Category Archives: Indian Food

Indian Spiced Lamb & Lentil Stew

My love of Indian food and my love of soup have finally found each other.

My daughter came home from school yesterday and immediately moaned in delight because our house smelled so wonderful.  And who could blame her?  I was doing the same thing myself.

I came across this gem of a recipe in Cooking Light and almost skipped over it because it just didn’t look very exciting.  But the flavor (and the amazing aroma) was outstanding.  The original recipe calls for only 6 oz. of lamb but the package I bought was a pound so I just decided to double the recipe and have leftovers.  An excellent decision!  Other than the lamb everything else on the list was stuff I normally have in my cupboard or fridge, so I’m sure this will land in my pile of go-to recipes I use when there is “nothing” to cook.  I’m already looking forward to making it again.

Indian-Spiced Lamb & Lentil Stew

Indian-Spiced Lamb & Lentil Stew

Indian Spiced Lamb & Lentil Stew
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 pound ground lamb
2 tsp. red curry powder (I used Madras curry powder since I had it)
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry brown lentils
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 can coconut milk
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
Plain Greek yogurt for garnish
Cilantro for garnish

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in your soup pot and add lamb, stirring to break up.  Add curry powder, cumin, salt & cayenne pepper.  Cook for a few minutes.  Add onions, carrots and jalapeno.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes until lamb is browned.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add tomato paste, stir well and cook another minute.  Add lentils and stir well, then add broth, water, coconut milk and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes, until lentils are tender.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed (I added a bit more salt).  Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.  Serves 6-8.

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Chicken Korma

I don’t have any tattoos.  I’ve thought about it, but then I think about how often I change my mind about things I like.  Food, TV shows, decor, people… you get the picture.  We all have at least one piece of furniture/art/outfit that we absolutely adored when we just had to buy it and now we look at it and think “what the heck was I thinking?”  So I’ve abstained from having anything permanently inked upon my flesh.  But the other day at Saturday market, I happened upon a booth where a nice lady was doing henna tattoos.  Oooh…artsy and cool, but temporary!  I’ve always wanted to play with henna, so I got some to take home and proceeded to “tattoo” all over myself and my daughter.

Fun with henna. Not bad for my first effort!

While looking at cool henna designs for inspiration, I came across a couple of web sites with Indian-inspired designs and fun stuff.  And that made me want Indian food.  So we made Chicken Korma for dinner to complement our newly decorated body parts.  If you are new to Indian food, this is a terrific “intro to Indian” recipe.  The flavors are very mild and delicious, and not too out of the ordinary.  The spices used are flavorful but not hot and the sauce is to die for.  There are no ingredients that can’t be found at most grocery stores.  And it’s super simple to make.  Pair it with some rice and fresh veggies and you’re all set.

Chicken Korma. Looks pretty and tastes even better.

Chicken Korma

2-3 tbsp. olive or canola oil
1 onion, chopped
4 chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, minced
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 cup heavy cream

Rice for serving

Saute onion and chicken in oil over medium heat until onion is soft and chicken is no longer pink.  Add garlic and ginger and cook another 1-2 minutes.  Add salt, turmeric, and cumin.  Cook 1 minute.  Add water.  Turn down heat slightly and stir in garam masala and cream.  Cook 5 minutes or so until chicken is cooked through and sauce is slightly thickened.  Serve over rice with fresh steamed veggies on the side.  Serves 4.

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Chicken Curry with Onion and Tomato

Every once in awhile you get a craving for a specific restaurant dish and wish you could make it at home.  I get a hankering like that for Indian food all the time.

Last night I made some Chicken Curry that tasted like I had ordered it and had it brought to my table, fresh from the hard-working hands of a team of real life Indian folks in the back kitchen.  And complete with a bill of $12.95 (each!) at the end of dinner.  Except mine costs less than that for the whole darn batch and I got to eat it  in my living room.

One of the great things about this particular curry is that, although it tastes very authentic, it doesn’t require any terribly unusual ingredients.  If you haven’t cooked Indian food before you may have to pick up one or two spices, but they can be found at the grocery store in most cases. And once you have them on hand, you have no excuse not to make Indian food any ole time you’re in the mood for it.

For all you veggie-haters out there (you know who you are), you’ll love this one because all of the veggies (except the mushrooms, which you can leave out) are pureed smooth, creating this yummy sauce.  You won’t even know they’re there.

Chicken Curry with Onion and Tomato

Chicken Curry with Onion and Tomato
(adapted from Indian Home Cooking, by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness)

4 chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
3/4 tsp. turmeric
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt
1 large onion, roughly diced
5 garlic cloves
A 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into a few pieces
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 cinnamon stick (about a 2 inch piece)
12 green cardamom pods (find in the Asian section of the grocery store)
9 whole cloves
9 black peppercorns
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon
Rice

To cook the rice, bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Add the rice you want (I use 1-2 cups for a batch) and boil for 8 minutes.  Drain the water, put a lid on it and set aside until you are ready to eat.  It will be perfect, with the grains separate, every time!

