September 24, 2006

Indian Redux

On friday we had pizza with Dan and Carmen, so I had to come up with something else to cook. Emily has been hinting that she wanted stuffed Naan so I decided to make one of those Southern Indian dipping sauces for it.

Tonight, I made the meat stuffed Naan, some paneer (fresh cheese) stuffed Naan, mango chutney, raita, rice, and Murgh Korma (a chicken curry). I hadn't made the cheese or the chicken dish before. Emily has declared the Korma to be her new favorite Indian dish, but that still may be second to the stuffed Naan. :)

Rasam (lentil soup)

This a nice lentil/tomato soup that can be served it's own with some cilantro and a dollop of sour cream or used as a dipping sauce for Naan.
1/4 cup tanish lentils (tuar dal)
1/4 cup red lentils (masoor dal)
4-5 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp tamarind extract
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp hing (aka asafoetida - I left it out)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp fennugreek seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bunch cilantro (for garnish)
I usually use chunks of chicken, with bone in, and skin removed, cut into chunks. (Thighs and legs hacked in half, to get some of the marrow flavor into the sauce.)

Cook the lentils in water. Roast and grind the cumin and mustard seeds. Grind the fennugreek and fennel. Add the tomatoes and spices. Simmer for a while.

If you can get it, add 1/2 tsp of hing and a handful of curry leaves.

Adjust the seasoning with salt, tamarind extract, and garam masala.

To serve as a soup, garnish with cilantro, yogurt or sour cream, and maybe a squeeze of lime juice. For a dipping sauce, optionally puree the rasam.

Paneer Cheese
1 quart milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
Simmer the milk for about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice a little at time, while stirring, until the curds separate from the whey. Pour into a clean tea towel in a collander. Season to taste. Tie up the towel and hang it to drain for 10 min or so. Press it under a weight for an hour or so and then unwrap and refrigerate.

Murgh Korma

Adapted from Quick and Easy Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey.
1.5 pounds chicken pieces (with or without bones)
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
2 in cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
3 cloves
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 small tomatoes
1 in piece of ginger
5-6 cloves garlic
1 tbsp heavy cream
1 pinch saffron (optional)
garam masala
Mix the yogurt with the dry spices (corriander, ground cumin, and chili powder). Lightly whip the yogurt until it's smooth and use it to marinade the chicken. (From a half hour to 3 hours.)

Heat the cream in a microwave and add the saffron. (Be careful not to overheat or it will boil over.)

Mince the garlic and ginger and add a tablespoon of water.

Put the oil on high heat. Add the whole spices (cardamom, cloves, cumin, cinnamon, bay leaf) and fry for 15 seconds or so. Add the onions and cook until they brown a bit. Add the garlic/ginger paste and fry for 30 sec or so. Add the tomatoes and fry. Add the chicken, its marinade, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, turning the chicken occasionally.

Uncover, add the cream mixture, and cook on high for 8 minutes or so, while stirring, until the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and garam masala.

Dan's Birthday (observed)

Last night we celebrated Dan's birthday. We had dinner at the blue plate, which serves somewhat american food from high quality, local ingredients. Well, the reviews say american. Beef Carpaccio was on the menu and most of us had the Duck Confit, but there was a Meatloaf on the menu, which Dan had. As usual Emily and I split all of our dishes - two appetizers and an entree, so we could get some variety without having too much food. The confit came with this cute little spherical red peppers that were halfway between pepperonicini and red bell peppers. Unfortunately I don't remember their name. (They were just on Bobby Flay - cherry peppers). Afterwards, we had cake from Citizen Cake and opened gifts.

September 11, 2006

Indian Night

Last Sunday we had Indian food. Drewes brothers didn't have any appropriate cuts of lamb on hand, so I used beef instead of lamb. We invited Dan and Carmen to join us, and played a board game afterwards. Instead of the usual dishes, I made Saag Ghosht, Naan stuffed with ground meat, and a couple of dipping sauces for the Naan.

Saag Gosht
From Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking.
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
6-7 cloves
2 bay leaves
6 cardamom pods
6 oz onions, finely chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 in cube of ginger, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp corriander, ground
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)
2 tsp salt
5 tbsp yogurt, beaten
2 lb fresh spinach, finely chopped (or frozen)
2 lb lamb shoulder in 1in cubes (or beef chuck)
1/4 tsp garam masala

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the whole spices. Stir for a few seconds until they start to darken and become fragrant. Add the onions, and cook until they start to brown (5 minutes or so). Add the garlic and ginger and cook for half a minute. Add the cumin, corriander, cayenne. Add the meat and 1 tsp of salt. Cook for about a minute while stirring. Then add the yogurt, one tablespoon at a time. Stir in each tablespoon before adding the next. Add the spinach and another teaspoon of salt. Stir until the spinach wilts down. Cover tightly, turn the heat to low and simmer for about an hour and a half (two hours for beef) - until the meat is tender.

