Tag Archives: curry

Poor Man’s Saag Aloo (or, “Just Beet it”)

In my pantry today:

  • 3 c beet greens
  • 1 large baking potato
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp kala jeera
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 c water
  • 2 tbsp ground brown flax
  • 4 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Drink enough coffee and you too can be inspired to experiment with aplumb! Well, with beet greens… we don’t get actual plums from our CSA. I’ve never cooked with beets before, and had never even until recently been informed of the edible health contained in their greens. I bravely sallied forth having never cooked any type of greens before.

As with most good meals, start the marriage of oil and butter (vegetable ghee can be substituted for a vegan option) in a pan heating to ML. Once melted put in thinly sliced onion and garlic, mustard seeds and kala jeera. Let them simmer together for about 10m while you prepare your greens:

Thoroughly wash and dry the greens, then pick off bite size pieces from each leaf with a stout disregard for the stems. Set aside and turn your warm pan to M. Mix your water with flax, curry, cardamom, turmeric, asafoetida and cinnamon; once the mustard seeds begin popping stir in fistfuls of leaves until everything is coated and add the water mix. Bring to a boil on M then cover and let boil while you attend to the next step:

Peel your bigass potato and slice in 1/2″ rounds. Halve those rounds. Uncover the pan and add the undrained can of tomatoes; stir. Add the potatoes, ensuring everything is covered by liquid. Bring back to a boil then cover and let cook until the potatoes make you swoon with their delectable tenderness. This ended up being much more delicious than I’d even hoped and would have earned a glad 5 spoons if I didn’t feel like my work perfecting greens has only begun. So, because I need to keep my head in the game this can only earn 4 spoons.

Moong Dal Curry (or, “So-diumb”)

In my pantry today:

  • 3 c cooked moong dal
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion
  • 1 14.5 oz can Italian petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Shan® dal curry mix
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1.5 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida

A seemingly healthy meal has hidden intentions this time around. At 1990mg of sodium per serving (I know, right!?) I could not in good conscience just “go with” that Shan® spice packet. The package comes with about 1/2 c powdered spice blend… I drew a compromise and used 1 tsp. The canned tomatoes are already salty enough. But I digress.

Mince your onion as well as you can — don’t focus on perfection, only on not lopping off a digit. Add to ghee that’s melted in a pot on ML. Let onion cook for 10m or so, then dial up the heat to full M. Add the undrained can of tomatoes, then all of your spices; mix that, then mix in your moong dal with strategically dolloped milk to guide the way. Let everything come to a slow boil on M, then reduce heat to L and simmer for, well, it’s gonna be several hours until dinnertime. Serve over Basmati rice with naan. 4 spoons!

Now back to inordinate amounts of sodium. I know better than to have prepackaged “spice mixes” at hand, but in my defense they fit both a food-stampaneer’s budget and the work output possibilities of MS. I am here, now, as my own living proof of the blatantly unhealthy eating habits for which every grocery around me rails. As someone who staunchly believes that convenience foods are not at all convenient for the human body, I publicly admit shame. Now I have to face the cupboard with the dilemma of wastefulness (ie; financial v. corporeal waste). What will probably come from this will be a shuffling of some things to the back then forgetting they’re in the pantry. It is yet to be determined whether my conscience will let me give this stuff away to friends and family (funny how strangers don’t want to take mysterious powder sacks from those they don’t know). /soapbox

Sausage Curry (or, “No, Fergie’s Not Coming”)

In my pantry today:

  • 1/3 c ground sausage
  • 1/2 c red Russian kale
  • 1 c arugula
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1/2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 c black eyed peas
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red hot chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tbsp hot curry powder

Start your sausage in a pan on ML and slowly increase the heat as it begins to cook; stab it with the spatula until the meat is as crumbly as you like. Drain all grease from the meat and set that crumbled goodness aside. Leave grease to cook your diced onion.

When the onion begins to blush translucence, add the kale and arugula and use it as a dishrag to sop up whatever grease is left. Toss in your tomato for good measure and sprinkle 1 tsp of garlic powder. Once everything is well acquainted, pour the mess into a food processor and puree until only tiny flecks of color remain. When you pause to scrape the sides of the processor add the rest of your seasonings. You will be rewarded with a fine rainbowish mush, so pour it all back into the pan and add the can of tomatoes. Stir in the beans and crumbled sausage, slowly adding the broth (I had vegetable on hand, but please feel free to use the juice of any animal or plant you like here). Let simmer on L for at least an hour, then serve over rice or with penne pasta or… well, you’ve probably got it from here, right? 4 spoons!