Combine the chicken, 1/2 tsp. of turmeric, 1/2 tsp. of cayenne and a pinch of salt in a bowl.  Stir to coat the chicken and set aside while you make the sauce.

In a food processor or blender, finely mince the onion, garlic and ginger.  Set aside.

Combine 2 tbsp. oil, the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon unfurls, 1-2 minutes.  Add the minced onion mixture and 1 tsp. salt.  Cook, stirring, until onion starts to brown around the edges, about 10 minutes.

Remove and discard cinnamon and stir in the remaining 1/4 tsp. turmeric and 1/4 tsp. cayenne.  Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 tbsp. oil in the same pan over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.  Add the yogurt, 1 tbsp. at a time and stir well after each addition.  Cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes.  Add the mushrooms and stir to combine.

Add the pureed tomato mixture and bring to a boil.  Stir in the water.  Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is cooked through, 20-30 minutes.  Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Then uncover and cook a few minutes more to reduce and thicken the sauce.  Stir in cilantro and lemon juice.  Taste for salt and serve hot over rice.  Serves 4.

 

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Project Veggie: Day 20 – Corn Curry

I have a very scientific way of deciding what to make for dinner.  I look and see what I’ve got on hand and I give the kids two or three choices and let them pick.  I do generally plan my menu for the week, make a shopping list and buy most of the stuff to make those things, so there are usually at least a couple of options to choose from at any given time.  Since I haven’t had time to go to the store this week, we were down to the options that use mostly pantry items.  Last night I told the kids we had ingredients to make spaghetti or corn curry, something we hadn’t tried yet.  I left them to mull it over, went to do a few things and then walked into the kitchen.  Sitting on the counter were a package of frozen corn and a box of frozen samosas (impulse buy when we were out the other day).  I couldn’t help but laugh.  Luke had spoken, without ever saying a word.

I’m not sure why this is called a curry.  My cookbook said it’s inspired by Gujarati-style curries in Bombay.  There is no curry paste or powder in it.  However, when I did some research on curry not long ago (because I was curious about where curry leaves came from), I found that curry is just a combination of different spices.  Depending on the type it could be 5 spices, or it could be 20.  Curry leaves are not in curry powder or paste.  They come from a curry tree and can be used in recipes, although I have yet to find them in a store.  (Note to self: look for curry leaves at the Asian market).  Curry trees also have berries, but they are poisonous.  My point is, this recipe was delicious, but didn’t taste like any curry I’ve had in the past. It was quite spicy, in a really good way, with a wonderful creamy base.  What sounded at first like a somewhat simple – maybe even boring – recipe actually turned out to be nicely complex in flavor and texture, with a lovely sauce that soaked into the rice beneath.  We loved it.  Because it’s the middle of winter, we used frozen sweet corn, but I can’t wait to try this one again in the summer, with freshly picked corn from the farmer’s market.

I don’t normally use a lot of packaged foods, but we had a box of veggie samosas (vegetable filled pastry things) in our freezer, and they were a perfect accompaniment for this dish, along with rice. Some day I will have to make my own samosas, but that is a project for another day.

Corn curry and samosas.

Corn Curry (Makayee Noo Curry)
(from Indian Home Cooking, by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness)

Green Paste Ingredients:

1 fresh hot green chile, stemmed & cut in half
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks (or you could use ginger paste, which I usually keep in my fridge for ginger emergencies)
12 fresh or 16 frozen curry leaves (optional – I didn’t use these)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. water

Other Ingredients:

1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. black mustard seeds (optional – I used these)
3 whole dried red chiles
1/4 tsp. turmeric
6 fresh or 10 frozen curry leaves (optional – I didn’t use these)
1/8 tsp. asafetida (optional – I used this)
1 tbsp. flour
3/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 6 ears) or frozen corn

This lovely sauce soaks right into the rice. Yum.

For the green paste, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process to a paste.  Set aside.  Combine the milk and half & half in a bowl or measuring cup.  In a large sauce pan, combine the oil, cumin and mustard seeds over medium high heat.  Cover if using mustard seeds, they tend to pop around.  Cook until the cumin turns golden brown and you hear the mustard seeds crackle, 1-2 minutes.  Add the chiles, turmeric and curry leaves and asafetida and stir.  Immediately add the green paste and turn the heat down to low.  Cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 more minute, scraping the bottom of the pan to keep the flour from sticking.  Gradually add the milk mixture, a little at a time, to make a smooth paste.  Stir in the salt and the corn, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the corn is tender, about 4 minutes.  Serve hot over rice.

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Project Veggie: Day 14 – Stuffed Peppers With A Kick

Anybody who knows me knows that potatoes are one of my very favorite things.  I would eat them in a boat, I would eat them with a goat.  In a box, with a fox, on a plane or a train.  You get the picture.  Cooked any way, anywhere.  I love them.  When I was pregnant, there was about a month where I single-handedly went through a 10 pound bag every week.  I’m not kidding.  So it’s no surprise that my children are also crazy about potatoes, which is just good news for me.

Bell peppers have been great this year, sweet, juicy and – at least at my grocery store – on sale a lot.  This is great, because in my house, it’s one of our favorite things, both for cooking with and snacking on.  Did you know a red bell pepper has more vitamin C than an orange?

