Masaledar Chholay

5 11 2011

Or, Chickpeas in Spicy Tomato Gravy.  Yes, folks, it’s the first weekend of the month, which means it’s Currypalooza time!  I got to choose again this time around, and I picked this recipe, from a feature in Food and Wine about Sanjeev Kapoor.

masaledar chholay

Masaledar Chholay is a Punjabi dish, from a cuisine which I am beginning to learn tends to contain a paste of blended garlic, ginger, and chilis.  (Sorry, that sentence was terrible.  I’m a little burned out at the moment.  The new job is great so far, but much more mentally taxing than the old one.)  It’s a simple dish to put together, and comes largely from pantry staples: canned chickpeas and tomatoes, fresh onions, ginger, garlic, chilis, and cilantro, and a handful of not-very-exotic spices.  Cooking it up, Nick and I both agreed that the flavor was a little flat.  A squeeze of lime juice set things right.

Chickpeas in spicy tomato gravy, spinach simmered in yogurt, kolmino patio, rice

I served it with yogurt-simmered spinach (sort of a cheater’s saag paneer), kolmino patio (yet another hit from Miss Masala – spicy sweet-and-sour shrimp), and basmati rice.  The most colorful place settings possible completed the scene.

To see a couple more takes on the dish, check out the other Currypalooza posts at more please by Margie and Sage Trifle.

And with that, I wish you a great weekend!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Patra ni Macchi

2 09 2011

It’s the first Friday of the month, and that means it’s time for another Currypalooza!  This time, I got to choose the recipe, and I picked Patra ni Macchi, a dish traditionally served for Parsi weddings.  It’s a flavorful dish featuring cod marinated in a spicy, aromatic paste of coconut, chilies, and herbs.  The fish is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.  It’s healthy, it’s quick, it’s easy, and best of all, it’s impressive.  Of course it comes from my favorite Indian cookbook, Miss Masala.  I wrote to Mallika Basu, the author, to ask her permission to reprint the recipe from her book, and she graciously gave it.

When I cooked this, I halved the recipe, since there were only three of us, and I substituted dried coconut (shredded, unsweetened) for the fresh.  It needed a little extra water, but no big deal.  I served it with a dish of my own invention – potatoes boiled with hot peppers, mashed, seasoned with turmeric and garam masala, mixed with some peas, then shaped into little patties and pan-fried.  The photo, I admit, is not great, due in part to the green-on-green nature of the dish, and in part to the extra long apéro hour before dinner.  But the gin and tonics were so refreshing, and, well, by the time we sat down to eat everyone was sufficiently… refreshed.

Patra ni Macchi

For dessert we had bowls of fresh mango sprinkled with vanilla salt and dolloped with yogurt.  It was a great summer meal that definitely transported us out of France for the evening.

Patra ni Macchi (Marinated cod steamed in banana-leaf parcels)
Reprinted with permission from Miss Masala by Mallika Basu

Feeds 6

6 cod fillets, skinned and all bones removed
6 large banana leaves
3 garlic cloves
6 fresh green finger chillies
6 Tbsp. fresh or frozen grated coconut
50g (2oz) fresh coriander leaves
25g (1oz) fresh mint leaves
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt

  1. Wash each cod fillet well under cold running water, dabbing dry on kitchen paper.  Wash the banana leaves, taking care not to split the delicate fibres.
  2. Peel the garlic and, using a blender or food processor, purée into a paste with the remaining ingredients, adding salt to taste.  The marinade should be strong and punchy in every way.
  3. Place each fish fillet on a banana leaf and smother with the marinade.  Then wrap it as neatly as you can and set aside.  You don’t need to tie it with thread because the steaming process will seal the parcel shut.
  4. When you’re ready to eat, steam each banana leaf parcel for 7-10 minutes, open side facing down, using a steamer, or a colander covered with a pan lid and placed over a large pan of boiling water.  The fish should be moist but cooked through. (Open just one parcel first to check if cooked.)
  5. This is a wonderful way to impress guests and can be eaten alongside Parsi Brown Rice.  Or serve with Khichdi for a super-healthy meal.

