Tag Archives: cooking

Curried mung beans

If you’ve ever been to a temple in India, you may remember being offered ‘blessed food’ or prasadam. Prasadam or prasad is often laddu or another sweet but can also be savory. Some temples are so well known for their prasad that I suspect some ‘devotees’ are really after the food. They’ve checked their offline version of Yelp and who can blame them? Those temple cooks can be really good!

One of my favorite foods to receive was curried mung beans. This is also a dish that is often served as a side at homes. While the spices add flavor, the mung beans and shredded coconut provide texture making this a great side dish to eat with rice and Daal.

All you need are a few spices and pantry items. You could also make this with black-eyed peas or chickpeas, both available canned. See notes.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mung beans, soaked in 3 cups of water overnight, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small onion, diced (roughly 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 green chili, diced (optional, de-seeding helps reduce the heat)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 5-10 curry leaves
  • Pinch asafoetida
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Roughly 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons lime juice (fresh is best)

Recipe

  1. Place the soaked mung beans in a pot with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, over low heat for 20 minutes or till the mung beans are cooked and slightly mushy.
  2. In the meantime, prep the remaining ingredients and have all the spices ready to use.
  3. If you are using frozen coconut, thaw to room temperature. If using desiccated coconut, re-hydrate in 1/2 cup warm water for 5 minutes.
  4. Heat the oil in a pan or skillet over medium high heat. The oil is hot enough if you throw in a mustard seed and it sizzles.
  5. Carefully add the mustard seeds to the hot oil and wait a few seconds or till the seeds start spluttering. Add the curry leaves and asafoetida.
  6. After 10 seconds, add the green chili and diced onion. Cook for a few minutes while stirring occasionally till the onion is translucent.
  7. Add the cooked mung beans, cilantro, shredded coconut, salt and lime juice. Mix well and taste. Add more salt / lime juice if you like.
  8. Serve as a salad or with rotis, chapatis, toasted tortillas. My favorite way to eat this is with rice, yogurt and mango pickle.

Notes:

Soaking, rinsing and draining  any dried legumes removes some of the water-soluble carbohydrates that are typically hard to digest. You can  substitute 2 cans of either black-eyed peas or chickpeas (or one each). Rinse and drain before adding in step 7.

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Spices – coriander vs cilantro

Cilantro

Explorers and spice traders in the middle ages can be blamed for creating a lot of confusion through the ages when it comes to the names of spices and herbs. Christopher Columbus, for example, in his quest for a shorter route to India and it’s source for black pepper, ended up in the Americas instead. Here he tried chilis and since they had heat, called them pepper. Ever since, we’ve been stuck calling them peppers or chili peppers.

But when it comes to coriander, I’m not sure who to blame. The herb is called coriander in some countries and cilantro in others including the US. The coriander plant is very useful in flavoring food. Its seeds can be dried and used whole or ground and its leaves are used as an herb in many cuisines. But its roots and stems can also be used. In many countries, India included, all parts of this plant are referred to as coriander. You know to use the herb or seeds based on context. In many Indian recipes the term coriander only refers to the herb and coriander seed is specified as such. When I started testing recipes for Veena’s Market, I know I confused many people by using coriander and cilantro interchangeably. Now I’ve learned to make an effort to say cilantro every time I refer to the herb.

Gernod Katzer who maintains one of the best resource sites on spices posits that people called coriander herb cilantro since culantro, aka cilantro extranjero in Mexico, has a very similar flavor. That makes sense.

Don’t like the taste of cilantro? Think it tastes vile?

Did you know that it is because of a genetic defect? To many people, the flavor of fresh cilantro comes across as soapy. Coriander seed on the other hand, is fine. Personally, I’ve never heard of Indians or Chinese who hate cilantro but have heard of lots of Americans and Europeans. Of course this is very unscientific and anecdotal, but it makes me wonder if Asians don’t have this defect or whether they’ve gotten accustomed to the taste.