 

 

 

 

Palak Sweet Potatoes (or, “Literally Playing an Angle”)

In my pantry today:

  • 2 c cooked white beans
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 15 oz can Princella® Cut Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 c spinach (frozen from fresh)
  • 3 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp vegetable ghee
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp kala jeera
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 3 tsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder
  • 1 tsp Greek seasoning

I have learned how to even more enormously enjoy Indian cooking over the last year or so, and now more often than not will choose rice as my default starch, not pasta. This knowledge does cause a gasp for me, but then I shake my head and continue eating whatever delicious food sits before me atop a pilaf.

This being said, I am untrained in most ways that might let me slide off the Cracker Train a stop or two before Racism City. Please keep in mind that I am fully aware of what a White American I am as you continue forth through my bastardization of a beautiful culture. And start your mustard seeds and onion warming in a cold pot to M.

After a minute or so of crackle-popping, mix the spinach and kala jeera in and once the spinach begins to wilt transfer the entire mess to the food processor with 1/2 c vegetable broth. Open the can of sweet potatoes and rinse them well (they’ll be sweet enough without any extra syrup) before tossing them, too, into the cut-em-up machine. Pulse until you’ve got a chunky paste then transfer back to the pot.

Over ML heat, add half the remainder of your seasonings and liquids. Stir. Add your cooked, drained beans, stir, then add in the remainder of the flavors. Let the sauce simmer on L for at least one hour (mine simmered on L for 5 hours before it was time to be ingested). When I asked my girlfriend how many spoons she’d give this, her answer was “4… maybe even 5.” I shook my head and staunchly thought, “3. The flavors were like a Showbiz Pizza ball-pen of shapes.

And then there was the follow up discussion about maybe letting people know that when I cook, it is by shapes. I figured that this blog had enough angles to it already (Food Stamps! Incurable Brain Disease! Lost 100 lbs! Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!) that throwing in the synaesthesia was a moot point. Synaesthesia… hold up, I’ll copy + paste from Wikipedia:

Recently, difficulties have been recognized in finding an adequate definition of synesthesia…

Crap, well. Here’s the meat of it for me: In terms of cooking, I generally go by the shape of things. I fancy each dish as a Kandinsky (also said to have had the -aesthesia) and the pieces and parts of it have to interact in perfect composition. Dr. Cytowic’s book “The Man Who Tasted Shapes” is an excellent study on this phenomenon, which I delight in as most synaesthetes present with the numbers and letters as colors thing.

Cytowic describes his chance encounter during a dinner party on February 10, 1980 with MW, the “Man Who Tasted Shapes.” Cytowic describes how his host reported that “There aren’t enough points on the chicken!”

Don’t feel bad if this makes absolutely no sense to you. I find that it does not to many people, whereas it it my only frame of reference. Has your sky always been blue? Mine has always been puce. Figuratively, I mean. I certainly suppose this is an important element to my cooking that isn’t well-publicized… but you can’t show that weird mole on your ass to every stranger, y’know? I’d rather be out and proud about my weight and discovering all the positive effects of food on health — there ain’t no food pyramid for spikes and circles and squares (“Oh, my!”).

Of course, I could make one… Hmm…

Whole Bird with Tubers!

In my pantry today:

  • 1 2.65 lb chicken
  • 1 extra large baking potato
  • 1 average sweet potato
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 pearl onions, skinned
  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 1/2 c dill seeds
  • 1/3 c hot curry powder
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

Turns out I ate some spoiled cippoline sott’aceto in Venice about a decade ago that forever ruined pearl onions for me — just go ahead and use regular onions. I’m giving the rest of the uncooked onions to my brother upon this memories’ harkening to one of few moments that were un-outstanding during my summer in Italy. Grossballs.

"Living Room of the Renaissance"

I lived here in 2000. Jealous? (You should be.)

Fortunately, I had been too lazy to peel many and the potatoes and carrots were still just fine. Preheat the oven to 425° and set about to the washing, peeling and prepping of your root vegetables. Lay them in a gently overlapping layer inside a large casserole dish and drizzle 1/4 c olive oil atop. Layer seasonings:

  • 1/8 c dill seeds
  • 1 tbsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Toss until everything’s evenly coated, then cover the pan and stick it in the oven for an hour.