Check out the other Currypalooza posts for this month:

More Please by Margie
Sage Trifle
Ann Mah

* * * * *

More bits and bobs from around the web for your weekend reading enjoyment:

Remember back in May, when I was on the Katia and Kyliemac podcast?  Well, we recorded a third episode, which is now up for your listening pleasure.

Last weekend Nick and I joined Emiglia of Tomato Kumato on a hike and a picnic to mark the end of summer.  Though to tell the truth, it’s been downright summery the last few days, and I am not complaining.

I have a new recipe up on Girls’ Guide to Paris, this time for Apricot Swirl Ice Cream.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a happy hour to get to.  Happy Friday!

On this day in 2010: Cactus L.A. (In which I eat Mexican food three times in one day.)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Eggplant with Mustard Seeds and Yogurt

5 08 2011

August’s Currypalooza recipe, chosen by Margie of More Please, features eggplant, which is appropriate considering we’re really at the height of eggplant season these days.  Like last month, it’s a Madhur Jaffrey recipe, and again features yogurt in the sauce, which has an unfortunate tendency to break and make the dish look rather unappetizing.

This was the best I could do.

It tasted great, though.  Not too spicy, nor overly mustardy, but with a rich, complex flavor.  The mustard seeds offered a nice textural contrast with the yielding eggplant.  There were some interesting techniques in the recipe, too – crushing mustard seeds and mixing them with lots of water and a little cayenne to use as the base for cooking the eggplant was certainly an unexpected step, but I think it helped to infuse those flavors right into the vegetable.

To increase the spice factor of our dinner, I also made a spicy vegetable dal with green beans and carrots, and rounded out the meal with some steamed basmati rice.

Margie has posted the recipe on her site, along with her take on it.  Rocquie of Sage Trifle has hers up as well, and check Needful Things later today for Grapefruit’s Currypalooza post.

I’m having a lot of fun with this Currypalooza so far.  I love getting a new Indian recipe to try every month, and it’s interesting to see how everyone else fared with the same recipe.  We often discuss it over email, sharing problems, ingredient questions, and the like, so it’s been educational, too.  If you want to join us, let me know, and I’ll be sure to get you on the email list for next month – when I get to choose the recipe!

On this day in 2009: C’est Moi Le Chef! Strangely enough, I had a similarly frustrating experience today, where I had to wait for TWO HOURS after finishing my work before the sales rep came so I could place my order for next week.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

 





Cardamom and Black Pepper Chicken

1 07 2011

Almost exactly a year ago, I got bitten by the Indian cooking bug.  Since then, I’ve been cooking up various vegetable dals on a pretty regular basis.  So when Grapefruit of the blog Needful Things announced that she was starting a monthly Currypalooza event, I was very excited to participate.  Then life happened for a few months – my arsenal of Indian spices were all packed away and I couldn’t get to them, I had insanely busy weeks juggling houseguests, job interviews, and deadlines, but now that we’re finally settled in the new apartment and have a little time to breathe (thank you, vacation!) I’m pleased to be able to play along in this month’s Currypalooza.  The dish in question?  Madhur Jaffrey’s Cardamom and Black Pepper Chicken.

Look Ma!  No Carbs!

The recipe was delightfully quick – prepare a marinade for the chicken, let it sit while preparing the rest of the sauce, throw it in the sauce, marinade and all, and let it finish cooking.  I deviated from the recipe a bit, because I wasn’t sure how or why I should grate a tomato, so I just chopped one up.  Other than that, I was unusually faithful.  Grapefruit will be posting the recipe on her blog, and as soon as she does, I’ll put in the link.  And here it is!

What to serve with a saucy Indian chicken dish?  The obvious answer is probably rice, but Nick and I had already eaten rice at lunch that day.  Or naan, but it was a little too close to dinnertime to start kneading and proofing dough.  I didn’t feel like getting two pots dirty to make lentils, and I definitely wanted a vegetable component to the meal.  Mallika and her wonderful Quick Indian Cooking blog to the rescue!  There I found a delectable recipe for Masala Mattar, a spicy side dish featuring peas.  The two dishes worked well together, and I even got to have some of the leftover chicken for lunch the next day.  The peas were all gone, so that time, I made rice.