Are you someone who hates cilantro? Do you hate it only when it is used fresh? Can you discern the taste when the cilantro is cooked into the dish?

Coriander seeds

Wondering if any of the Veena’s Market kits contain coriander? The following incorporate freshly ground coriander in the spice blend that is provided in the kit:

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Spices – Cassia vs Cinnamon

Ceylon cinnamon

Someone asked me the other day what spices go into my Chickpea Curry blend. As I rattled off the list, I was asked a question that I often get. I add both cassia and true cinnamon to this blend and I almost always have to explain what cassia is. So I thought I’d write about this. If nothing else, it might score you some trivia points some day!

In reality there are many kinds of cinnamon that are roughly broken down into cassia and true cinnamon:

Ceylon cinnamon vs. cassia cinnamon

Cassia

What’s commonly sold as cinnamon in the US is actually cassia cinnamon/chinese cinnamon or just cassia mostly from China, India and Vietnam. It has a more intense and less delicate flavor and is a harder and thicker stick than the real cinnamon. The bark of branches and even the trunk of the tree is used in making cassia. The species Cinnamomum aromaticum is used for cassia production in China. Other species are from Vietnam (Cinnamomum loureiroi) and Burma (Cinnamomum burmannii). The latter are very similar in flavor and texture and are also sold as cinnamon in the US. Burmese cinnamon has the least essential oil content and is therefore the cheapest.

Cinnamon

True cinnamon aka sweet cinnamon or ceylon cinnamon has deeper and more subtle flavor. The texture is flaky as the sticks are made up of many thin layers. Only the bark of thin shoots are used in the production of ceylon cinnamon. True cinnamon is grown primarily in Sri Lanka, parts of Southern India, Bangladesh, Java and Sumatra. If you want to buy the real thing, look out for the scientific name Cinnamomum zeylanicum or Cinnamomum verum.

Click here for a recipe that uses cinnamon or cassia. Looking for Veena’s Market recipe kits that use Ceylon Cinnamon? They are:

Our Veena’s Vindaloo kit uses organic Cassia.

Ceylon cinnamon sticks

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On the Streets of Egypt

I have Egypt on my mind. While Egyptians have risen up like a tsunami that will not abate until it has destroyed the Mubarak regime in its wake, all I can do is follow the news. While history is being made on the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, all I can do is write about my favorite Egyptian street food. But Egypt is also on my mind for another reason. The pictures below are from three weeks ago when my Egyptian friend Yasmin invited a few of us to lunch to learn how to make Koshary just a few days before she was about to leave for Egypt for a month-long vacation.  A few hours ago, she posted a quick note on Facebook to let us know that she is fine. Relieved, it struck me how today events around the world affect me in a much more personal way than even ten years ago. And in my small way, writing this post inexplicably makes me feel closer to the people of Egypt.

Koshary is one of the ultimate street foods. Just like Egyptians from many walks of life have come together to create the perfect storm of a protest, the many layers in this humble dish come together to make a very satisfying dish. It is affordable, filling and fairly healthy though loaded with carbs. While the various ingredients take time to assemble, it is simple to make. Rather than the pyramids or the sphinx, this dish is one of my favorite things from my trips to Egypt.

There are many recipes for Koshary and some include toppings that others don’t. It is up to you to decide which of the toppings to include although I highly recommend keeping all of them. Koshary is typically served with a tomato sauce and a garlic sauce. Yasmin combined the two sauces for ease. This recipe serves 4. The various ingredients could be prepared ahead of time and brought to room temperature or warmed before serving.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup short grain rice
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni or dittalini
  • 2 large onions (or store-bought fried onions if you’re feeling lazy)
  • 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 dried red chili of medium heat (or 1/2 teaspoon of crushed chili flakes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin, freshly powdered
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt to taste (roughly 1.5 teaspoons)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained

Recipe (Steps 1-3 can be done in parallel)

1. Place rice in a pot. Rinse the rice 3 times and drain. Add 1 and 3/4 cups of water. Bring to boil, lower heat to medium-low and cover pot with lid. Cook for 20 minutes or till rice is soft and tender. Keep lid on for another 5 minutes.

