should omit the fish sauce!)

Finals Notes:

I decided to partially cook the sweet potatoes and lentils in their own pots prior to adding all the ingredients together in the curry.  I wanted to make sure that all the ingredients were cooked through at the same time, spent the right amount of time in the curry sauce, and cooking those ingredients separately seemed the best way to do it.  It was a bit more work, but I felt I had more control over the final dish this way.  No crunchy lentils or potatoes for me!

As I added the potatoes and lentils to the curry sauce, I also added some veggie stock to thin out the coconut milk.  Green curry also tends to taste soapy to me (am I the only one?) and the veggie stock mellows out the curry paste.

I ended up leaving out the fish sauce and the spinach and adding a healthy dose of lime juice at the very end of cooking.

This is, by far, the best curry recipe I’ve ever made.  I highly recommend it!

Interesting Food Links, News, and Recipes: Thanksgiving Edition

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Quiche for Thanksgiving? Not so sure about that.

I’d definitely rather have quiche for Thanksgiving than this monstrosity.

Does anyone buy anything but Stovetop, anyway?

Wow.  Just, wow.

Turnip puree with fried onions? Um.

Pumpkin tacos, anyone?

Sunday Menu Planning Session

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Morning

BY BILLY COLLINS

Why do we bother with the rest of the day,
the swale of the afternoon,
the sudden dip into evening,
then night with his notorious perfumes,
his many-pointed stars?
This is the best—
throwing off the light covers,
feet on the cold floor,
and buzzing around the house on espresso—
maybe a splash of water on the face,
a palmful of vitamins—
but mostly buzzing around the house on espresso,
dictionary and atlas open on the rug,
the typewriter waiting for the key of the head,
a cello on the radio,
and, if necessary, the windows—
trees fifty, a hundred years old
out there,
heavy clouds on the way
and the lawn steaming like a horse
in the early morning.
______________________________________________________________________

 

My husband and I are ending this Saturday in the same way we usually start them: in our bed, with coffee, in our underwear, with our laptops, books, and cat.  He’s (the husband, not the cat) reading From Max Weber:  Essays in Sociology. It’s homework, and he’s not enjoying it.  I’m reading Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain.  I’ve decided in the past few days that I want to be a food writer when I grow up.  I’m 24 now, and I’m not quite sure when “growing up” happens.  I have a full time, professional job.

Did I miss the boat?

Anyway, the husband and I are ending the day as we usually start it, which makes me quite disoriented.  Our normal routines have been thrown off as we’ve had a guest for a couple days.  But we love our Saturday morning rituals, so here we are, starting our weekend.

I asked the husband what he wanted to cook this weekend and he said he wants to make a Thai curry.  I’m tired and I have a stomachache right now, so I didn’t enthusiastically receive that request.  But I didn’t dismiss it outright.  I found an interesting recipe, Thai-style coconut butternut squash, which looks really good.  I’m not necessarily keen on making this tomorrow, but squash does sound good.

I roasted two acorn squash a couple nights ago with brown sugar and chili powder.  I really didn’t have a plan or a menu to incorporate them into–I just wanted to eat a bowl of squash.  So, I did.

Here’s another recipe, from that same website (Closet Cooking):  Roasted Butternut Squash with Carmelized Onions, Gorgonzola, and Crispy Fried Sage. That recipe is just asking to be made into lasagna.  Hmm.  Or soup.

(Tentative) Menu Plan:

1.  Thai Curry of Some Sort

2.  Squash Dish of Some Sort

Sorry for the lack of enthusiasm in this post.  I tried to keep my stomachache-mood from coming through. I don’t think this coffee I am drinking is helping much.