Remove the lid, turn the heat up to medium and simmer off most of the liquid. You should have a thick green sauce.

Add the garam masala, season to taste and serve.


Also from Indian Cooking. I stuffed it with the keema below and used Raita and Green Mango Chutney for dipping.
150 mL warm milk
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried active yeast
1 lb flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp oil
150 mL yogurt
1 large egg lightly beaten
Mix the milk, 1 tsp of sugar, and yeast in a bowl. Let it sit until it starts to get fizzy.
Put the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Add 1 tsp sugar, the yeast mixture, the oil, yogurt and egg. Mix, knead, and form int a ball. Let it raise for an hour. Punch it down, roll into a tube, and cut into 6 balls.

Roll out each ball into a thin flat loaf (think pizza dough) and cook it in the oven. Jaffrey suggests your heaviest baking pan on the highest temperature. I used a pizza stone the first time I made this. This time, I used the flat side of a cast iron grill pan underneath a broiler. (If you have room, you could use the bottom of a large cast iron skillet.) Put the bread on the preheated surface, and cook until it turns golden brown. (It should take a few minutes, but keep an eye on it.)

To make the stuffed naan make an hole in the ball of dough and add a couple of tablespoons of the filling. Close up the hole, forming into a ball again, and roll out the bread as flat as you can get it without losing the filling.

This is the stuffing for the naan. It is an original recipe following Indian techniques. I ground the beef myself with a food processor. If you choose to do this, pulse it and be careful not to go too far, or you'll get beef paste.
1/2 lb ground lamb (or beef chuck)
1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
2 tsp minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Put a skillet on medium-high heat. Add some oil and the onion and cook until they start to brown. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so. Add the dry spices and meat and cook. Season to taste with salt, pepper, cumin seeds, and cayenne. (This is designed to be a little spicy and earthy, to be balanced by the dipping sauces.)


This is adapted from Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey.
1 cup yogurt
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 handful mint, finely chopped
1/2 English cucumber, grated
Wisk the yogurt to lighten it up a bit, then wisk in the rest of the ingredients. Adjust the seasoning to taste. (The cayenne and cumin should be in the background, just a hint of bite and earthiness to accent the mint/yogurt.)

Fresh Green Mango Chutney

This recipe was adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's book, Quick and Easy Indian Cooking.
1 lb green mango, diced
1-2 jalapeƱos, minced
1" piece of fresh ginger, minced.
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp fennugreek seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp kalonji seeds (omitted - I don't know what they are)
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2-3 tbsp sugar
Gind the seeds, chuck everything into a food processor. (I seeded the chilis, but left the membrane). Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Indian Rice

This also is my own recipe, and it varies each time I make it. Here is what I made last night.
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
4 cloves
5 peppercorns
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 cup rice
1 1/2 cups water
Heat the butter and oil on medium or medium high heat, being careful not to burn the butter. (Don't worry if it browns a little.) Fry the whole spiced for about 30 seconds or so. They should make popping noises and smell fragrant. Add the rice and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the liquid and turmeric. Bring to a simmer. Give the pot one stir, cover and turn the heat to low. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off. Wait 5 minutes before removing the cover.

Garam Masala
This one also comes from Indian Cooking. You can buy it from a store, but it will not be as good. Garam Masala is frequently added to Indian dishes at the end of cooking.
1 tbsp cardamom
2" cinnamon
1 tsp black cumin seeds
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 nut nutmeg, grated
Grind in a spice grinder or mortar/pestle. Store in an airtight spice jar.

September 10, 2006

Catch up

It's been a couple of weeks since the previous post. In the meantime, I've moved my blog over to blogger so people can actually reply to my posts. My cooking exploits for the last few weeks:
The 26th and 27th marked a weekend of laying in supplies. In addition to making the Roast tenderloin and apricot/bourbon pork chops, I put together some cioppino stew base; made some homemade chicken broth and a simple red mole sauce out of it; and I made a batch of pizza crusts for Emily.

The next friday, we made the Cioppino for Dan and Carmen, and on the 8th I made my first attempt at seafood paella. It turned out well, but I didn't use enough liquid, so I had to add some halfway through and adjust the cooking accordingly. I used mussels, clams, squid, and chorizo for the Paella. The sofrito was tomatoes, red bell pepper, onions, etc, and there was a bit of white wine in there somewhere.

I couldn't bring myself to buying a Paella pan - they're cheap, but tricky to heat evenly; so I bought a nice, but much more expensive 12" All-Clad skillet to use instead. (It is enjoyable to cook with, since I got it, I also made chicken cacciatora and Fregula con Cocciola. For a lid, I either make a cartouche of wax paper or use the le Creuset lid, which happens to fit slightly below the top of the pan. I will post a recipe the next time I cook it, but I got the general technique from an article from Fine Cooking's web site. It is the best article I could find on the web, explaining the general philosophy, providing a recipe, and variations. (Don't miss the second page and a couple of links with details.)