Now it is time to handle the larger part of something’s carcass. Mix the remainder of your seasonings with the remainder of your olive oil until a nice, paste-like uniformity reveals itself. Rinse your chicken inside and out under cold water and cut off that little dangling fat turd that dangles off its butt. Cut finger-sized slits in the skin on the wings, legs, thighs and breasts and first massage in some of the seasonings and olive oil between the meat and skin, then move to all other major outer areas, and end with a cavity massage with 1/4 of the paste.

When the tubers come out, downgrade your oven temperature to 350° and slap in your foil-covered chicken pan. Now, I was under the impression that 20 minutes per lb was the general chicken-roasting rule. Maybe I should’ve checked the internet for a brain-freshening on this, because it’s taken a bit more than that. I’d budget 90 minutes before your first check, and possibly another 30 after that depending on your oven’s maw. Regardless, the deliciousness will repay your patience: 5 spoons!

Tonight’s bonus (since I just flipped through some old pictures) is this classy photo of me in my room at the Università degli Studi di Urbino. Nobody thinks to tell the fattest girl on the plane that a summer anywhere in Europe unofficially requires a physical fitness certification. I remember having waking paralysis in my bed there some nights, but above all else — the heat, the sun, forcing my legs up mountains — the determination to never be the last straggler on walks. It would be another eight years before my diagnosis and I just assumed all of my problems were due to my heft. That’s what all the doctors said, and who doesn’t believe their doctor? So, dogged in my resolve, I traveled the peninsula at about 300lbs with another 200lbs of luggage in my arms (art history courses abroad should be considered suspect to the over-burdened traveler). I like to regard the entire amazing odyssey as a small turning point in just how much shit I was willing to take from my body — nothing was going to steal even a moment of where I got to be. Not even that pubescent gypsy who stole my wallet on the subway in Milan.

The White (Bean) Flag

In my pantry today:

This is how I am largely more comfortable cooking. Yeah, I admit to having a slight Flavor Boost™ problem but it feels so much more clean and respectable to go about things from MostlyScratch™ instead of sallying forth with a billionty gravy packets; that feels like the “Poor Man’s Comedy” version of cooking. And nobody wants a fart joke in the kitchen.

Now there’s a little more oil in this than I’d normally see fit to use, but I really wanted to stretch the giant tomato’s hard-cook time to its limits before adding extra liquid. Start your diced onion and mustard seeds out on MH and let the pan get them to chattin you up, then add the diced tomato. Add your garlic paste and other seasonings as you stir and smash the tomatoes down. After 6m or so of this, sprinkle on and stir in your spinach; continue on MH with a vigilant spatula until things begin to stick. Add almond milk in slowly and fold in your beans with great care. Serve over Basmati rice. 4 spoons and a cleaner conscience!

I hate to admit it, as I enjoy the flavors of animal flesh, but eating it several days in a row is a great reminder to my body how badly it aggravates a lot of my symptoms; that is the opposite of where I want to go. Meat is good in small doses, but I need to remember to treat it as a luxury choice in my diet and not as an edible given. Moo.

Cashew Curry Chicken Soup (or “Meat the Parents”)

In my pantry today:

  • 1 lb chicken tenders, cut in thirds
  • 1 c fresh spinach, diced
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tsp safflower oil
  • 3 tbsp cashew butter
  • 3 tbsp leftover sweet potato bisque
  • 2 packets chicken gravy mix
  • 4 cans vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp yellow curry powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

So my mom reads my blog (hi mom!), and when I happened to see my parents this past weekend I was met with the usual amount of love and, also, an entire cooler of meat. “If I see one more post with ONLY beans…” says mom. So consider this the dawning of the age of Aquarius — if by “dawning of the age of Aquarius” I mean “MEATSPLOSION!” Granted, we all know I am no pure vegetarian… and I don’t see a complete eradication of animal products from my diet happening. I mean, just cutting out dairy is still a very tenuous journey: I am Italian and that would mean giving up Parmasean cheese. That will never happen — it is good on everything.

