Tag Archives: Indian Cuisine

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

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.

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

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!)

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. 

Naan (yum!)

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…

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.

Basmati Rice with Saffron…

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.

Curried Split Pea Soup!

Ok, so here’s another recipe that is super easy, really delicious, nutritious, and also satisfying in a cold day. Yellow Split pea soup with curry. The basic recipe is below but you can also add or subtract to it as you like (it’s equally good without curry, for example, but I happen to like the spice). Tonight, in addition to the ingredients listed in the recipe I also added a diced green pepper, a diced tomato, and a bit of tandoori spice. The is also good if mad with red or green lentils rather than split peas. If the recipe is too large cut it in half; this soup freezes well also.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Curry and Caramelized Onions

Makes about 3 quarts

Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil or clarified butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add a diced onion and cook it—stirring frequently—for about five minutes, or until it start to brown, then stir in 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute or so. Lower the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons (or more) of your favorite curry powder, and add any of your other favorite spices as well (such as extra cumin, turmeric, coriander, or chilies; all of which should be in the curry powder already). Stir the spices for a minute or so in the hot fat to bring out their flavors, then stir in 3 cups of yellow split peas and about 10 cups of chicken broth (if you want to keep this vegetarian use vegetable broth). Season the soup with a teaspoon of kosher salt (being careful if you are using canned broth which is already salted) and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Allow the soup to boil for a minute then turn it down to a simmer. Cook the soup for about an hour—stirring it frequently—and add more liquid if it becomes too thick. Just before removing it from the heat stir in about 1/4 cup of fresh lemon or lime juice and—if you have it on hand and enjoy it’s flavor—also stir in a handful of chopped cilantro.

The Spice is Right (two super flavorful and delicious recipes)…

Spices really are amazing aren’t they? Not only are some used for food preservation and medicinal purposes (not to mention preventative medicine) they also make even the blandest foods taste really incredible; these recipes are two examples of this. And both of these recipes, while delicious hot from the oven or skillet, are equally delicious at room temperature or even cold from the fridge. The tofu, for example, when chilled makes a great meat alternative on sandwiches.

Tandoori-Style Tofu

Serves 4 

1 pound extra-firm tofu
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices ginger, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded
½ small onion, diced

3 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Black sesame seeds to garnish (optional) 

Remove the tofu from its package and drain it. Set the tofu on a plate with 2 or 3 plates on top of it, gently squeezing out some of it’s moisture. Leave the tofu to drain for 10-15 minutes. Combing all the remaining ingredients except the sesame seeds in a food processor or blender (yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, onion, curry, and salt), and process until smooth. Pour the marinade into a shallow pan. Slice the tofu about ½ inch thick (and crosswise if you would like smaller pieces). Lay the tofu slices in the marinade, turning them to coat all sides. Marinate the tofu for ,30-60 minutes. Preheat and oven to 350F. Transfer the tofu to a baking sheet that is fitted with a wire rack, leaving some of the marinade on the tofu. Sprinkle the tofu with black sesame seeds and bake it in the preheated oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the tofu begins to brown at its edges. This is delicious straight from the oven, at room temperature, or chilled as a snack or sandwich ingredient.
 

Aloo Gobi

(Potatoes, Cauliflower, and Peas)

Serves 4 

¼ cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
3 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
1 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.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#507)

A new kitchen sink faucet, a roll of plumber’s tape, 3 types of batteries (AA, AAA, and 9v), 2 faucet connector tubes (or whatever they’re called), a new basin wrench (which made the job so much easier), two new packs of bungee cords (yes, bungee cords are holding down the new bungee cords), and a double order of saag paneer.

Urban Simplicity.

Mulligatawny!