2. Place the lentils in another pot. Rinse and pick out stones or other impurities. Add 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and cover pot with lid ajar. Cook for 20 minutes or till lentils are cooked and soft but still retain their shape.

3. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on pasta package to cook it.

4. Slice the onions very thinly (thinner than in the picture). Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt (helps to cook the onions faster). Stir occasionally. Turn the heat down to medium once the onions start browning. Saute till nicely brown and well caramelized. This step takes some time and requires patience. To speed this step up, consider dividing the onions and cooking in two skillets.

5. Peel and mince the garlic. Break the red chili into 3 or 4 smaller pieces. Grind the garlic and red chili using a mortar and pestle. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic, chili and the cumin powder. Stir regularly while sautéing for 30 seconds to release all the flavor. Add the tomato paste and stir for another 30 seconds. Add the vinegar and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes. Add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt or to taste. Keep in mind that the sauce should be a bit on the saltier side as it will provide the flavor for the rice, pasta, chickpeas and lentils.

6. Place all the ingredients into individual bowls. Make your koshary by adding the ingredients in layers on your plate or bowl. Start with the rice and macaroni, and then add the chickpeas and lentils and finally garnish with the onions. Sprinkle sauce over your dish. Mix it all up or enjoy the various textures of this amazing dish separately.

Notes

1. Although the texture will be different, you could substitute brown rice for the white rice. Many recipes call for long grain or basmati rice.

2. Use what rice you wish but the more traditional recipes seem to call for short grain rice. If you use a different rice, please note that the ratio of water to rice will vary.

3. If you find legumes difficult to digest, add a piece of kelp seaweed or kombu while cooking. The kombu softens the legumes and makes them easier to digest. Even if you use canned chickpeas, soak them in some water and kelp before draining and using.

Finally enjoy this dish with family and friends.

Keeping my fingers crossed for a smooth transition to a government of the people in Egypt.

Peace,

Veena

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Upma – South Indian Soul Food

Upma or uppittu

The intoxicating smell of fresh curry leaves in hot oil wafted around corners and into the bedroom where I was trying to sleep off the flu but was instead tired and cranky. The aroma of freshly roasted semolina hung around the kitchen inviting me to peek in. I just had to get out of bed and go get the camera. It was right after Christmas. I was at my mom’s and she had been busy cooking.

My mom’s ‘upma’ (also known as uppittu in Kannada, my mother tongue) is one of those memory triggering foods. Others made their upma too soft and mushy. Her’s always had a much more interesting texture. The lentils in the dish get crunchy when fried in oil and add greatly to the texture. But for some reason, my brother didn’t like anything crunchy. So if mom added the lentils, he didn’t like it and if she didn’t add them, I complained! Poor mom. This time though, he said it was OK (I asked nicely) which was very nice of him. We fought over the silliest things when we were kids!

I dug in eagerly, savoring the flavors and appreciating the crunchiness of the lentils contrasted with the moistness of the semolina. I’m sure the upma helped me get over the flu. Upma though is great anytime whether you’re ill or not. It is truly South Indian soul food.

There are many upma recipes online but I wanted to share my mom’s recipe as a couple of things have been simplified. The ingredients can be found in an Indian or Asian grocery store. Many of them can also be found at Whole Foods.

My mom was happy to share her recipe for upma with you. Here it is. I hope you get to make it sometime soon!

Ingredients

2 cups upma semolina (can use couscous instead, both are made from durum wheat but the couscous grains are larger and processed slightly differently)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal (split skinless black lentils)
1 teaspoon chana dal (split chickpeas)
5-10 fresh curry leaves
2-3 green chilies (optional and to your taste), chopped
½ onion thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 cup frozen peas and carrots mix (can also use edamame or grated carrots)
4 cups water (3 if using couscous)
¼ cup grated unsweetened coconut (if dessicated, rehydrate in 1/3 cup warm water for 10 minutes)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (or to taste)
 
 
Recipe

Heat the water over medium heat high and bring to a boil.  Add the peas and carrots. Let cook for 2-3 minutes. While waiting for the water to boil, proceed to the next step.

