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Indian feast – 4 delicious dishes

 

I have mentioned my love for cooking with spices in many posts and have included both Thai [1] and Indian [2] categories in my list because they are two of the cuisines I cook whenever I have the opportunity.  I sometimes find that making spice mixes and curry pastes can be quite time consuming and I have been told in the past that this is one of the reasons may people but pastes etc rather than make them.  I’m not sure if I’m just obsessed or crazy but I always make my own.  I find that what I can create at home has so much more depth than what comes out of a jar but I also have a trick.  Whenever I am making a spice blend or a paste I double the recipe.  I use one portion for what I what to make on that day then put the remainder in the fridge or freezer until I need it.  That way if I want to make something but don’t have the extra time to grind the paste, it is already done.  My pastes usually keep for about three weeks in the fridge and a few months or so in the freezer.

Recently both G & I were desperate for a feed of Indian.  I wanted to make a main dish with several side vegetarian dishes and rice but didn’t want a curry or anything too heavy.  Besides I am a true believer that a curry is always best made a day ahead of when it is needed as the flavours just marry together so much better if it is left to sit for a little while.  I was looking for something a little different that would taste great on the day it was made.  Although I didn’t plan it, I ended up creating four different dishes.  No I’m not crazy.  While the main dish was cooking I created the side dishes.  The worst thing about it all was having four separate pots to wash but the delicious food made up for any hardship. 🙂

 

kheema matar (mince lamb curry with peas) – (recipe from “a little taste of India” by Murdoch Books) 
serves 4

Ingredients
2 onions
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
5cm (2in) piece of ginger, roughly chopped
4 green chillies
160ml (2/3 cup) oil (I used about half this amount)
2 Indian bay leaves (cassia leaves)
500g (1lb 2oz) minced lamb
pinch of asafoetida
2 tablespoons tomato puree (I used tomato paste)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons thick plain yoghurt
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
225g (1 1/2 cups) fresh or frozen peas
1/4 teaspoon garam marsala [3]
5 tablespoons finely chopped coriander (cilantro)

Preparation
Put the onion, garlic, ginger and two of the chillies in a food processor and process until very finely chopped.  If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the ingredients or grind them together in a mortar and pestle.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, add the onion mixture and bay leaves and fry for 5 – 6 minutes, or until golden brown.  Add the lamb mince and fry for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the meat from sticking and break up any lumps of mince.  During this time the flavours of the onion mixture will infuse into the meat.  Add the asafoetida and tomato puree, stir and lower the hear to a simmer.

Add the turmeric, chilli powder, coriander and cumin and stir for 1 minute.  Add the yoghurt, salt and pepper and continue frying for 5 minutes.  Add 200ml (3/4 cup) water, a little at a time, stirring after each addition until it is well absorbed.  Add the peas and the two remaining whole chillies.  Stir well, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the peas are cooked through.  If using frozen peas, cook the mince and chillies for 20 minutes then add the peas 5 minutes before the end of cooking.  Add the garam marsala and chopped coriander and stir for 1 minute before serving. 

My tips/alterations:  *I used the same volume of oil but used ghee instead because I really like the flavour of it.  I also used about half the oil that the recipe listed.  This meant that I needed to stir the onion mix a little more to ensure it didn’t stick to the pan.  *Indian bay leaves are not the same flavour as European bay leaves therefore they can not be substituted.  If you do not have them just leave them out.

 

ease: 8/10.   
prep time: 15mins
cooking time: 55mins.
  There are multiple elements cooking at the same time.
total: 1 hour 10 minutes.

taste: 9/10.  We both wanted a good Indian meal and this recipe did not disappoint.  G said that this had the depth of an Indian meal that had been made a day ahead, the best way to have it.  I loved the combination of flavours and thought that the sweetness of the lamb and the peas was balanced well with the earthiness of the spices. 

would I make it again: Yes – This is definitely a winner! 

I have made this dish again using beef mince.  It was nice but we both agreed that the lamb was spectacular. 

 

aloo gobi (spiced cauliflower and potato) – (recipe from “a little taste of India” by Murdoch Books, adapted by Fiona at Food 4 Thought) 
serves 4

Ingredients
1 tablespoon ghee or 3 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 onion, finely chopped
200g (7oz) potatoes, cut into cubes (I left these out) *
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons garam marsala [3]
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped *
1 large cauliflower, about 1.25kg (2lb 12oz), cut into florets
2cm (3/4in) piece of ginger
1 teaspoon sugar

Preparation
Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy-based frying pan over low heat.  Add the mustard seeds, cover the pan and wait for the seeds to pop.  Add the onion and potato and fry until lightly browned. 

Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and garam marsala to the pan and fry for a couple of seconds.  Add the tomato and stir until the spices are well mixed.  Add the cauliflower florets and stir until well mixed.  Stir the ginger, sugar and 125ml (1/2 cup) water, increase the heat to medium and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  Stir occasionally during cooking.  Season with salt, to taste.