But back to the cooler full of meat. In addition to our apocalypse supply of dried beans, I now have all this to work with:

  • 1 package boneless pork chops
  • 1 package stir fry beef
  • 1 package beef stew beef
  • 1 family size package of cube steak
  • 1 family size package of chicken tenders
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 NY Strip steaks

This warranted a full hard cleaning out of the freezer because all of this would need to be portioned, packaged and frozen. Can anyone chime in with an agreement here if you’ve ever met my Mom and Dad? Because I need to profess their awesomeness and my subsequent gratitude in this harsh world for such a lucky break, and I need confirmation on this from outside sources so that when Mom inevitably reads this she knows this isn’t just meat-related lip service. They have done so very right by all of their offspring, and then they occasionally top it all off with things like a cooler full of meat Dad purchased from his post-retirement job at the grocery store.

I admit to being a little overwhelmed by the amount of animal I put in the freezer yesterday, but as kismet had it I was making dinner for non-vegetarian friends so I got to cut out most of one of the animals present. I saved one meal of chicken tenders for the house, then had ample left to feed five people.

In a large stockpot on M, start your onion and mustard seeds out in safflower oil. When the seeds begin popping, turn the heat to MH and add your hunks ‘o chicken and garlic paste. Toss everything to coat then let the chicken spend a little time staying still. Flip after a minute or four. Cook until the outsides are showing brown faces then remove everything in the stock pot to a large bowl and set aside.

Return the pot to the burner and reduce heat back to ML. Put in the cashew butter, slowly stirring in a can of broth until it’s become a proper gravy. Then to this proper gravy, add the two packets of chicken gravy you’ve whisked with cold water and the bisque. Turn the heat back up to MH and bring to a low boil as you add the other seasonings and continuously stir. Once everything tastes peaceful, stir in the chicken, onions and minced fresh spinach. Bring everything back to a very low boil then reduce heat to L, cover, and walk away until the chicken is done slow-cooking in the goodness.

This is a recipe that received so much praise I can’t help but consider it more than deserving of 5 spoons: a rating most certainly clinched by a new acquaintance’s conclusion, “Going down it felt like… it… hugged all of my organs.”

/fistpump


Beanie-ahini (Now With Entire Tree Limbs!)

In my pantry today:

  • 2 c cooked white beans
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper
  • 1 leaf of kale, minced
  • 1/2 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 packets Swanson® Flavor Boost™ (Vegetable)
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 spring dried rosemary, ripped mercilessly from its home in a public median
  • 1 c uncooked Basmati rice

I felt like dicing things up into tiny slivers today, and I made it so to the best of my ability. Put your meticulously slivered garlic in your giant pan with the olive oil and turn the cold burner to M. As it warms, dice and add onion and stir. Let that cook for about five minutes (or until sizzling sounds begin to happen) while you dice your pepper. Add and toss everything with turmeric until bright yellow seeps across the stainless steel surface. Add 1 tbsp water when/if pan begins to dry out to buy time while you pick up that bundle of kale you just brought home and regard it thoughtfully. End up choosing only a single stalk and dicing the leaves — it has been decided that this dish is more about the tahini than the kale, and it must be approached carefully so as not to allow kale the spotlight.

So just sprinkle in that minced leaf as visual interest, stir. Fold in the white beans with your other seasonings as well as the trademarked Flavor Boost™ before adding in tahini a tbsp at a time. Thin out the sauce with a little unsweetened almond milk and, upon satisfactory meld, top with spring of dried rosemary and cover. Let cook on L for a couple hours for best results, then serve over Basmati rice. 4 spoons!

Sweet-N-Savory Soup

In my pantry today:

  • 2 c leftover cooked matpe beans
  • 1 c broccoli slaw
  • 1 leek
  • 1 c unsweetened flax milk
  • 1.5 c chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 vegetable bullion cube
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Slice your leek and saute it on M in 1tbsp olive oil. After a few minutes, decide you should add that second tbsp of oil. Mix it around and add the slaw mix. Add your garlic paste and vegetable bullion and mix it around some more (until the cube is decimated). Throw in your liquids and spices. Bring to a boil the reduce immediately to the lowest heat setting. Let it slow cook until the broccoli in the slaw is soft. Serve with some garlic naan and laugh at the cold rain what has been done forecast.

 

———-ADDENDUM———-

Instead of naan, we split an unopened small container of white rice from the Chinese takeout we got night before last. Between the two bowls, it was a perfect amount of rice added to a soup that looks and tastes better for it.

*ALSO — Don’t forget to add a dash of fart powder to this. If I don’t list asafoetida in an ingredient list that otherwise smacks of potential flatulence, please take it upon yourself to know how not to be a gassy windbag.