Heat the oil in a large skillet (should hold the semolina and the water) over medium heat. You know the oil is hot if you drop in a mustard seed and it sizzles.

Add the mustard seeds and wait 5 seconds or till they start crackling.

Add the curry leaves, urud dal and chilies and stir constantly to prevent from burning. Saute for 10 minutes.

Add onion and sauté till translucent plus another minute

Then add the semolina or couscous. Fold in with the oil and spices and roast for two minutes.

Pour in the boiling water with the cooked peas and carrots. Stir to break up any lumps that may form.

The semolina should be cooked in 2-3 minutes. The couscous may take a minute longer.

Add salt and squeeze lime to taste. Mix in the grated coconut.

Serve hot with yogurt onthe side. You can  mix the upma with yogurt if it is too spicy.

Savory semolina

Enjoy and feel good!

Veena

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Japan: Of friendship and food

Back in 2001, I was fortunate enough to celebrate New Years in Japan with my friend’s family at her grandmother’s house in a small village near Himeji Castle. The whole family had gathered – caring and curious aunts and uncles, friendly cousins, and adorable little nephews and nieces. The kitchen was a beehive of activity with grandmother running the show. Being guests, we weren’t allowed to help and we’d probably only have been in the way anyway. As the evening got colder and the clock inched closer to midnight, we overcame the initial shyness with the couple of words of Japanese we knew, our hosts’ smattering of English, and lots of good cheer. When we finally sat down to dinner, we needed five tables to accommodate everyone. My friend’s mother, grandmother and aunts had prepared an amazing spread. I’ll confess that with the many years that have since passed, I don’t exactly remember all the dishes we ate. I do remember my favorite was the wild boar nabe. After the feast, my friend’s father took us to the family shrine to ring the bell and bring in the new year. I will never forget how lucky I felt to have been a part of a Japanese family for that celebration. Every new year, I crave nabe and many of the other Japanese dishes that we had on that trip and I think of my friend and her family. Once I even made okonomiyaki and gomae (spinach salad with sesame seeds) as part of the new year’s eve dinner.

So you can imagine my pleasure when I received a surprise package from this dear friend a couple of months ago. She sent me a book of Bashō’s haiku, Harumi’s Japanese Cooking and the most encouraging note ever. It totally made my day. I’ve been meaning to use my new cookbook ever since. She also sent me The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches, a compilation of haiku by Matsuo Bashō, a Japanese poet born in 1644. He wrote this haiku upon meeting an old friend he hadn’t seen for twenty years. It is one of my favorite.

A lively cherry
In full bloom
Between the two lives
Now made one.

Tofu with Hot Spring Egg ‘Onsen Tamago’ (Onsen Tamago Nose Dofu)

Adapted from Harumi Kurihara’s Harumi’s Japanese Cooking


Ingredients

1 lb Silken Tofu
4 eggs
1/4 cup soy sauce (I use Kikkoman Less Sodium)
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon sake
a couple of drops of fish sauce (optional)
roughly 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or to your taste)
roughly 10 stalks of chives finely chopped (or to your taste, can also use spring onions)
 

Recipe

Carefully remove the tofu from its packaging while trying to keep it intact. Let excess water drain and cut into 4 big pieces.

Soft boil the eggs so the white is just cooked and the yolk runny. The cookbook says to use eggs that are at room temperature, place them in a glass container and pour boiling water to cover them and allow to cook for 10 minutes. (I screwed up and forgot to bring my egg down to room temperature and it was still uncooked. Fortunately I had a second egg but I screwed up again and overcooked it. Yup I make many mistakes. Next time I plan to place the egg in boiling water on the stove for 4-5 minutes.)

Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake and fish sauce in a mug and microwave for 45 seconds. (Book says to microwave for 2 minutes but my dressing ended up too thick)

Place a piece of tofu on each of four plates and scoop out about a wide tablespoon from the top of each piece.

Crack an egg and carefully empty the white and yolk into the hollow of each piece of tofu.

Arrange the previously scooped out tofu on the side. Place some grated ginger on top and garnish the dish with the chives.

Pour the dressing over the tofu before serving.

My verdict? The dish was simple, yet elegant, subtle yet smooth and flavorful.

 

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What I Learned About Baking Swiss Christmas Cookies

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I can throw a curry together anytime. But baking intimidates me and I had a cookie party to go to. And I can’ take curry to a cookie party now, can I?

And so while thinking about what I could take, I remembered the Swiss Christmas cookies my husband made two years ago right after the snowpocalypse we had in Seattle. He’s from Switzerland and since we weren’t going there for the holidays, he decided we’d bring Switzerland to Seattle instead. And then proceeded to make two kinds of cookies. He then followed that up with making Fondue Chinoise, the Swiss version of Chinese hot pot. And this is a guy that cooks twice a year. I was impressed!

This year though it was up to me to make the cookies and I went with Brunsli, cookies made with almond flour and cocoa.

I used this recipe and tweaked it based on what I had available at home. I also left out the Kirsch since, from prior experience, what is available as cherry liquor here tastes more like cough syrup and is better avoided. I left out the flour as I only had whole wheat flour and wanted to make the cookies gluten free.

Ingredients (made ~35 2″ cookies)

5 oz sugar
pinch salt
9 oz Almond meal/flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
2 cloves freshly ground
3.5 oz plus 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (mine had bits of dark chocolate in it)
2 egg whites
1-2 tablespoons slivered almonds (optional)

Recipe

Mix the sugar, salt, almond flour, spices and cocoa powder in a big bowl.

Add egg whites and mix to form a dough.

Divide the dough into 3-4 portions. Roll out a portion of the dough using a rolling pin into a sheet that is roughly a third of an inch thick. Sprinkle the slivered almonds on top and ‘fix’ them in place by going over gently with the rolling pin.

Line a tray (or two) with baking paper. Cut the dough into squares or use a cookie cutter. Place the cookies on the tray. Once all the cookies are made, leave the tray out, uncovered, overnight. *I didn’t have enough time and only left them out for an hour*. This probably affected the consistency a bit.

Heat oven to 480 degrees F and bake the cookies for 6 minutes.

Take out the trays and place the cookies on a plate in a single layer. If you’re not serving them right away, store the cookies in an airtight box.

Lessons

As much as I liked the taste of my cookies, I knew they were not perfect. So what lessons did I learn with my cookie experiment?

Follow the directions! They didn’t feel quite done after 6 minutes and I put them back in the over for another few minutes. They ended up a bit harder than I would have liked. As much as tweaking recipes is fun and often required, you should know when to tweak and when to leave alone. If its the first time with a recipe, follow it first. You can tweak it the next time.

Trying something completely new in the kitchen is exciting! Gladly, this was an easy recipe to start with and I knew there wouldn’t be any Swiss people at the party who’d know how the cookie was supposed to taste like.

And lastly, although I ‘share’ my recipes on the blog, sharing in person is sweeter. Way sweeter!

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A Winter Twist to Delicious Daal

It was the third cold, dark and rainy day in a row. The kind that leaves you with a slight case of the blues. But nothing that a pot of soul-satisfying Daal wouldn’t remedy. I’d had a hankering for my lentil curry anyway and got to work making it.

While the lentils were boiling away merrily, I peeked into the fridge to see what vegetables I could add. There were none but there was a big bunch of curly kale that I needed to use soon. Now, around here, we LOVE kale but I usually prepare it by itself and enjoy it with slices of fresh avocado. While there are plenty of leafy green vegetables in India, there is no kale. So it was a serendipitous idea to sauté the kale with the spices in the Daal Recipe kit and add it to the lentil curry. Or maybe it was just a matter of time. I’m sure others have discovered this already, but here’s my version. This recipe is a slight variation of the one included in the Daal kit.

