Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Taste of India

The following three recipes aren’t exactly an Indian menu—but could be with a few additions. Like rice and stir-fried spinach with garlic. Better in terms of learning to cook Indian food and helping your dinner companions like the spiciness of it, you might introduce the chicken or the chickpeas into a dinner that is rounded out with more familiar fare. Like rice and a salad. The carrot dip will be a hit under any circumstances.

Curried Carrot Dip

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into ½ -inch pieces
¼ cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Place the carrots in a pot of salted water and bring it to a boil. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until soft. Drain and let cool.
2. Place the sunflower seeds in a blender or food processor and process into crumbs. Add the carrots and all the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the processor as needed.
3. Taste for salt and adjust the spices and lemon juice. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with crackers, toasted naan (Indian bread) or fresh veggies.

Makes 2 cups
Adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

Chickpeas with Mango Powder
This recipe calls for mango powder which you can find at a purveyor of Indian spices in your area. I go to Vik’s Chaat Corner in Berkeley, located on Channing Way at Fourth Street. But don’t hesitate to use lime juice instead. Vary the amount of heat in the dish by starting with a small amount of cayenne, tasting the sauce (and waiting for the heat to build), and adding more to your taste. This dish benefits from sitting for a while after being made. The flavor sneaks into the chickpeas with every passing minute. Just reheat gently before serving.

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 black, green or white cardamom pods
1-2 cinnamon sticks, 3 inches long
1 cup canned crushed or diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons mango powder or fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground, or 2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
½ teaspoons cayenne pepper [I used about 1/8 teaspoon]
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups cooked chickpeas, canned or cooked from dried beans
1 cup water or chicken stock
4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped red onion

1. Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Sprinkle in the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks and cook until they sizzle and smell aromatic, 10 to 15 seconds.
2. Add the tomatoes, mango powder or lime juice, coriander, ground cumin, salt, cayenne, and turmeric. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the sauce, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Stir in the chickpeas, 1 cup water or stock, and 2 tablespoons cilantro. Cover the pan and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally until the chickpeas absorb the flavors, and the sauce thickens, 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Remove the cinnamon sticks. Sprinkle with the onion and the remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro and serve.

Makes 4 cups
Adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries

Chicken in Saffron-Almond Sauce
This dish is so convenient. Ahead of time you can get the chicken steeping in the cream and saffron, chop up the garlic and ginger, and make the almond paste. When you are ready for dinner, everything is set to go and you can cook it up in 20 to 25 minutes.

1-2 pinches saffron threads
½ cup heavy cream, warmed (in the microwave)
1¼ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch strips
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper [I used much less.]
½ cup blanched almond slivers
¼ cup water or chicken stock
1 teaspoon Garam Masala (see below)
2 tablespoons ghee, vegetable oil, or butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1. In a large bowl, steep the saffron in the warm heavy cream for 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Add the chicken, cilantro, salt, and cayenne. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but no more than 8 hours.
3. In a blender, purée the almonds, water or stock, and Garam Masala until smooth.
4. In a 10-inch skillet, heat the ghee, oil or butter over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden.
5. Stir in the chicken mixture and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until partially cooked.
6. Mix in the almond paste and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.
7. Pour into a warmed serving bowl. Rice or naan (Indian bread) are great for sopping up the delicious sauce.

4 servings
Adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s The Turmeric Trail

Garam Masala
You can find jars of Garam Masala in the spice section of your supermarket or in packets at an Indian spice store. I don’t particularly like the balance of spices in these jars—the one I tried has too much allspice or cloves in it. But if you are really pinched for time, try one out. It won’t ruin your dish, but your own mixture will make it much better.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (removed from the pods)
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
15 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks, 3 inches in length, broken into pieces

1. In a small heavy skillet, roast all the spices over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the spices turn one shade darker, start to crackle, and become fragrant.
2. Transfer the roasted spices to a plate to cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Grind in a spice grinder until the mixture has the texture of finely ground black pepper.
3. Store in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place for up to a month. Be sure to label the jar so you remember the contents.

Makes about ¼ cup
Adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s The Turmeric Trail

1 comment:

sweetpea said...

Looks wonderful. I am a huge fan of Raghavan. You can't go wrong with any of his recipes.