Uncover the pan and if the sauce is too runny, simmer it for 1 – 2 minutes before serving.   

My tips/alterations:  *I prefer to use ghee rather than oil therefore I have provided you with the measurement that I used which is not in the original recipe.  *I left the potatoes out of this dish as I made a separate dish using them.  This meant that I also reduced the water content to 100ml.  *I used tinned tomatoes as I didn’t have fresh ones.  The quantity that I used was 400g.

 

 

  

ease: 10/10. This is not difficult, there a just a few elements to co-ordinate timing for.  
prep time: 5mins
cooking time: 20mins.
  There are multiple elements cooking at the same time.
total: 25mins.

taste: 8/10.  This is a great way to serve cauliflower, whether it be as an accompaniment to an Indian meal or any other meal.   The spices just seem to work with this vegetable.

would I make it again: Yes – Healthy and delicious, you can’t beat that.

 

potato masala – (recipe from “a little taste of India” by Murdoch Books, adapted by Fiona at Food 4 Thought) 
serves 4

Ingredients
10 tablespoon of ghee or 2 tablespoons of oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves *
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1cm (1/4in) piece of ginger, grated
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 onions, chopped
500g (1lb 2oz) waxy potatoes, cut into 2cm (3/4 in) cubes
1 tablespoon tamarind puree *

Preparation
Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy-base frying pan, add the mustard seed, cover, and when they start to pop add the curry leaves, turmeric, ginger, chilli and onion and cook, uncovered, until the onion is soft. 

Add the potato cubes and 250ml (1 cup) water to the pan, bring to the boil, cover and cook until the potato is tender and almost breaking up.  If there is any liquid left in the pan, simmer, uncovered, until it evaporates.  If the potato isn’t cooked and there is no liquid left, add a little more and continue to cook.  Add the tamarind puree and season with salt, to taste.        

My tips/alterations:  *I am fortunate enough to have a curry tree.  You can purchase curry leaves from most Asian supermarkets.  *I left the onions out of this dish (because I ran out) and just added the potatoes to the spices.  * I like to cook my potatoes a little longer after the water has evaporated, that way they get a little crisp on the outside.  I add the tamarind puree just before serving.  *Tamarind puree is used to give the dish a little sour flavour.  It can be purchased at most Asian supermarkets.

 

ease: 9/10. This is not difficult, there a just a few elements to co-ordinate timing for.  
prep time: 5mins
cooking time: 25mins.
  
total: 30mins.

taste: 9/10.  Both G & I loved this dish.  I let this cook for a little after the water had evaporated and that made the potato a little crunchy.  The tamarind gave this a touch of sourness that made this different to any of the other dishes we enjoyed in our feast. 

would I make it again: Yes – A new way with potatoes is always good.

 

chole chaat (spicy chickpeas) – (recipe from “a little taste of India” by Murdoch Books, adapted by Fiona at Food 4 Thought) 
serves 4

Ingredients
225g (8oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans) *
1 tablespoon of ghee or 2 tablespoons of oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam marsala [3]
2cm (3/4in) piece of ginger, grated
2 red chillies, finely chopped *
200g (7oz) tin chopped tomatoes, drained

Preparation
(This first step is from the original recipe, however I didn’t do this.  See my tips/alterations.)  Soak the chickpeas overnight in 2 litres (8 cups) of water.  Drain, then put the chickpeas in a large saucepan with another 2 litres (8 cups) of water.  Bring to the boil, spooning off any scum from the surface.  Then simmer over low heat for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, until soft.  It is important the chickpeas are soft at this stage as they won’t soften any more once the sauce has been added.  Drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquid.  Remove 1/2 cup of the chickpeas and thoroughly mash with a fork.

Heat the ghee or oil in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat and cook the onion until golden.  Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and garam marsala and fry for  1 minute.  Add the ginger, chilli, tomato and salt, to taste and stir until mixed.  Add the chickpeas and their cooking liquid, and the mashed chickpeas.  Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.     

My tips/alterations:  *I know it is possibly considered a sin but I didn’t use dried chickpeas and soak them overnight.  I opted for the tinned variety, rinsing them well before use.  To substitute the chickpea cooking liquid I rinsed the tomato tin and used 1/2 cup of that liquid.  *I prefer to use ghee rather than oil therefore I have provided you with the measurement that I used which is not in the original recipe.  *When using chillies if you want to reduce the heat, remove the seeds and inner membrane of the chilli.  Also, reduce the amount until you reach the desired level of heat.  Remember, you can always add more but it is difficult to take it out.  

 

ease: 7/10. This is not difficult, there a just a few elements to co-ordinate timing for.  
prep time: 5mins.  My version – See tips above.
cooking time: 15mins.  My version – See tips above.
total: 20mins.

taste: 9/10.  This is so easy and equally as delicious.  The combination of crushed chickpeas and whole ones is really good.  The spices work really well and like the other dishes I think this was a great accompaniment to the rest of the meal.

would I make it again: Yes – Easy, delicious and healthy.