Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What I'm Making for Dinner - 3.12.08

Curry Trifecta

I was going to make a lasagna, but need to stay late at work. So instead I'm making a trio of quick and easy Indian curries. Now, I don't make any claims as to the authenticity of these dishes, as they are wholly invented. But they are made with ingredients purchased at an Indian grocer, so it is plausible that people of South Asian descent are, in fact, eating them right now.

Before we start, I should mention some of these ingredients. They include pre-packaged curry mixes. These are commonly used in India and require none of the effort of buying, crushing and mixing individual spices. You can find them at any Indian store. Amchur powder is made from unripe mangoes, and adds a nice tang without the acidic qualities of lemon juice or vinegar. If you can't find it, lemon juice is fine. The ginger referred to here comes crushed in a jar and has a distinctly Indian flavor. The red lentils are small and orange when raw- they turn yellow as they absorb liquid and basically become a paste, making for a thick, satisfying soup. I like to garnish my Indian food with chutneys, including coriander, coconut and mango chutney, available at Indian supermarkets or large grocery stores. I'm also fond of achar (mango pickle) and lemon pickle, both very strong condiments, and delicious if you can handle the kick.
You can add coconut milk or plain yogurt to any of these recipes for a creamier variation.

Channa Masala- basically translates as "chick peas in spices".
2 tbsp. oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp. crushed ginger
1 can of chick peas, drained
1 tbsp. Channa curry powder
1 tsp. amchur powder
1 cup chicken stock

Sautee the onion in oil until golden brown, then add ginger.
Add chick peas, sprinkle with curry powder and add in
the stock. Season with amchur powder to taste. Cook on
low heat until all ingredients are incorporated.

Eggplant Curry -'Jalafrezi' and 'Garam Masala' curry
powders and pastes work well here. Always feel free to
add more if you want a stronger flavor.
2 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. garlic
1 eggplant, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 med. can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
1-2 tbsp. curry powder/paste
salt & pepper
lemon juice
fresh cilantro

Sautee the garlic in oil and add in the onion, cooking until
golden brown. Add in the eggplant and sautee until browned.
Add in tomatoes, tomato sauce and curry mix. Stir, turn heat
to low, and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30
minutes. Season with salt, pepper, lemon juice and sugar to
taste. Toss in fresh cilantro before serving.

Traffic Light Lentil Soup - I totally invented this, but I like it.
And it's red, green and yellow, like a traffic light! See? Ha ha? Ok,
fine, I'm corny...
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. ginger
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 cup red lentils
curry powder- your choice
5 cups chicken stock
amchur powder
salt & pepper

Sautee garlic in oil until lightly browned. Add in ginger
and red pepper and sautee for 2 minutes on medium
heat. Add in lentils, curry powder, and chicken stock.
Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer, stirring
occasionally, until lentils are cooked- odds are they will
mostly dissolve as they cook. Add in green peas and
cook just until done- stop before they begin to lose their
color. Season to taste with salt, pepper and amchur
powder or lemon juice.

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