I like curly kale best but any variety of kale will do. Lacinato kale (aka Dino or Cavalo Nero) is pictured.

Ingredients (serves 4)

½ bunch of kale (rinsed, stem ends cut and discarded, leaves cut lengthwise in the middle and then chopped into 1 inch pieces)
1 Delicious Daal kit OR
1 cup toor daal or split pigeon peas
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
5 curry leaves
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1.5 cups basmati rice (cooking instructions not included in this post)
1 small tomato (diced)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
½ lime (or lemon)

Recipe

Place lentils in a thick bottomed pot and add 5 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat

Turn heat down to medium-low, cover pot with lid ajar and simmer for 35 minutes or till the lentils are fully cooked (flat and mushy)

Heat the oil in a big pot or wok over medium high heat. You know the oil is hot enough when you throw in a mustard seed and it sizzles. Don’t get the oil too hot as it will burn the spices.

Add the mustard seeds and wait a few seconds or till they just start crackling.

Add the cumin seeds, curry leaves and turmeric.

Add the kale after 2-3 seconds and stir to coat well with oil. Saute for 3-4 minutes or till the leaves have wilted slightly and are half the original volume.

Add ½ a cup of water, reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot with a lid ajar. Cook for 3 minutes and then remove from heat.

Once the lentils have boiled, add the kale to the pot of lentils along with 1 teaspoon salt and the tomato. Mix.

Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 8 minutes or till the kale stems are cooked and the leaves are not tough (I do like a bit of crunch though)

Taste for salt and squeeze in juice of ½ a lime (more if you like). Serve over rice.

Close your eyes and take a deep breath before diving in spoon first into your hearty Daal. And feel the blues slipping away. Mmmmm.

p.s. What to do with the leftover kale? Simply saute in olive oil with a couple cloves of garlic. Add a cup of stock (or water and salt), bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover with lid ajar and cook for 7 minutes or till the kale is cooked but still slightly crunchy.

Or make kale chips. Toss with olive oil, freshly ground pepper, and a big pinch of sea salt. Roast in oven preheated to 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes.

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Making Green Beans Indian Style

I made green beans along with pumpkin curry as part of an Indian style thanksgiving menu meal. The classic green bean casserole is nice but tends to get sidelined. So how about an Indian take on this dish for something different? It’s easy and a lot healthier than cooking with cream of mushroom soup.

This recipe below is inspired by the recipe for South Indian style curried vegetables or ‘palyam’ but with a few changes that I thought were appropriate for thanksgiving.

Ingredients

(serves 6 as a side)

  • 1 lb tender green beans, rinsed and ends cut
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened grated coconut (if using desiccated coconut, re-hydrate in warm water for 5 minutes before using.)
  • 1-2 teaspoons lime juice

Recipe

Spread out the beans on a plate and microwave on high for 4 minutes. This greatly reduces the cooking time later.

Heat the oil in a skillet large enough to hold all the beans, over medium high heat. You know the oil is hot enough if you put in a mustard seed and it ‘crackles’.

Add the mustard seeds and wait for ten seconds or till they start popping. Immediately add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Saute till the onion is caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Stir regularly to ensure the onion doesn’t burn.

Add the green beans and mix well to coat the beans with oil. If the pan gets dry, add a bit more oil. Add a 1/4 cup water, cover skillet with lid, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes or till the beans are just cooked. I like my beans just slightly crunchy.

Mix in the grated coconut. If you’re using frozen coconut, bring it out of the freezer about 30 minutes before you need it. Turn heat off once the coconut has fully defrosted and mixes easily with the beans.

Taste for salt and squeeze lime juice and mix just before serving. Adding the lime juice at the end maintains the vibrant green of the beans.