Before I talk about the recipe I have to make a few other comments. You may be wondering why on earth this guy would be posting  a recipe for soup in the middle of summer, or at least early summer. Nonetheless, it’s hot outside. Well, the answer to this is twofold…one is that it was on the menu where I work (so I had to make it), but also because I really enjoy this soup. But the less obvious reason (to most, I think) is that even though spicy food is often thought of as “warming foods” for cold weather, spicy foods originate in hot climates and are naturally eaten there. Spicy foods, in fact, act as a natural air conditioner of sorts…they make you sweat which cools you off. Spicy foods are also known to stimulate the appetite, which may be lacking during steamy weather (interesting how nature takes care of us). Anyhow, mulligatawny is a curried chicken and rice soup of British-Indian origin. It is really easy to make and really delicious (it freezes well also, in the even you make too much of it). The recipe below is a basic one; when I make it for myself I add more hot pepper or a splash of hot pepper sauce. It is, without doubt, a meal in itself.

Mulligatawny
Makes about 3 quarts.
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 slices ginger, minced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
4 tablespoons flour
1 apple, diced
6 cups chicken broth
3 cups diced, cooked chicken
1/2 cup cooked white rice
Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot, add the onion, celery, carrot, and red bell pepper, sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the sugar, curry, cumin, pepper, salt, and hot pepper, sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 5 minutes over low heat while stirring. Add the apple, stir in the chicken broth and chicken; simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the rice just before serving.

Crispy Baked Tofu Marinated in Yogurt and Spices

So I have to start off with what has become a sort of mantra for my recipes on this blog…this is really easy to make and super delicious. It is so delicious, in fact, a carnivore or someone who says they do not like tofu would like this (really). It’s probably pretty good for you as well. It is great as a sandwich component or on top a salad, but it can also be eaten as is, as a sort of healthy snack.

Crispy Baked Tofu Marinated in Yogurt and Spices
1 (14 ounce) package extra firm tofu
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
Remove the tofu from its package and drain it. Place it between two plates to allow the weight of a plate (or two) to press out additional moisture. Drain the tofu again and slice it into ½ inch slices, then lay it on a baking sheet. To make the marinade, combine the yogurt, lemon, garlic curry, turmeric, hot pepper, cumin, and salt. Mix the marinade, then pour it over the tofu, gently turning it to coat all sides. Preheat an oven to 400F and allow the tofu to marinate at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Transfer the tofu to a clean baking sheet that is fitted with a wire rack (if you have one, otherwise place it directly on the baking sheet but lightly oil it first). Sprinkle the sesame seeds across the tofu and bake it for about 20-30 minutes, or until firm and slightly crisp (rotate the pan every 5 minutes or so for even cooking). This is delicious on a sandwich, salad, or as a simple snack; it can be eaten hot, room temperature, or chilled.

Urban Simplicity.

A Really Simple Five Minute Recipe To Make Cauliflower Taste Delicious

Okay, so maybe this will take more than five minutes, but not more than ten. And while I made this with cauliflower this could easily be adapted to other vegetables as well. The key factors are onion, garlic, spices, and caramelizing the vegetable. It is really easy, and this is how I made it.

Slice as much cauliflower as you’ll eat about 1/4″ thick. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat with a few tablespoons oil (I used olive oil). When the pan is hot but not smoking, add the cauliflower in a single layer; it should begin to sizzle a bit when it hits the pan; if it seems too hot reduce the heat. While the cauliflower is cooking, slice a small onion. Turn the cauliflower over (it should be browned on one side) and sprinkle the onion in the pan. As the cauliflower and onion cooks, mince a clove or two of garlic and add it to the pan with a teaspoon or two of curry (or whatever spices you like) along with a pinch of kosher salt. Shake the pan to toss everything in the spices and garlic, allow it to cook for another minute, then shake the pan again. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze its juice over the cauliflower and shake the pan again. Transfer everything to a plate and eat it as a healthy snack, a component to a salad, or as a side dish (I ate it as a side to Lebanese-style lamb and brown rice; click here for recipes). The cauliflower is delicious hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

Urban Simplicity.

Sauteed and Spiced Paneer

Okay, so yest, these tasty little spicy and crispy pillows are as delicious as they look. They are sauteed cubes of homemade paneer, or Indian Cheese. Paneer is an ingredient in one of my favorite Indian dishes, Saag Paneer, or spinach and cheese (I’ll post a recipe soon). To make paneer is as easy as it gets and contains only two ingredients: milk and lemon juice (or vinegar). The recipe is below.

