Friday, July 26, 2013

Dumplings and beyond

I revisited the realm of the pierogi-wonton. Here I went for a more straightforwardly Asian (insert seven apologetic footnotes here) filling: garlic, scallions, mushrooms, tofu, greens, tamari, sesame oil, cinnamon, and cayenne. And, having learned my lesson, I pan-fried all of them. Leave that steaming to the pros! Pan-frying makes them beautifully crispy and chewy, and (most important) cohesive.

Pan-Fried Wontons with Mushrooms, Tofu, and Greens


I had a fair amount of filling left, and so I made it into a stroganoff. How, you ask? Well, I basically inserted the sauteed filling into this recipe for mushroom gravy: I added broth and flour and cooked until I had a thick, creamy mixture that I could toss with pasta. This was also delicious.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Gailan with Sambar Powder

Recently I've been thinking about oil. Most recipes call for sauteeing in some kind of neutral oil; use canola, corn, soybean, whatever; it doesn't make much of a difference. Even sauteeing with olive oil isn't too different; cooking it dispels the flavor and ushers in the smoke.

But that cauliflower using sesame oil? Sounded crazy, but it was phenomenal.

And here, mustard oil! I've always wondered about this one, but only tried it recently when I was house-sitting. Basically, I pulled everything out of the pantry and the fridge that I'd never used before. And the resultant dish, using gailan ('chinese broccoli'), was fantastic.

Sauteed Greens with Tofu, Ginger, and Sambar Powder

mustard oil 
cumin seeds
nigella seeds
1/2 red onion, chopped
pinch salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-in knob ginger, minced
1/2 serrano chili, minced 
2 tsp madras sambar powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 bunch gailan, coarsely chopped 
1 block baked tofu, cubed
coconut vinegar
sesame seeds

1. Heat mustard oil over high heat. Add cumin and nigella seeds and cook until spluttering.
2. Add red onion and cook, stirring. Add pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium.
3. Add garlic, ginger, chili, and sambar powder, and cook a few minutes.
4. Add turmeric and chopped greens and cook, stirring, until greens soften.
5. Add water and a splash of tamari and cook until greens are tender.
6. Turn heat to low. Stir in cubed tofu. Season with a splash of coconut vinegar, and sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving. Serves 2.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cauliflower Puree with Coconut Milk and Mustard Seed

I had a fair amount of cauliflower left over from making that Gobi Manchurian, so I did what any reasonable person would do: something totally different. Inspired by Jamie's Thanksgiving Cauli/Pots, I sought to make a mashed cauliflower that would fit with an Indian culinary palate but still resemble (rather bland) comfort food. This cauliflower dish hit the mark precisely. It's mellow, but has enough zing from mustard seed and cayenne to represent itself quite well.

Cauliflower Puree with Coconut Milk and Mustard Seed (shown with mushroom 'mutton' curry)

1 TB canola oil
1 tsp mustard seed
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch salt
1/2 head cauliflower, in small florets
1/2 c coconut milk + 1/4 c veg stock (improvise as needed)
pinch cayenne

1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add mustard seeds and cook, stirring until spluttering.
2. Add onion and cook 5+ minutes, until soft and fragrant. Add garlic and pinch of salt and cook a few more minutes.
3. Add cauliflower, coconut milk, stock, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, cooking until cauliflower is quite soft.
4. Allow to cool. Puree cauliflower, adding more liquid as needed. Add salt to taste and bring back to hot temperature before serving. Serves about 3.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Red Lentil and Apricot Dal

This recipe from Janet was quite lovely. Apricot lends a nice sweetness and tartness to your typical red lentil dal. I reconstituted this dried apricot paste, so my dal was more on the sweet side than the tart side; I would love to try this with fresh apricots.

Red Lentil and Apricot Dal
(from taste space)

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp finely chopped, peeled ginger
1 tbsp mild curry powder
1/2 cup tomato, cored, chopped (I used 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes)
1/3 cup dried apricots, diced
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
4 cups water
1/3 cup coconut milk
Salt + ground black pepper to taste
Chopped cilantro, to garnish

1. In large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Once hot, add onions and saute for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add the garlic and ginger, stirring to cook, for 2 minutes.
2. Add the curry powder; cook 1 minute. Add tomato, apricots, lentils and water and bring soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer and cook until the lentils are soft, approximately 30 minutes.
3. Stir in coconut milk. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to your desired consistency (I left mine partially pureed).
4. Taste and season with salt and pepper. To serve, sprinkle with cilantro. Serves 4.


And for some sides:

Spicy greens with ginger 

Green chutney (mint, cilantro) with coconut

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dhabay ki Daal (w fenugreek leaves)

This really unusual dal was mindblowingly good. Having recently acquired a huge amount of fenugreek leaves, I was searching holy cow! for recipes that use them. On the page, this recipe seemed pretty simple-- no detailed spice blends or pastes-- and I wondered if it might be (the 'u' word!) underwhelming. But, I reasoned, it would be a good way to get an uncomplicated sense of what fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) can do. And I was very wrong! This dish is simple, but the fenugreek and the 'butter' give this dish amazing rich and aromatic qualities.

