Sunday, February 07, 2010

Spicy Nights

Chickpea and Okra Curry, originally uploaded by Lisa Fagg.

It's been quite a while since my last post but that doesn't mean that my kitchen has been idle! Not at all, in fact, we have been cooking up a storm and I haven't had time to post! Rather than try and catch up with my posts, I'll start again - with last night's dinner...

Steve and I have been on a 'Curry Kick' lately. Long, cold winter nights benefit from the warm and sultry spices from the East. Our 3 masala dabbas are almost always in use as we anoint various dishes with different combinations of spices, whole and ground. Warm and exotic smells waft through the house - permeating my clothing and hair. Chillis, fresh coriander and curry leaves have become staples in our larder. It's an adventure and there's almost no food that isn't improved by the additions of cumin, turmeric and chilli powder.

Last month we were given some chat masala spices to try cooking with by our friends, Rupak and Kinnary who'd brought some back from their holiday over the Christmas break. The unassuming little boxes of masala, with brand names like 'Catch' and 'Tasty Treat' now sat on the shelf and even seemed to taunt me; I was intimidated by them! Every so often, Kinnary emailed me a recipe to use the spices in and Rupak would subsequently ask me if I had tried them yet. Friday I promised I would use them. (I lied, as it turns out - but more about that later!)

Yesterday I surveyed my vegetable boxes. Yet another swede (bringing the total to 2); I knew exactly one thing to do with swede - mash them up with carrots and butter. While it is a delicious dish, I didn't think it would go particularly well with my rice and dal. Right beside the swedes was a forlorn-looking butternut squash that hadn't made the cut when I cooked its younger, fresher brother in a pumpkin and coconut curry two weeks ago. The squash was beginning to show signs of aging and would need to be cooked. So I trawled the web, looking for help. I didn't find any recipes for swede curry but I found many for turnips which I have modified to produce what I'll call Swede & Pumkin Curry.

My larder also contains a growing collection of pulses (lentils). I've been experimenting with different lentils and different tarkas or seasonings. This time I tried making a Mixed Dal using three different dals; moong dal, toor daal and chana dal.

But now, back to the chickpea curry: we're in this thing together, Steve and I, so I asked him to cook it! We had a very busy kitchen last night with a mixed dal, a chickpea dish, rice and the swede curry all bubbling merrily on the stove. Steve's version of the chickpea dish was wonderful and was enhanced by the addition of baby okra, a vegetable we have taken to adding to various dishes as we to do with garden peas. The okra adds a wonderful texture (2 textures, really; the fuzzy somewhat resistant outer coat which gives way to the softer seeds on the inside) and flavour to the mix:

Recipe for Chick peas

From Kinnary Shah

One small finely chopped onion
Chopped tomatoes (half tin)
1 bay leaf (divided into half)
2-1/2 tbsp of Chole masala
One tin of Chick peas
1 cup frozen okra
1/2 tsp of Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp of ginger and garlic paste. (separately or together)
Salt to taste
Coriander for garnish (Fresh)
3 tbsp of oil
Small green Chile, cut from middle (optional)

1. Add oil in the pan, to it add cumin seeds, when the seed become brown add chopped onion, ginger garlic paste, bay leaf. (and Chile)

2. When onion gets light brown, add chopped tomatoes and to it add chole masala and salt, and stir till oil separates out (approx. 10 min).

3. Then add chick peas, okra and half cup of water and cover the pan.

4. Let it boil for 10 mins or till the gravy becomes thick (stir occasionally). If the water dries out, then add little water and let it boil.

5. Add coriander and serve...

Can be eaten with rice, or pullao.

1 comment:

Carl said...

My wife and I enjoy the recipes you post and noticed you are from Cambridge. My wife (Babs King) and I moved here this past summer and are opening a Pilates studio (Juice Pilates) later in March. We’d like to set you up with a free class if you’re interested in exchange for a link on your blog. Babs is a certified Reformer and Mat Pilates instructor can adjust the session to your individual needs. You can reach her at , I’m sure she’d love to hear from you. Thanks and have a great day.


*Sorry if this comes off as spam but I did not see an email address listed to contact you