After the paneer is set it can be sliced or diced. To make the above recipe saute the cheese in clarified butter or vegetable oil with a pinch of salt and spices (I used sea salt, a pinch of curry, whole coriander seed, crushed hot pepper, and fresh parsley. This is a great snack or side dish, and goes really good with beer. 

Homemade Paneer
Makes 12-16 ounces of cheese

2 quarts whole milk
1/4 cup lemon juice

Place a double-layered cheese cloth over a colander and set aside. Heat the milk in a heavy pot over medium high heat until it just begins to boil, then stir in the lemon juice. Keep stirring the milk and it will begin to separate (the curds from the whey, just like in the nursery rhyme). After a minute large curds will form, pour it into the colander. Fold the cheese cloth over the cheese and transfer it to a shallow pan; discard the whey (the liquid). place another pan on top of the cheese and weight it with a can or jar of something to press it down. Refrigerate the cheese for about an hour or until chilled and firm. Remove the cheese from the cloth, slice or dice it, and use it in any recipe calling for paneer.

Urban Simplicity.

Spicy Vegetable Ragout (or a really hearty soup)

So a few things about this recipe. The first is that it is really delicious (really, really delicious). Another is that it–like most recipes that I post on this blog–can be tailored to suit your needs or cravings. I am not by any means a vegetarian–though I have flirted with the idea–but sometimes I simply do not want meat. The reason I mention this is that if you want to try this recipe but do want some sort of meat in it, nearly any would be suited for these strong spices, you could even add a heartier seafood such as shrimp. The vegetables them selves are–of course–interchangeable; I simply used what I had at hand. This ended up being pretty spicy, but it goes without saying that the spices can be toned down. Anyhow, this really hit the spot on a cold, cold day. And did I mention how delicious this is?

Spicy Vegetable Ragout
Makes about 1 gallon
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 head celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 rutabaga, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon (pinch) saffron threads
1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon whole caraway seed
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
4 small dried chilies (optional)
1 cup (6 ounces) lentils
2 quarts vegetable broth
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
6 plum tomatoes
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 lemon, sliced thin
Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, zucchini, bell pepper, and rutabaga. Stir the vegetables, then cover the pot to allow them to “sweat” for a few minutes. Stir the vegetables, then allow them to sweat another minute or so. Remove the lid and stir in the garlic and all of the spices. Cook the vegetables, garlic, and spices for a few minutes, stirring often. Add the lentils—stirring to coat them with oil and spices—then stir in the broth. Bring the ragout to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Add the potato, tomatoes, salt, and sliced lemon. Simmer the ragout for about 30-45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. If the stew becomes too thick add more liquid.

Urban Simplicity.

The Flavor of Curry…

I love the flavor of curry (heck, I love the flavor of most spices in general). I love how spices look, their aroma (how they perfume the house when you cook with them), but mostly I love how they taste and that they can make even the simplest foods into something really flavorful and special. Case-in-point…Curried Split Pea Soup. I enjoy traditional split pea soup (click here for a recipe) but sometimes I don’t want the meat (mainly, ham) but still want a hearty split peas soup. So I made this version. And let me say this about it: Firstly, this is so easy to make even someone who claims not to know how to cook can make it. And secondly, this is so delicious you’ll not be able to stop eating it (I ate it for the past 3 dinners…no joke). In this recipe, which is below, I used a good quality (and spicy) curry blend which I purchased from Penzys, but often–more often than not, actually–I make my own spice blend (click here for an easy homemade curry blend). Whichever you use, this is super easy to make, nutritious, and really delicious.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Curry and Caramelized Onions
Makes about 3 quarts
Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil or clarified butter in a heavy pot (I prefer cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook them—stirring frequently—for about five minutes, or until they start to brown, then stir in 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute or so. Lower the heat and stir in 2-4 tablespoons (or more) of your favorite curry powder, and add any of your other favorite spices as well (such as extra cumin, turmeric, coriander, or chilies; all of which should be in the curry powder already). Stir the spices for a minute or so in the hot fat to bring out their flavors, then stir in 3 cups of yellow split peas and about 10 cups of chicken broth (if you want to keep this vegetarian use vegetable broth). Season the soup with a teaspoon or two of kosher salt (being careful if you are using canned broth which is already salted) and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Allow the soup to boil for a minute then turn it down to a simmer. Cook the soup for about an hour—stirring it frequently—and add more liquid if it becomes too thick. Just before removing it from the heat stir in about 1/4 cup of fresh lemon or lime juice and—if you have it on hand and enjoy it’s flavor—also stir in a handful of chopped cilantro.