I wasn't exactly sure about chana dal and urad dal, so I just went for variety and creaminess: I used a 1/2 cup each of yellow split peas and red lentils. My photos don't look too different from Vaishali's, and the result was awesome, so I'm happy with the substitution. I also used a can of red kidney beans instead of starting with 1/2 c dried. Aside from these legume adjustments, I followed the recipe to the letter, and it was delicious. We don't tend to think of beans as elegant food, but (as I said above) a few flavoring ingredients can make for a really lovely dish-- the mushiness of the legume can be humble, but it can also be luxurious!

I made a bunch of sides to go with this dish: a rice pilaf with mustard, cumin, and fenugreek seeds; spicy collards with garlic, chili, and coconut, and a cucumber salad similar to this one but with lime juice.

Dhabay ki Daal

(from holy cow!)

1/2 cup chana dal (I used yellow split peas)
1/2 cup udad dal (I used red lentils)
1/2 cup rajma or red kidney beans (I used 1 can of red kidney beans)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp ginger, grated or ground into a paste
6 cloves of garlic, grated or ground into a paste
1 onion, minced
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne powder
pinch salt
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1/4 cup kasoori methi
1 tbsp vegan butter, like Earth Balance

1. Cook the legumes in water until soft. If using canned kidney beans, wait until the other legumes are cooked before adding them.
2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
3. Add the ginger and garlic, saute for a minute on a medium-low flame, and then add the onions. Saute the onions until brown spots appear, about 8-10 minutes.
4. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne powders and salt to taste. Add the tomatoes and saute until they are cooked down, about five minutes.
5. Now add the cooked lentils and stir well to mix. Add some water if the dal is too thick. Cover with a lid and cook about 8-10 minutes for all the flavors to meld together.
6. Crush the kasoori methi with your fingers and sprinkle over the dal. Mix in the butter and stir until it's melted into the dal. Serve hot. Serves 4-6.


A few asides. Why a vegetable peeler is useful:

And, the gayest jalapeno I've ever seen:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gobi Manchurian

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect of this recipe from triumph of the lentil (which btw is probably the best food blog name... ever?). Although it seemed inevitable that there would be cross-cultural interactions between Chinese and Indian people, I'd never heard of Indo-Chinese food as a genre until I started researching what this recipe was riffing on. And I have to say--more superlatives!--Indo-Chinese food sounds like one of the best culinary combos I can think of.

This cauliflower dish, based on a similar dish for chicken, resembles our authentically inauthentic orange chicken. It's lightly breaded and fried and then tossed in a slightly sweet (but still savory) sauce. I would definitely use sesame oil for the sauce rather than canola--it gives the dish a wonderful flavor--but of course when frying the cauliflower itself, use a neutral oil like canola.

I am the queen of eating leftovers and, since I don't have a microwave, often eating cold leftovers. But this is one thing that really does need to be eaten immediately or the battered coating gets soggy from the sauce.

I had leftover batter and cauliflower, and I did fun things with each. Scroll down to see a savory pancake I made from the batter.

Cauliflower, breaded with chickpea flour and fried (honestly you could also just eat it like this!)

Gobi Manchurian

For the battered cauliflower:
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour (besan)
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
2 teaspoons tamari
1 teaspoon finely chopped red chili
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 small-medium cauliflower (definitely go for small--I had a lot of leftover cauliflower)
olive oil, for frying
For the sauce:
optional 2-4 teaspoons sesame seeds
2-3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil or olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
1-3 teaspoons finely chopped chili
1/2 cup tomato purée 
2-3 tablespoons tamari
2 teaspoons sugar
salt, to taste
2 teaspoons tapioca flour or corn starch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water

1. Combine the chickpea flour with 3/4 cup lukewarm water and the lemon juice and leave it to sit in a large bowl, covered, at room temperature overnight (it should be a thick batter). (I only did this for about 45 minutes, and it worked fine).
2. Mix through the garlic, ginger, tamari, chili and salt.
3. Gently divide the cauliflower into florets.  Chop the larger ones in half if you wish.  Thoroughly coat these in the batter.
4. Put around 1cm (1/2″) olive oil in a large pan.  Heat over medium-high heat.  To test the heat, add a piece of the coated cauliflower, the oil should fizz up around the cauliflower right away.  Fry the cauliflower in batches until golden-brown, flipping the pieces over halfway through frying (a few minutes on each side).  Drain the fritters.
5. When all the cauliflower has finished cooking, heat the toasted sesame oil in a large saucepan over a heat between medium-high and high.  When the oil is hot, stir through the onion for two minutes, then stir through the ginger and garlic for one minute.  Stir through the chili for thirty seconds, then add the tomato purée, tamari and coconut sugar.  Stir through until bubbling then taste, and adjust the seasonings with salt and chili (it should be fairly hot, but still edible and tasty).  Keep stirring for another minute or two, to allow the sauce to reduce, then quickly stir through the tapioca flour and water mixture.  Quickly add the fried cauliflower and stir to coat.  Serve right away, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Serves 2-3.


And I also cooked up the leftover batter as a pancake! Chickpea flour is amazing.