Eggplant and Black Eyed Pea Curry

Eggplant and Black Eyed Pea Curry

I needed a break from the constant influx of zucchini this summer, and the cooler mornings have awakened the warming fall food monster in me. Pumpkins and butternut squash are just around the corner! I am not a summer person, and much prefer the cold winter landscapes. Snow, skiing, bright sunny days of -25dC … bliss. To celebrate the (hopeful) end to summer, I decided to make this eggplant and black eyed pea curry from The PPK as an introduction to the season. Warm and hearty, it doesn’t have winter squash, potatoes, or other typical ‘winter’ ingredients, but it does evoke feelings of being nestled up in a warm blanket by the fire with a light dusting of snow outside. If this doesn’t appeal at this time of year, it’s also a really good curry 🙂

This is my first use of two kinds of lentils plus a bean in a curry. No stranger to mixing my beans, I was curious to see what would happen with green lentils, red lentils, and black eyed peas. The red lentils make the curry very creamy, and disappear into the background – hidden protein! The green lentils and black eyed peas pair wonderfully, and give the dish different ‘protein eye candy’ while complimenting each other on the palate. The eggplant is meaty, and soaks up the curry flavour wonderfully. The bulk from the lentils also makes the eggplant almost float on the surface, elevating the vegetable to prominence. It’s a simple curry, made of curry powder, fennel, and cayenne. The cilantro and lemon juice add brightness, adding a bit of ‘pop’ to the end. If the beans are canned or pre-cooked, this is a fantastic weeknight dinner to whip up and impress yourself. If you’re inspired to up the ante, add curry leaves, make your own curry powder (toast the whole or ground spices before grinding/mixing for maximum flavour), and of course you can add more vegetables! Zucchini, green beans, greens, potatoes, or even winter squash would all be fantastic. Served with roti, naan, or a grain and a fresh green salad, and you are ready to embrace the season change with this tasty stew.

The recipe can be found here: Eggplant and Black Eyed Pea Curry


Habanero Hot Sauce

Habanero Hot Sauce

A co-worker gifted me with six fresh from the garden habanero peppers, after hearing of my love affair of spicy food. I was immediately faced with indecision – should I freeze them whole and enjoy them in various chilis, stews, and curries, or should I celebrate the habanero and make a fiery sauce? The sauce was speaking to me, and so I went in search of The Recipe that would celebrate the fiery pepper and not mask it. This turned out to be more difficult than I thought!

I finally found a recipe (and there aren’t many) that celebrate this noble pepper. From Rick Bayless, Top Chef Master no less! The ingredients are simple: 12 habaneros (stemmed only – keep those seeds in there!), 1/2 cup diced carrot, 1/2 cup diced onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and salt. The method is even easier: boil everything in a pot until carrots are tender, and then blend. Store in fridge. Done! I was seduced by the simple recipe, and decided that was the one.

The result? Amazing. If only I knew it was that easy to make hot sauce earlier! The carrots add colour – you can’t taste them at all. I added water to the blender slowly for consistency, and ended up with two small Mason jars of fresh hot sauce. Licking the blender, it was definitely a 5-alarm type sauce. It has mellowed out over time though (24h thus far), and although a little goes a long way, you don’t need gloves to handle it! Absolutely fantastic, it’ll add a bit of pizzazz to my chilis, stews, curries, and salads for a long time to come. I cannot wait for a trip to the farmer’s market for more fresh peppers! Treat them right, and the peppers bask in their glory. Yum!

The recipe can be found here: Rick Bayless’ Habanero Hot Sauce


Millennium Green Thai Curry

The picture does not do this dish justice. Apologies for the very poor quality!

The picture does not do this dish justice. Apologies for the very poor quality!

If I could re-name the summer of 2013, I’d call it the year of the zucchini. My CSA showered me with zucchini (courgettes) and summer squash. I did my best to keep up, and what wasn’t eaten raw or cooked was diced, grated, steamed, and frozen for delicious treats come February when I am tired of winter produce. With over 100lbs of zucchini and summer squash this summer, and an apartment sized deep freeze full of the stuff, I have gotten very creative! This Green Thai curry is one such example.