Basmati Rice with Salmon, Saffron, Peas, and Grape Tomatoes

This is something I made for staff lunch today. It’s really just a variation of a basic rice pilaf that includes salmon. If you prefer not to use fish (which would be a shame because this is delicious), chicken or lamb would be good substitutes but they would have to be cooked longer (in the recipe below the fish is cooked for a mere five minutes, then allowed to rest for another five). I also used chicken broth in the dish rather than fish broth; this sort of neutralizes the flavors and keeps the dish from tasting too fishy. And if you’d like to make this vegetarian/vegan simply replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth and whatever vegetables and/or soy protein you prefer (tofu or tempeh would be delicious options). Anyhow, as are most of the recipes that I post, this is really delicious, healthy, and simple to make. The recipe is below.

Basmati Rice with Salmon, Saffron, Peas, and Grape Tomatoes
Serves 4
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch saffron threads
1 tablespoon curry
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup Basmati rice
1 ¾ cups chicken broth, simmering
¼ cup lemon juice
1 pound salmon, skin and bones removed, diced
1 cup peas
1 pint grape tomatoes
Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent but not browned. Add the saffron, curry, and salt; stir for a minute to release their flavors, then add the rice and stir it to coat with the oil and seasoning. Stir in the broth and lemon juice. Bring it to a boil then lower a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer the rice for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the lid and gently lay the salmon, peas, and tomatoes on top of the rice (do not stir it). Replace the lid and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes with the lid on. Gently fold the salmon and vegetables into the rice. 

Raw Vegetable Salad with Oil-Braised Garlic and Near East Spices

This vegetable salad is so delicious it’s making my mouth water as I look at the picture; it’s also exceedingly easy to make. You can use whatever vegetables you prefer, or whatever seasonings you prefer. The recipe is below, but these are the basic steps.

Slice, chop, or shred whatever vegetables you like.
Put the vegetables in a bowl and sprinkle salt over them.
Slow-cook whole garlic cloves in olive oil.
Add spices to the pan and remove from the heat.
Stir the still-hot oil-garlic-spice mixture into the vegetables
Stir in lemon juice.

Here it is in pictures, a recipe is below.

Raw Vegetable Salad with Oil-Braised Garlic and Near East Spices
 
Makes about 12 portions, but the recipe may easliy be reduced in size.
Slice, chop, and shred enough of your favorite vegetables to feed 12 people (I used red onion, cabbage, carrot, zucchini, asparagus, red bell pepper, celery, cucumber, and green beans). Mix the vegetables together in a large bowl and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of kosher salt over them; mix the vegetables again and set aside. In a small skillet, combine 1 cup of olive oil and up to 25 whole garlic cloves (their sharpness is greatly diminished when they braise). Place the pan over low-medium heat and cook the garlic for about 20-30 minutes…it will simmer for quite a while before it begins to brown, if it browns too quickly the heat is too high. After the garlic is lightly browned and soft enough that it can be mashed with the back of a spoon, remove it from the heat. Stir into the oil-garlic mixture–while it is still hot–1 tablespoon curry, 1 tablespoon black sesame seed, 2 teaspoons crushed hot pepper, 2 teaspoons whole coriander seed, 2 teaspoons whole cumin seed, and 2 teaspoons whole mustard seed. All the spices to cook in the hot oil for about 30 seconds, stirring them gently, then pour this mixture over the raw vegetables. Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice and gently stir the salad. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Carrot, Lentil, and Brown Rice Burgers (recipe and pics)

