Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Kitchen of Indian Delights

So little time for cooking these days, what with the crazy hours I've been working at the hospital, but somehow I manage...
Before rediscovering some of the Indian recipes that I love but haven't made in a while, I had one more go at gyros on Tuesday, this time using mushrooms.   Since I ran out of Greek seasoning mix the last time I made gyros, I had to whip out my Greek cookbook and figure out an approximation.  It turned out to be as simple as salt, pepper, garlic, coriander and finely chopped onion.  The recipe in the book also called for a little bit of allspice and savory, which I don't have, but I found that the mushrooms did just as well with the seasonings I did have.

Yesterday (my only day off this week, boo) I made a couple of Indian dishes in hopes of getting through the next couple of days on leftovers.  One was a batch of Bell Pepper and Tomato Rice with Cashews, and the other was Zucchini Kootu.  Both recipes are in Healthy South Indian Cooking (see Books, Links, Blogs for biblio reference) and are totally vegan.  Recipes follow this colorful, texturific photo!

Bell Pepper and Tomato Rice with Cashews:
1 cup basmati rice (brown rice works too)
5 oz. frozen lima beans
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp canola oil
2 small pieces of cinnamon stick (or just sprinkle on some ground cinnamon)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 cup onion, sliced lengthwise
1 cup tomato, diced
1 green chili pepper, finely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped green bell peppers
1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cashew halves/pieces

Cook whatever rice you're using according to the package instructions and let cool for 15 minutes so that it's not sticky when you stir in the rest.

Cook the lima beans in just enough water to cover and 1/4 tsp turmeric until they are tender (10 minutes?), then drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a frying pan or large saucepan over medium heat.  When oil is hot, add the cinnamon, bay leaf, fennel and cumin.  Brown briefly, just enough to bring out their aroma, then add the onion, tomato and chili and saute for one minute.

Add the bell pepper, lima beans and remaining turmeric and mix well.  Cook, covered, over medium heat until bell pepper starts to become tender (3 minutes?).  Stir in the curry powder and salt.

Add cooked rice to the mixture and stir until blended.  Stir in cashew halves and serve.

Zucchini Kootu:
1/2 cup toor dal
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp canola oil
4 to 6 curry leaves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 green chili pepper, chopped
3 cups diced zucchini
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp powdered coconut

Boil two cups of water and add toor dal and 1/4 tsp turmeric.  Reduce heat and cook until dal mashes easily with a fork (about 30 minutes; no need to mash it all, just make sure it's cooked to a "creamy" consistency).  Add water as needed until the dal is done cooking.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  When it's hot, but not smoking, add asafoetida and curry leaves.  (This is very important when using asafoetida, because if it's added to a pan that's too hot, it could smoke you out of your kitchen.  Take it from someone who learned the hard way.)

Add mustard seeds and urad dal and cook, covered, until the mustard seeds pop and urad dal is golden.

Add onion, chili pepper and the remaining turmeric and stir.  Add the zucchini and ginger and blend well with the other ingredients.

Add the toor dal plus 1/2 cup of warm water (any water leftover from the cooking is fine), cumin and salt.  Stir well, cover and cook until the zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the coconut powder, stir and remove from heat.

I was glad that the zucchini dish was relatively mild when I served it last night, because it seemed like a heavy seasoning blend might have clashed with that of the rice dish.  However, when I had the leftover zucchini for lunch today as a pita filling, it seemed a little bland all by itself.  The simple solution?  Stir in a little salt and cayenne pepper before nuking.  Easy, delicious lunch, and I still have some of the rice for when I get home from work tonight!

If you don't hear from me again before the weekend's over, have a safe and happy 4th!

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