Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pasta Primavera

We are working on eating less meat these days (India really got us out of the habit) so I try to make a meatless dish about three times a week. Here is one of the ones that I like to just put together (hence the lack of amounts, just kind of use what works for your group). This is also really quick and simple.

Pasta - usually something chunky like rotini or penne, I've been into whole wheat of late
Chopped Broccoli
Chopped Cauliflower
Sliced Carrots
Alfredo Sauce - I usually use a jar sauce but have made a simple Parmesan cheese sauce before

When the pasta is cooking and has about five minutes left, I add the vegetables. When I think about it, I add the broccoli later because it doesn't need as much cook time as the cauliflower and carrots. Then they are already mixed together and I just have to add the sauce. If you decide not to heat up the sauce before mixing it into the pasta, then you will probably need to keep it on the stove for a bit to heat up the sauce.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Indian Food Extravaganza

On New Year's Eve, I coordinated an Indian food feast for my family in town at the time. This included: 10 adults and 16 children including 2 teenagers. Naturally I was intimidated by this many people and planned a lot of food. Also naturally there was no way I could have done this all on my own. I had a lot of helpers and I was almost more like the supervisor. So, along with rice, here is what we made:

Palak Paneer 
1/3 cup ghee (clarified butter- we used oil so Brennan, who is allergic to dairy, could eat it)
1 bulb garlic - I think we used one bulb but had doubled the recipe
1/2 tsp toasted cumin seed
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
fresh ginger - I have no idea how much we used. It says a 3 in piece
1 tsp garam masala - a spice you should be able to find in a regular grocery store
1 tsp salt
1 onion, chopped
1 cup water or as needed
fresh spinach - when I made this for just me, I would use 1 1/2 - 2 bags
1 lb paneer or queso fresco - a non-melting cheese, you can make it if you are feeling really ambitious

Melt ghee in large saucepan and saute the garlic, cumin seed and onion. Add the tomato paste, ginger, garam masala, salt and water. Stir until tomato paste dissolves then simmer for 1 hour, adding water if necessary. 

Stir in spinach, a little at a time, and cook until spinach is wilted. Mix in the paneer just before serving. You can garnish it with cilantro but I always seem to forget that part. 

Lamb Madras Curry
This one is pretty spicy. The recipe calls for a make your own curry paste. I wasn't able to find the ingredients for the paste so I used a powdered blend of madras spices. Some day I want to actually make the paste. For now, to the best of my recollection, this is what I did.

1 1/2 tsp tumeric
2 1/4 lb lamb meat cut into 1/2 inch cubes
few T Madras Spice Blend - we bought it at the Asian food market but it was also at the regular grocery store but more expensive
1/4 cup oil
4 onions diced (or just a bunch)
1 can coconut milk
2 cups water, divided
1 tsp fennel seeds
10 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sugar
3 T warm water

Sprinkle tumeric over the lamb. Toast the fennel seeds and set aside. In a dutch over, over medium, saute the onions in the oil. Add the meat and spice mix and fry for a minute. Stir in 2/3 of the can of coconut milk and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. 

Stir in the rest of the coconut milk and 1 cup water along with the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and fennel seeds. Cover with the lid ajar and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally and thin if needed.

When the lamb is tender, stir in the garam masala and sugar. Cook 5 minutes longer or until the sauce thickens. Remove the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods before serving. 

Butter Chicken
diced onion
swirl of oil
2 T butter
2 tsp lemon juice
1 T ginger garlic paste - I just use chopped ginger and chopped garlic in equal amounts
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taset
pinch salt
pinch pepper

1 lb chicken thighs cut into cubes
1 tsp garam masala
pinch cayenne pepper

Heat oil and saute onion. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger garlic paste, garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add tomato puree and cook 2 minutes while stirring. Stir in half-and-half and yogurt and simmer 10 minutes on low, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Heat oil in large skillet and cook chicken until lightly browned. Reduce heat and season with garam masala and cayenne pepper. Stir cooked chicken into sauce. (Emily, did we add the cornstarch to this one? I didn't think so but wasn't too sure.)

Aloo Matar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
chopped onion
1 T ginger garlic paste
1 bay leaf
4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted (or the amount that gives you the proportions you like)
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 T cilantro

Cook the potatoes. Heat oil and saute onion (are you sensing a theme?), ginger garlic paste and bay leaf. Mix in potatoes and peas. Add tomato puree, garam masala, paprika, sugar and salt. Continue cooking until it's all mixed through. Add cilantro before serving. 

swirl oil

Stir together flour, salt and oil. Add the amount of water that makes it the consistency of bread dough. Kneed it on a floured surface a few times. Take a small handfull of dough and roll it out onto a floured surface. In a dry pan heated over medium heat, cook until it begins to bubble up (if the heat is too low, it won't bubble up and if it's too hot, it will burn in places). Flip. It should bubble more. If the first side needs more browning, flip again. 

To eat, tear it into pieces and pick up the food with it. This can be messy but really is better. For amounts, Jason and I will eat between 2 and 3 roti per meal depending on how big they are. 

This all probably sounds very intimidating. For a regular dinner, I will often make two meals: a meat and a vegetable. Also to remember, while Indian food has a lot of ingredients, the process isn't usually too bad. I do recommend chopping everything before you start cooking. I have overcooked a number of spices because I was still working on chopping something.