Combine these two favorite foods with some hot chile pepper, Indian spices and some lemony zing and you have one of my favorite potato recipes ever.  It’s also one of the prettiest dishes too.  Although this is from my Indian Home Cooking cookbook, it’s not like anything I’ve ever had in an Indian restaurant, and really doesn’t taste like Indian food to me.  But it uses some of the spices and wherever it hails from, it’s just plain delicious.  If you don’t like spicy food, eliminate the chile pepper, it does add quite a bit of heat.

Stuffed Peppers with a Kick

Stuffed Peppers with a Kick
(from Indian Home Cooking, by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness) 

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes
4 bell peppers – orange, yellow or red
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 fresh serrano chile, minced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 egg whisked with a pinch of salt & cayenne pepper

Peel and cut potatoes into cubes.  Cover with cold water and boil until very tender – about 20 minutes.  Drain.  Meanwhile, cut around the stems of the peppers, removing the tops and scraping out the ribs and seeds.  Set aside.  Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry skillet over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, just 1-2 minutes.  Coarsely grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl.  Mash them.  Add the ground spices, cayenne, green chile, cilantro, mint, lemon juice, salt & pepper.  Stir to blend.  Taste and add salt if needed.  Spoon mixture into peppers.

Preheat oven to 400˚. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan on the stove.  Dip the tops of the peppers in the beaten egg and place top down in the oil.  Cook until the egg has browned and formed a crust, about 2-3 minutes.  Then turn the peppers right side up.  If your frying pan is ovenproof, you can use the same pan, or transfer to a casserole dish and bake in the oven until peppers are tender, about 25-30 minutes.

Serve with fruit & veggies, or salad.  Incidentally, they are also a great side dish for meat but they are quite filling as a main dish as well.

Potato Stuffed Peppers with veggies & fruit

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Project Veggie: Day 3, Indian Food!

I lived in Springfield, Missouri for a number of years.  This may come as a great shock to some of you, but Springfield is not much of a culinary mecca, though the occasional gem of a place does come and go.  When I first moved there, two Indian restaurants fought for dominance.  One was, in my opinion, the very clear winner.  The food was incredible and I was addicted.  Unfortunately, after much too short a period of time, the owner decided to close the restaurant and open a chain of gas stations instead (such a waste, ugh!).  This left me with my adequate, but underwhelming second choice.  My solution:  I set out to teach myself to cook Indian cuisine.  Armed with the internet and one terrific cookbook – Indian Home Cooking, by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness, I set out to satisfy my cravings in this particular area, and I’m happy to say I’ve had great results!  I have yet to make a recipe I didn’t like out of this book.

Over half the households in India are vegetarian, due to religious, cultural or economic reasons.  Good news for me in my quest here, since it meant I had plenty to choose from.  I decided to make Mushroom Mattar, with rice and grape raita.  Mushroom Mattar is flavorful, but not spicy, with a creamy rich sauce.  Raita is kind of a yogurt salad, which comes in many versions.  It’s particularly nice with spicy food, cooling the palette a bit, but I like it with pretty much any Indian food. I use it more like a condiment – on top of my entree, to dip naan or poppadum and I love it as a salad dressing.  Claire eats it with a spoon.

We were lucky enough to have friends sharing dinner with us, and many yummy noises ensued.  Always a good sign.

Mushroom Mattar

Mushroom Mattar (I’m not positive, but I think this just means “with peas”)

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp butter
1-2 red onions, chopped
1/2 c. tomato puree
1 tsp. garlic paste (you can use minced garlic if you don’t want to buy this)
1 tsp. ginger paste (minced fresh ginger works too)
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat butter in pan.  Add garlic & ginger.  Cook 1-2 minutes.  Add onion & mushrooms.  Cook until onion is golden brown.  Add tomato puree and cook 4-5 minutes.  Add spices & stir well.  Stir in cream & keep stirring til mixture thickens slightly.  Add peas and cook until heated through.

When I go to an Indian restaurant I love how the rice is all separate and falls apart instead of sticking together.  If you like it this way, it’s easy to do.  Just fill a pot with water like you’re making pasta.  Bring to a boil and add your rice (I used 2 cups).  Give it a stir so it doesn’t stick together.  Boil for 8 minutes.  Drain off the water.  Leave the rice in the pot, cover with a lid and let it sit until the rest of the food is ready.  It comes out perfect every time.

Grape Raita

Grape Raita

3 cups plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups seedless grapes, halved
2 tsp. ground toasted cumin (I use cumin seeds, toast them for a minute or two in a pan and grind them with a mortar & pestle)
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or paprika

3 tbsp. canola or olive oil
2 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
6 curry leaves (optional – I didn’t use them)
Salt to taste

Whisk the yogurt in a bowl until it’s smooth.  Add grapes, cumin, sugar and cayenne.  In a small pan, heat oil with mustard seeds & fennel seeds over medium high heat (watch out, the seeds tend to pop).  Cook 1-2 minutes.  Add curry leaves if using.  Pour over the yogurt mixture and chill.  Add salt & stir just before serving.

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