Aloo Gobi…

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Aloo gobi…the classic Indian dish consisting of mostly potatoes (aloo) and cauliflower (gobi). Peas are often included. Spices vary and can be interchanged to your liking. In the version I made for dinner last night (pictured) I also added whole coriander seed. I used dry chilies but fresh can be used as well. Interchange ingredients and seasonings. Eat this as a side or main course with basmati rice. It’s simple to make, super delicious, and healthy. Make it and you won’t be sorry.

Aloo Gobi

(Potatoes, Cauliflower, and Peas)

Serves 4

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 small onion, diced

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 slices ginger, minced

1 tablespoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon whole cumin seed

½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets

¼ cup water

¼ cup lemon juice

1 cup frozen peas

1 small bunch cilantro, washed and chopped

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and add the onion and potato. Cook these for a couple minutes, until they just begin to change color. Add the garlic and ginger and cook another minute. Stir in the black mustard seeds, salt, turmeric, cumin seed, and crushed hot pepper; cook for a minute to release it’s flavor and aroma, then stir in the cauliflower, coating it with oil and spices. Add the water, then cover the skillet and cook the potatoes and cauliflower for a couple minutes. Stir in the peas and lemon juice; cook for a minute or two. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

Urban Simplicity

The Spice is Right…Two Recipes Inspired by the Near East

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So one thing you likely know about me by now if you’ve visited here before is that I like ethnic food. A lot. Herbs and spices can change everything. The most mundane foods (like chicken and lentils, for example) become something really special when seasoned with exotic spices. Anyhow, I made these for staff lunch today and served it with saffron-infused brown rice…delicious. There is a simple curry recipe at the bottom of this post but a good quality store-bought brand would be fine…or use your own flavor combination. Enjoy.

Tandoori Chicken Stir-Fry

Makes 4 servings

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup plain yogurt

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 small onion, sliced

4 boneless chicken breasts, sliced

oil for sauteing

black sesame seeds for garnish

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl (except the oil for sauteing and the black sesame seeds) and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for one hour. Heat a small amount of oil over high heat in a large heavy skillet (cast iron works great). When to oil is hot, add the marinated chicken in a single layer. Allow the chicken to cook for a minute before stirring, Then gently stir the chicken and cook for another 5 or 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and thoroughly cooked. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with black sesame seeds.

Curried Red Lentils with Potatoes and Peas

Makes 4-6 servings

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 small onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons curry powder

1½ cups red lentils

3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned

½ teaspoon salt

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

½ cup peas

Heat the oil in a heavy sauce-pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and green pepper and saute for a couple minutes, then add the garlic and saute a minute longer. Stir in the curry and cook it for a minute or two, and then stir in the lentils, broth, tomatoes, and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil then lower it to a low simmer; cook the lentils for about 30 minutes. Add the potatoes and lemon juice and simmer another 15 minutes, or until the lentils are thoroughly cooked. Stir in the peas and remove the pot from the heat. 


Simple Madras-Style Curry Powder

Makes about 1/2 cup

3 tablespoons ground cumin 

3 tablespoons quality chili powder

2 tablespoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon ground fenugreek

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon ground ginger

Mix all the spices thoroughly and store away from direct sunlight in a jar with a tight fitting lid.

Naan (yum!)

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This is a very simple recipe for classic Indian naan bread. It can be baked in an oven or on top of the stove. I used the stove-top method for these (as pictured below). This is so easy to make and really delicious.You can cut the recipe in half (or double it if you like), and the breads freeze well also. Used as an accompaniment to a meal, a utensil, or spread with oil, spices, and salt and eaten alone, these breads are addicting.


Naan Bread

Makes 8-12 small loaves

1 ¼ cups water

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ tablespoons instant yeast, divided

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

4-5 cups bread flour

Combine the water, yeast, and whole wheat flour in the bowl of an electric mixer, stir just to combine, then allow it to rest and ferment for at least thirty minutes. Add the remaining yeast, the melted butter, yogurt, sugar, and sea salt to the bowl. Fit the mixer with a dough hook and operate on low speed for a minute or so, just to combine the ingredients. Then add 4 cups of bread flour to the bowl and run the mixer on medium speed. If the dough seems too sticky add additional flour. Knead the dough on medium for 6-8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover it, and allow it to rise and ferment at room temperature for about an hour. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it, and shape it into small bowls; allow these to rest for just a couple minutes. Roll the loaves out on a floured surface and set aside (do not stack them). The bread can be cooked in the oven or on the stove-top. If cooking in an oven, preheat it to 500F with a heavy un-greased sheet pan inside. If on a stove-top, preheat a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) on medium high heat. If baking in the oven, cook a few loaves at a time (as many as your pan will accommodate and make sure the oven is hot). They will cook quickly (a few minutes) and there is no need to turn them. If cooking on the stove-top cook a couple breads at a time (as many as your pan will accommodate without overlapping and make sure the skillet is hot). The breads will cook quickly; turn them once. Repeat the process until all of the breads are cooked; transferring them to a wire rack or clean towel to cool. 

Basmati Rice with Saffron…

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Here is another very easy but delicious rice dish. And again–as I say with most my recipes–this is a guide and not carved in stone…interchange ingredients as you like them; it is the method that is important. Speaking of variations, the difference between the recipe pictured and the one typed below is that below there are raisins in the recipe whereas the one pictured has carrots. Both are equally delicious, but just variations. The recipe typed below was featured in this cookbook somewhat recently. It’s a good book featuring local Buffalo chefs, I just wish they would have used a different photo of me (no kidding). Anyhow, this is a very easy recipe and really delicious.

Basmati Pilaf with Almonds and Raisins

Makes about 6 cups


2 tablespoons clarified butter

1/2 cup diced onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon saffron threads

1 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups Basmati rice or other long grain rice

3 1/2  cups hot chicken broth

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup toasted almonds

Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion and garlic; sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the saffron, salt, and pepper; sauté another minute. Stir in the rice and broth. Cover the pot and for 15 minutes. Remove the rice from the stove and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Stir in the raisins and toast­ed almonds.


Urban Simplicity.