Notes

Grated, desiccated coconut can usually be found in the bakery aisle in your supermarket.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Veena

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Thanksgiving Curry

I miss my dad. He was supposed to be here right about now but his trip got delayed by a few months. With all the changes in his life and mine, we haven’t managed to get together since 2007! I was thinking about the last time we cooked together. And I think it was many many years ago when I lived in Cincinnati. We made a lamb moussaka together from my Mediterranean cookbook. It was my first time cooking with lamb and making moussaka. I forget how it turned out but I remember it was a fun experience!

So though we ( my husband and I) won’t be spending Thanksgiving with family, we’ll be spending it with some of our amazing friends here in Seattle. This post on Thanksgiving curry is for my dad, the friends who shared this meal with us (and who were nice enough to say this was one of the best curries they’ve had), and all the friends with whom we look forward to sharing a meal with soon!

Let’s talk about the curry. And yes, that’s Thanksgiving CURRY! And no, it’s not just curry that you happen to eat over Thanksgiving cause you don’t like Turkey or don’t eat meat. It’s an honest to goodness thanksgiving, fall themed curry. It’s Indianish Thanksgiving food. Or Thanksgivingish Indian food. Well, you get the idea. I’m sure this is not a new concept but is (or was) new to me. So what am I talking about?

Pumpkin curry. Specifically, steamed and mashed pumpkin ‘purée’ added to caramelized onions with garam masala and a few other spices. Oh yeah along with slightly roasted kuri squash and bosc pear. Pear! My new favorite ingredient to add to savory dishes.

This recipe serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 (~2.5 lbs) sugar pie pumpkin, cut in half, de-seed, slice each half into 4 or 5 pieces, microwave on high for 3 minutes.
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1 small squash (I used 1/2 a kuri squash, a delicata would work well too), process same as pumpkin and then dice into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 bosc pear, peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, grated or cut into thin matchsticks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
  • pinch nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided or to taste

Slices of pumpkin, microwaved

Recipe

Peel the skin off the pumpkin (once microwaved, it will peel of easily) and roughly dice. Throw the pieces into a pot and add a cup of water. Heat on medium high till the water boils and then simmer the pot with lid ajar for 10 minutes or till the pumpkin has the consistency of mashed potato. Mix with the coconut milk. Proceed to the next steps while waiting for the pumpkin to cook.

UPDATE – An easier way to puree pumpkin…http://www.ehow.com/how_4498298_puree-sugar-pie-pumpkins.html

Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet or work. The oil is hot enough if you throw in a cumin seed and it sizzles.

Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for just 5 seconds

Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stir regularly for 3 minutes

Add the ginger and garlic. Continue to stir regularly for another 4-5 minutes or till onion is golden brown and caramelized

Add the turmeric, paprika, coriander powder, garam masala and cayenne. Mix well.

Add the pieces of squash. Stir to mix with onion and spices. Allow to cook for 3 minutes.

Add the pear. Stir and cook for another 3 minutes.

At this point you will need to add the pumpkin gravy. If your pan is not big enough, transfer the onion/spices/vegetables and the pumpkin gravy into a big enough pot.

Add a pinch of nutmeg

Simmer on low for 15 minutes

Taste for salt

Serve with rice or naan or as a soup.

Notes

To save time, you can use canned pumpkin puree.

I used bosc pears as these are best for baking. Other varieties might also work just fine.

Have leftover squash and coconut milk? I plan to make a coconut squash shake (can you say squash shake quickly without messing it up???) with a bit of milk and pinch of freshly ground cardamom.

So there, here’s your start to Thanksgiving Indian style. Coming soon (tonight?), is a post on green beans made in a simple South Indian style. Wow your guests with something different than the same old green bean casserole.

Interested in making this curry but don’t have all the spices? I’m happy to mail the thanksgiving curry spice blend to the first five commenters to this post. It’s my way of saying thanks for reading the blog. Send me an email to veena (at) veenasmarket (dot) com with your address after you leave your comment. And no, I won’t give your address away, sign you up for spam or anything. I hate that too!

Veena

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