I am far from being a vegetarian but over the years I have drastically reduced my meat consumption, and this is another example of how delicious a meatless meal can be. In the title of this post I referred to these as burgers but I made them into smaller patties for dinner and ate them with a salad. They are really easy to make and so delicious my mouth is watering looking at the photo. Keep in mind that these are on the delicate side, meaning if you make them as full sized burgers they are a bit crumbly…that’s how homemade vegetable burgers often are, it would be difficult to emulate the highly processed store-bought burgers with tons of salt and paragraph-long ingredient list. I added curry to these but any of your favorite seasonings would work (chili, cumin, and cheddar cheese, for example for a southwest flare, or basil, feta, and sun dried tomatoes for Mediterranean flavors). Anyhow, while the recipe may sound a bit complicated after reading through you’ll see it’s not. If you are attempting to go meatless permanently or for just a meal this is a simple and delicious option (did I mention they were delicious).

Carrot, Lentil, andBrown Rice Burgers
Makes about 8 small patties or 4 largeburgers
3 tablespoons canola oil, plus more forcooking the patties
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons curry
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup brown rice
½ cup brown lentils
4 cups water
1 large egg
1 slice whole wheat bread, diced withcrust removed
1 medium carrot, grated
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a smallpot. Add the onion and garlic; cook for a minute or two, then add thecurry; cook for another minute. Add the salt, rice, and lentils; stirto coat with the oil and spices, then add the water. Bring the waterto a boil then lower it to a simmer. Simmer for about 45 minute, oruntil the rice and lentils are very soft and most of the water hasbeen absorbed (add more if too much evaporates before the rice iscooked). Drain the lentils and rice, squeezing out excess liquid.Allow to cool for a few minutes; preheat an oven to 350F. Puree haveof the lentil-rice mixture in a food processor then transfer it to abowl with the remaining un-processed mix. Add the egg, diced bread,and shredded carrot. Stir until thoroughly combined and allow to restfor 5 minutes, then shape into burgers or patties. Heat a skilletwith canola oil over medium high heat and brown the patties on bothsides, then transfer to a baking sheet. Bake the patties for about 10minutes, or until cooked throughout.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#407)

Two portions of seafood and vegetable fried rice. I made this for staff lunch today and it was so good I brought a few leftovers home for dinner. To see the basic recipe being made click here (I also added curry spices to this recipe).

Urban Simplicity.

Spiced Lentil Soup

I really enjoy lentils….and I’m grateful that I do. Because not only are they super-healthy for you, they are also a great medium for all sorts of flavors and textures…and not just vegetarian recipes. Anyhow, a purveyor at work gave me a couple pounds of these lentils as a sample (pictured above)…beautiful aren’t they? I made the below soup recipe for staff lunch today…it was so good (if I do say so myself) I had a double serving. It’s also really easy to make. And while I used the above multi-colored lentils, any lentil will do…some just take longer to cook than others. The spices I used (pictured below and also listed in the recipe) are also interchangeable…add or subtract whatever suits your personal taste. And listed at the bottom of this post are a few links of other easy and  delicious lentil recipes.

Spiced Lentil Soup
Makes about 3 quarts
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 pound lentils (about a cup)
3 cups diced tomatoes
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup lemon juice
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in aheavy soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper; saute untiltranslucent but not browned. Add the garlic and saute another minute.Lower the heat and add the curry, paprika, cumin, turmeric, fennel,coriander, and salt. Stir the spices for about a minute to bring outtheir flavor, than add the lentils; stirring to coat with the oil andspices. Add the tomatoes and broth; bring the soup to a boil thenlower to a simmer. Cook the soup for about 30 minutes, then add thelemon juice. Continue to simmer the soup for another 30 minutes, oruntil the lentils are very soft. If too much liquid evaporates addmore as needed.
 For other lentil recipes on this blog follow these links: