Monthly Archives: July 2013

Kala Chana

Kala Chana

Chickpeas are one of the unsung heroes of the legume world. (Lentils are the other). Not too terribly exciting, they demurely sit in many a pantry patiently waiting their turn. Often they are destined for hummus, other times in soups and stews. For those lucky few chickpeas, they are presented to the adventurous as besan, and maybe will end up being delicious socca or Burmese tofu. I have been known to make desserts out of them as well 🙂 These beans are taken for granted, often relegated to the sidelines. This doesn’t have to be the case! Enter Kala Chana, the venue for chickpeas to strut their stuff and shine.

Kala chana are actually black chickpeas, which are smaller and more robust than the more common garbanzo bean. I hunted them down in an Indian market, and immediately fell in love. Make no mistake – they’re still a chickpea, but with more texture and thus more presence. They also fool the eyes into thinking they’re more exotic than the garbanzo – think a black bean in garbanzo clothing! To truly appreciate this bean, I first set about finding a recipe that would really let it shine. Using the Internet, my standard Chana Masala recipe, and various other influences, I created this delicious Indian curry that is sure to satisfy all chickpea lovers out there. And convert all the ‘chickpea haters’. There’s more to the chickpea than hummus and a throw in!

This Kala Chana is a spicy Indian curry with a tomato puree base. I love using fresh tomatoes, green chilies, garlic, and onions and pureeing them first to create the curry sauce. I have also used canned tomatoes in the past, with fantastic results. The resulting puree is so fragrant you know it’ll be delicious. The tempering for this dish is cumin-seed based, with some asafoetida for sourness, coriander and turmeric for ‘curry spice’, and garam masala for a more savory taste. The green chilis and the red chili powder pack a punch, making the final product craveable. The besan (double chickpea action!) acts like a thickener, making the curry sauce have a bit more creaminess and ‘oomph’. I served it over greens, but you can be more traditional and serve it with rice and/or your flatbread of choice (Roti or naan make for great scooping vessels!). Hands down this is one of my favourite curry recipes, and one that I will keep going back to time and time again. All hail the chickpea!

 

Kala Chana

1 cup kala chana (dry) *Note: if you don’t have kala chana, substitute dried chickpeas. Just as tasty!

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 green chilis, chopped

1 tbsp. ginger, minced

1 tbsp. garlic, minced

1 tsp. canola oil

1 tsp. cumin seeds

⅛ tsp. asafoetida (hing)

1 tbsp. besan (chickpea flour)

1 tbsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. red chili powder

4 cups water + as needed

salt, to taste

fresh cilantro, chopped

 

Directions:

1) Soak kala chana overnight. Rinse and cook until al-dente.

2) In food processor, puree tomatoes, chilis, onion, and garlic.

3) In large pot heat oil on medium-high. Add cumin seeds and sauté until start to sizzle.

4) Add asafoetida and besan. Stir continuously and cook until besan light brown and toasted

5) Add coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and chili powder. Stir.

6) Add tomato puree. Stir and bring to a boil. Let cook until most moisture gone and starts to darken.

7) Add cooked kala chana, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, let simmer 20-30min.

8) Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and flatbread of choice.

 


Mixed Grain Beet Pesto Risotto

Mixed Grain Beet Pesto Risotto

Sometimes I wonder if too much of the Food Network is a bad thing. And then creativity inspires me to create this dish, which on paper looks odd and disjointed at best, but in the mouth is creamy and delicious and bursting with “Summer is Here!” flavour. My first CSA share was a bit of a mishmash, and came with lots of bits and bobs – enough to not want to eat them all raw in salads, but not enough to make a dish highlighting the ingredients. As this summer I am addicted to re-runs of Top Chef and Chopped, I thought that I’d host my own little culinary challenge with my basket. The ingredients:

– Beets (3 small)

– Garlic Scrapes

– Basil

– Cilantro

– Beans

– Radish

– Kale

Granted, all of them could work well together in a myriad of ways – the challenge was the quantity! Tasters of each, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

I adore mixed grains in a risotto/pilaf dish. Because each grain has a slightly different cooking time, the result is a chewy, creamy mouthful of goodness. This dish started out as a pilaf, but when I added the pesto mixture there was too much liquid, so it became a risotto. Quite possibly the easiest risotto ever – no stirring required! (Take that, Tom Colicchio). To the CSA offerings I added cauliflower and red onion – that’s it! The radishes were going to be incorporated, but I ate them all before the dish was born. For good measure, the radish greens made it in though. Radish greens are like dandelion greens, and quite bitter – I am addicted.

I had pre-roasted the beets as an experiment, but I don’t know if it’s worth it. By all means – go ahead if it’s cool enough to turn the oven on. I thought that the roasting quality got lost in the bright risotto, and the pre-cooked beets turned the risotto purple quite quickly. I think next time what I’ll do is leave the beets raw, and grate them on top for garnish. This would make the beet flavour more prominent, add another crunch level, and *hopefully* decrease the beet stain of the risotto!

Regardless, this dish is exceptional. Fancy enough to serve to company, delicious and decadent, I give myself a score of 10! Now where’s the Chopped auditions …

 

Mixed Grain Beet Pesto Risotto

¼ cup barley

½ cup buckwheat

½ cup rice

½ cup wild rice

½ cup red onion, sliced into quarters

¼ tsp. dried thyme

1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (approx. 4½ cups)

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil (if short, make up difference with fresh cilantro)

1½ tsp. garlic, minced (or 3 garlic scrapes, chopped)

1¼ cup green beans, cut in 1” pieces

½ cup roasted beets, cut into wedges*

1½ cup fresh kale

salt, pepper to taste

*To roast beets, wash beets and place whole in tinfoil packet. Roast at 375dF for 40min-1h, or until just tender.

 

Directions:

1) In large pot, sauté onion in ¼ cup water until translucent, approx. 5min.

2) Add barley, buckwheat, rice, wild rice, and 6 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and simmer approx. 25min., stirring occasionally.

3) In large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add thyme and cauliflower. Cover and cook until cauliflower tender, approx. 10min.

4) Remove cauliflower from heat and let cool slightly. Puree contents of cauliflower pot with basil and garlic until silky smooth.

5) Add cauliflower mixture to grains. Stir.

6) Add beans to mixture. Stir, cover, and let simmer approx. 5min., or until beans just tender.

7) Add beets, kale. Stir.

8) Adjust for seasonings. Turn off heat and let sit 10min.

9) Stir and serve!

 


Masala Two Ways: Edamame Masala and Jackfruit Masala

Edamame Masala: The edamame adds protein, and they look like precious gems nestled in the curry!

Edamame Masala: The edamame adds protein, and they look like precious gems nestled in the curry!

Jackfruit Masala: More exotic with the jackfruit, but just as delicious!

Jackfruit Masala: More exotic with the jackfruit, but just as delicious!

I am forever amazed and astounded at the sheer volume and variety of Indian curries. I tend to love the tomato-based, fiery curry versions and will only occasionally stray to the coconut-based. Tomato curries are generally from Northern India, while their coconut cousins tend to be from the South. One such tomato curry that recently piqued my interest is the Masala curry. I tried to find ‘rules’ as to what makes the Masala curry a ‘Masala’, but could find no general guidelines. Thus, I created two versions of a Masala – one with edamame (to replace the peas) and one with jackfruit (because experimenting with jackfruit is delicious! Cases in point: Thai Jackfruit Curry and Ethiopian Jackfruit W’et).

The recipe formula is below. For the Edamame Masala I used Edamame, and for the Jackfruit Masala I replaced the edamame with one 19oz. can young jackfruit (in brine). I also omitted the mushrooms, because I used the last of them in the Edamame Masala. Being an engineer, I did a side-by-side comparpison to evaluate the results. First, the flavour profile. As the base of the Masala did not change between the two, the final taste didn’t change as well. The spice mix is subtly spicy, but with a tangy kick at the end from the asofetida. The Sucanet takes the edge off the spice, but the curry doesn’t taste sweet at all – a relief to this spice lover! The garam masala adds a savoury element to the curry, and the veggies and greens soak up the flavour wonderfully. The real difference (obviously) is in the edamame/jackfruit. While I prefer the edamame for the protein profile, it’s the jackfruit version that really shines. The jackfruit and the eggplant lend some texture to the dish, and the jackfruit gets saturated with all that lovely spice during the simmer. The results of my taste test? I love them both! I leave it up to you to choose between the two – or even your own version! The curry sauce is worth making regardless of the added veggies, as a different tomato curry offering that is subtly spicy, tangy, and savoury – a delectable curry sure to please!

Masala Curry

1 (16oz.) bag frozen edamame, thawed (or 1 (19oz.) can young jackfruit (in brine), drained and cut into bite-sized pieces)

1 (28oz.) can diced tomatoes, or 2 cups diced

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. red chili powder

1 tbsp. ginger, minced

½ tsp. ground coriander

2 green chilis, minced

1 tsp. canola oil

½ tsp. cumin seeds

Pinch of asafetida (hing)

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp. grounder coriander

½ tsp. paprika

¼ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. Sucanet

1 lb. eggplant, cubed

1 green bell pepper, cubed

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 small zucchini, cut into ½ moons

4 cups greens, chiffonade

2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

¼ tsp. garam masala

Directions:

1) In food processor, puree tomatoes, salt chili powder, ginger, ½ tsp. ground coriander, and green chilis

2) In large pot, heat oil on medium-high and add cumin seeds. Sauté until seeds begin to crack.

3) Add asafetida and bay leaves. Stir and sauté approx. 30s.

4) Add tomato puree and remaining spiced. Stir and bring to a simmer.

5) Add eggplant, edamame, and water to adjust for thickness. Simmer approx. 5 min.

6) Add bell pepper, mushrooms, and zucchini. Simmer until eggplant is tender, approx. 15min.

7) Add greens, cilantro, and garam masala. Stir and cover. Cook until greens bright green and wilted, approx. 2min.

8) Remove from heat and let sit covered approx. 2 min.

9) Serve with naan, roti, and/or rice.


Khao Soi Thai Curry

Khao Soi Thai Curry

Khao Soi Thai Curry is a dish that hails from Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is completely different from all other Thai curries I have tried in the past, and completely delicious. Traditionally it is a noodle dish, with a spicy coconut-based curry sauce drenching the noodles. With some crunchy noodles to top off the dish. What intrigued me about this dish was the use of picked sour mustard greens, which I picked up at my local grocery store because I had never heard of them. The other curiosity was the method of the curry paste. Instead of the traditional ginger/lemongrass/herbs/fresh chilies, this one uses roasted dried red chillies ground into a paste with some ginger, shallot, garlic, coriander, and turmeric. I had only seen that technique before with Indian curries, so I knew I had to try this out!

I took inspiration from this recipe found here: Herbivoracious – Khao Soi Thai Curry Noodles. However, I was more in the mood for a vegetable based curry, so I made some significant additions to the recipe. A brief moment of panic near the end of my creation – I had forgotten about the noodles! The dish as I made it however was superb. The curry paste has so much flavour – it definitely packs a wallop even for this spice lover! The vegetables were a lovely counter balance to the tofu, giving the dish different textures. For serving, I chiffonade the picked sour mustard greens and added them to the curry pot. Their tang added that extra dimension to the curry sauce, making it a well-rounded bowl of bliss. Unique and different, this curry is definitely a go-to recipe in the future. Maybe next time I’ll even remember the noodles!

Khao Soi Thai Curry

Curry Paste:

5 large, whole dried red chilis (pasilla, ancho, New Mexico), stemmed

½ cup shallot, diced

2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

½ tsp. garlic, minced

½ tsp. coriander seeds

1 tsp. turmeric

2 tsp. garam masala

Directions:

1) In large pot (save on dishes!) dry roast chilis on medium for 2min.

2) Add shallot, ginger, and garlic. Stir continuously and cook until chilis very fragrant

3) Add coriander, turmeric, and garam masala. Stir to combine.

4) Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

5) Puree mixture in blender with ¼ cup water until thick paste forms. *NOTE* This mixture stained my blender. To let it rest, I highly suggest pouring it into a bowl. Unless you don’t mind turmeric-stained blenders 🙂

Curry:

3 (13.8oz.) cans coconut milk (5¼ cups) OR almond milk

¼ cup light soy sauce

2 tsp. Sucanet

1 (454g.) package firm tofu, cut into ½” cubes

Salt, to taste

1 cup (+) water

Juice of 4 limes

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 cup Chinese pickled mustard greens OR 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage tossed in ¼ cup white vinegar

Optional additional vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, green beans, asparagus, bok choy (or other Asian greens), cherry tomatoes

Version depicted above: 2 chinese eggplants, cut into ½” moons

2 small zucchini, cut into ½” moons

1 cup cherry tomatoes

4 cups fresh spinach

Directions:

1) In large pot pour 1 can coconut milk (1¾ cup). Simmer on medium until milk begins to separate

2) Stir in half of the curry paste, soy sauce, and Sucanet. Simmer until thick enough to coat back of spoon, approx. 10min.

3) Add tofu and optional vegetables. Simmer 10min.

4) Add remaining chili paste, coconut milk, and water. Simmer approx. 5min.

5) Add lime juice, cilantro, and Chinese picked mustard greens. Stir and remove from heat.

6) Serve with noodles.


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