Friday, July 23, 2010

Navratna Korma

I've hesitated mentioning Google Analytics on here--it seems sort of bad manners or something.  I promise that your browsing identity remains safely secret.  But I thought some readers might be interested to learn that since I started keeping stats in January 2010, I've had readers from 45 countries!  Now, most of these countries are like one visit from one reader, but still, even in the past month there have been readers from 21 countries.  The US comes in first, followed by Canada (why are there so many awesome vegan bloggers in Canada, btw?), then the UK and France.

What's maybe even more interesting is that Google Analytics tracks what search terms brought people to the blog.  Mostly it's just random ingredients strung together--some of which obviously led to a recipe I'd blogged about.  In fact, some search phrases show up every single month, like those leading people to Marinated Broccoli Lentil Salad, Oatmeal Coconut Spice Cookies, and Avocado-Pear Salad.  Some searchers, however, must have gone away disappointed: my apologies to those seeking "armenian squash cookies" and "cumin oatmeal."  Then there's also the magic-8-ball type searches: "should i marinate tofu overnight for tofu scramble" and the very distressing "cookies are not for julia."  I'm guessing any reader of this blog--from Chile, to Pakistan, to Bulgaria, to Los Angeles--can probably see that cookies are indeed for julia!

Anyway, gazillions of thanks to those who read this blog!


Warning: if this website speaks to you, don't come anywhere near this recipe.  :)

When I first saw this recipe in The Asian Vegan Kitchen, I got excited for another chance at making awesome creamy things out of raw cashews (this streak began a few weeks ago with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Sauce).  Three tablespoons of cashews for the whole recipe, however, seemed a bit scanty, so I used at least 1/4 c.  But I still would have liked a lot more cashewiness in this dish.  I've been looking at other recipes for navratan korma online, and it looks like traditional recipes use some cream and/or cheese.  So more cashews, please!  Next time I'll use 1/2 c, upping the protein content of this dish as well.

This hearty vegetable dish was time-intensive and delicious.  Overall, the flavors are very bright--the lemon, coriander, cilantro, and tomato win out on the heavier/yangier potatoes and toasted cashews.  Using more cashews would tip this balance somewhat, but I actually really like how a dish that consists mostly of potatoes and cauliflower can seem light and refreshing because of the particular seasonings being used.  Make sure to test the salt again at the end, however, as the vegetables dilute the flavors.

Update 7/27: Purists, avert your eyes, but adding either some miso or some nutritional yeast just before serving did a lot to round out those bright flavors.  The nutritional yeast was especially good, and I'm generally not a huge fan.

(the photo doesn't do justice to this dish)
Assorted Vegetables in Cashew Gravy (Navratna Korma)
(from The Asian Vegan Kitchen)

1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
1 medium carrot, sliced
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 c green beans, in bite-sized pieces
2/3 c green peas
1 TB vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 1-in piece of ginger, minced
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
1 c water
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
 1/2 c raw cashew nuts
2 TB coriander seeds (you may prefer to use less)
2 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 cloves
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 green chili
1 c cilantro leaves
1/4 c mint leaves

1. Boil the vegetables in lightly salted water.  Drain and set aside.
2. For the cashew paste: dry roast the cashews, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, and peppervorns over low heat until fragrant.  Grind in a spice grinder, then transfer to a food processor and blend with chili, cilantro, mint leaves, and water as needed until you have a creamy paste.
3. In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the oil and saute the onion over medium heat until soft and light brown.  Mix in the garlic and ginger and saute for 1 more minute.
4. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, and salt to taste.  Cook covered for 2-3 minutes.  Add the cashew paste and the 1 c water.  Bring to a simmer.
5. Add the sugar and lemon juice, then toss in the boiled vegetables.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 4-5 minutes.  Check salt again.  Serve hot garnished with toasted and ground cashews and still more cilantro!  Serves 6-8.

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