I loving cooking Indian food during the winter. The potatoes and onions and cabbages that winter over so well need some exciting spices else they get a bit repetative by the end of March. On this menu: chana masala (a variation of a recipe I frequently make), cabbage with turmeric and ginger, potato cakes and coconut rice. It was lots of fun. Which proves that I’m getting more comfortable with Indian techniques. Yay!
Aside from comfort with large quantities of spices, the techniques involved in Indian cooking have always been the hardest for me to master – heating the spices in oil for just the right amount of time, not burning myself with splattering oil, cooking the basmati rice down to the right amount of water before covering it. All of these simply take practice. Don’t be afraid, if nothing else, the smell of spices in your kitchen will make it worth while.
The chana is a variation on one I’ve been making for a while, though actually more simple!
Chana Masala – 4 – 6 servings
- 1 small-med onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ inches fresh ginger
- 1-2 serrano/thai chiles
- 1 tbs. oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. coriander, ground
- ½ tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. amchur (scant tsp.) (or 2 Tbs lime juice)
- 1 tsp. garam masaala
- 3 tbs. cilantro (divided)
- 1 med potato (yukon gold)
- 1 can garbanzo beans/chick peas (or 1/12 c. cooked beans)
- 16 oz. can diced tomato (or 2 med-small)
- 1 c. water
- 2 tsp. tamarind concentrate
- 1 ½ tsp. cumin, roasted and ground
- Dice onion, garlic, ginger and chiles (in food processor until small), reserve. Chop potatoes (and tomatoes if not using canned) into 1/2 inch cubes, reserve. Mix salt (if using salted tomatoes, use only 1/2 tsp. salt), garam masala, coriander and amchar, reserve. Toast cumin, grind and set aside. Juice lime if not using amchar.
- Heat oil over med-high heat in a high sided sauce pan. Add onion mixture and stirfry until golden brown. Add salt/spices, fry for 30 seconds, then add chick peas, potatoes, tomatoes, 1 tbs. cilantro and tamarind desolved in water.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to med-low, and let boil for 10-12 min, covered, stirring occasionally.
- When potatoes are tender to a fork, remove lid and simmer for 8-10 minutes until sauce thickens slightly.
- Add ground cumin and 2 tbs. lime juice if using instead of amchar.
Note: Amchur is ground dried green mango, usually sold at specialty Indian stores.
The cabbage dish came almost directly from Léon Brocard at Astray Recipes (ignore the ads at the top).
Cabbage with Turmeric and Ginger – 4 servings
- 1 Tbs. Butter
- 1 Tbs. Vegetable oil
- 1 med Onion; sliced
- 1 inch fresh root ginger
- ½ small head green cabbage (~4 c. chopped)
- ¾ tsp. Ground turmeric
- ½-¾ tsp. Salt
- ½ tsp Paprika
- 1 ½ Tbs. Lemon juice
- 1 tsp Garam masala
- Chop cabbage and reserve; slice onion thinly, reserve; julien ginger, reserve. Mix turmeric, paprika and salt and reserve w/ cabbage.
- Heat a large wok or large frying pan over high heat until hot, add the butter, oil and then onion and stir fry for 1 minute, stirring all the time. Add the ginger and continue cooking for a further 1 minute.
- Add the cabbage with the turmeric, salt and paprika and stir fry for 3 minutes, stirring all the time.
- Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice and the garam masala and serve immediately with yogurt if wished.
Many of the ingredients are not regional or seasonal, but in the winter, I tend to stray for the sake of flavor and to end the monotony.