On this day in 2008: Get Confident, Stupid!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Just Call Me Little Miss Masala

25 06 2010

Much like the bread-baking question, one might wonder why, living within walking distance of Paris’ most Indian-centric neighborhood, I would feel compelled to cook up an Indian feast of my own.  Well, one reason is that the more esoteric ingredients are much easier to come by.  Another is that you can’t go out every night, and besides, isn’t it nice to have a fridge full of amazing, somehow still-improving leftovers?

The internet seems to be full of little synchronicities.  In this case, my friend Ann also got the craving for home-cooked Indian food, and wrote up her adventures in spice hunting.  Fueling the fire, she also happened to have a giveaway for a new book called Miss Masala: Real Indian Cooking for Busy Living by Mallika Basu. 

Real Indian Cooking for Busy Living

Basu also writes a blog, called Quick Indian Cooking, which I am looking forward to exploring in depth.  The book is thoroughly enjoyable, and after I won Ann’s giveaway, I felt even more inspired to go on my own spice-shopping spree and get cooking.

Read the rest of this entry »





New Ganga

4 04 2008

No, it’s not some development from our hydroponic-savvy friends in the Netherlands, it’s an Indian restaurant.

Nick and I took some time last night to explore our new neighborhood.  We were hankering for some Chinese food, but apparently went down the wrong street, as there were none to be seen.  We did, however, encounter a number of Japanese places, pizzerias, bistros, and so on.  We passed one Indian restaurant and thought that that sounded pretty good.  After a couple more blocks without finding any Chinese, we happened upon New Ganga and decided to go for it.

I’ll admit I was a little worried when we walked in and the dining room was completely empty, but my fears were soon allayed.  The host/waiter (who spoke more English than French, I think) brought us a bright pink apéritif and a round of pappadum.  The crispy, cumin-laced cracker worked well as an amuse-bouche, awakening my appetite and making me hunger for what was in store.

Apéritif and Pappadum

We ordered the “Indian Beer” listed on the menu, and opted to start with naan and samosas.  The beer arrived first, with a multilingual (Italian, French, and German) label which said that either this was India’s best selling beer, or it was the best selling Indian beer in the world, or that it was the best beer in India, depending on the language.

Indian Beer

The beer itself was light and fairly unremarkable, but served us well when the naan came out, accompanied by three sauces/chutneys.

Naan

The sauce on the right was a mild, slightly sour tamarind sauce.  Fairly standard, but good for cooling the flames of the sauce on the left – a confit of chili peppers, as far as I can tell, and probably the single hottest thing I’ve eaten since arriving in Paris over two months ago.  And I mean that in a good way.  The green sauce in the middle was the most interesting of the bunch.  It was a coriander-mint chutney, but with a spicy kick.  Very surprising when the cool mint gave way to a touch of green chili heat on the finish.  All three were so good I wanted to buy jars and bring them home.  Then just when our palates were really getting warmed up, the samosas arrived.

Samosas

They were hot from the fryer, with a nice thin layer of dough encasing a filling of mixed vegetables (looked like mostly cauliflower to me).  Delicious on their own or drizzled with one or more of the sauces.  When we were done with our appetizers, the plates were whisked away and before we could protest, the trio of sauces was gone.  Next time I’m going to hang onto them, although it turned out that they weren’t really necessary for our main courses.

Lamb with eggplant, Spinach with paneer, and Saffron rice

In my experience, most Indian cuisine isn’t particularly photogenic, being generally stew-like in consistency.  But usually after the first bite I cease to care what it looks like, as long as it tastes good.  And I was not disappointed.  The rice was fluffy with a subtle saffron flavor, which made a great backdrop for the other two dishes.  The saag paneer (they called it something different on their menu, but that’s what I’ve always called the spinach and homemade cheese dish) was quite tasty, but the cheese was disconcertingly smooth.  Nick mentioned Laughing Cow, and while I don’t think that’s what it was, the paneer certainly didn’t have the same texture I’m accustomed to.  France can be a difficult place to find non-French cheeses, so I’m willing to let it slide if they just put in dollops of fromage blanc or something along those lines.  On a side note, they also offered cheese naan, of which I highly doubt the authenticity.  Moving on, the orange dish in the lower right of the photo was lamb with eggplant.  In a word, it was scrumptious.  We cleaned all three plates, wiping up the last bits with reserved pieces of naan.  We will definitely be returning.








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