I have waxed poetic about the Pumpkin Thai Curry in the Millennium cookbook before, and am adamant that Eric Tucker is a genius. This Green Thai Curry version uses the same curry paste featured in that recipe, but substitutes all the winter squash for summer squash. Brilliant, right? I then used that curry sauce and included the rest of the curry vegetables that I love to use, as shown in my other Green Thai Curry recipe: eggplant, zucchini (more!), green beans, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and swiss chard. All save for the mushrooms were compliments of my CSA. I don’t know if it was the garden fresh veggies, the new and unique sauce, or the delight in knowing that I used two zucchinis for this bowl of greatness, but this Thai curry is a keeper! I love how the same ingredients for the curry sauce can end up with a completely different taste – it’s all dependent on how you cook it. The scientist in me is fascinated by the different flavour profiles if you add a certain spice in step one or step five, or if you pre-simmer the sauce before adding the vegetables.

There is no new recipe for this dish, just some creative imagination on how to combine two existing ones! So if you are like me and have zucchini coming out your ears and are sick of raw zucchini pasta with pesto (delicious!), try this recipe out – not only do you decrease your zucchini count, but you end up with a delicious, slightly spicy, and very piquant curry! Definitely one to keep for a rainy day!

The curry paste/sauce recipe can be found here: Winter Vegetable Pumpkin Thai Curry

The rest of the vegetable medley can be found here: Green Thai Curry

 

*Note that the vegetables are suggestions only. Use your imagination! In this edition, I also added some home-sporuted mung beans for some extra crunch, which were amazing.


Spicy Sour Chickpea Curry

Spicy Sour Chana Curry

Sometimes indecision can be a good thing. I entered the battle zone kitchen knowing only one thing: I wanted curry. Spicy? Tangy? Sour? Tomato based? Coconut milk based? All these questions flew through my mind as I assembled the curry vegetables. I quickly discovered that I had no tomatoes or coconut milk, so those options were out. But for flavour … I decided in the end to not make a decision. Thus, spicy sour chickpea curry was born!

The curry mixture is based off of this Spicy Squash Curry recipe that I’ve made in the past. The legume of choice was chickpeas for their meaty texture. The vegetables were inspired by my CSA of the week: eggplant, zucchini, the first cherry tomatoes and red peppers of the season, and swiss chard. I found some mushrooms in the fridge so they got added to the pot as well. The end result was better than I could have imagined, and exactly what I wanted! The curry is spicy from the hot peppers and chili powder, but it’s very tangy as well with both asafetida and amchoor (mango powder). The whole fenugreek and cumin seeds add depth, coriander for the ‘common’ curry binder, and turmeric to finish it off. The end result is a complex, unique flavour profile that is as spontaneous as the method of the recipe making! Definitely a crowd pleaser with its mixture of spicy and sour, and one that I will turn to time and time again the next time I am paralyzed by indecision. Enjoy!

Spicy Sour Chickpea Curry

*Note* It goes without saying that you can add or omit anything on this list to satisfy your own urges at the time. This is the version that I made, and it hit the spot! There is no substitution for mango powder in this recipe. It adds a unique tang to the dish, and is worth hunting out at an Indian market (my sample size has lasted me 2 years and counting). If absolutely necessary, I believe that 1 tbsp. of tamarind concentrate may result in the same tangy-sour notes, but this substitution is (as of yet) untested.

1 tbsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. fennel seeds

½ tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. paprika

2 tsp. oil

1 tsp. cumin seeds

pinch of asafetidia

½ tsp. fenugreek seeds

4 whole dried red chilis, to taste

¼ tsp. salt, to taste

1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced

 

1 medium eggplant, cut into ½” moons (approx. 4 cups)

1 large zucchini, cut into ½” moons (approx. 4 cups)

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces (scant 1 cup)

3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 (19oz. cans chickpeas, or 1 cup dried chickpeas, pre-cooked)

1 bunch swiss chard, roughly chopped (approx. 4 cups)

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp. amchoor (mango powder)

 

Directions:

1) In a small bowl (or large measuring cup) mix together the ground coriander, fennel seed, chili powder, paprika, turmeric, and ¼ cup water to make a paste.

2) In large pot, heat oil on medium high. Add the cumin seeds and asafetida. Saute until cumin seeds begin to crack.

3) Add fenugreek seeds and red chilis. Stir.

4) Add the spice paste, salt, ginger, and ¼ cup water. Stir and sauté until fragrant, approx. 2min.

5) Add the eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms. Stir, cover, and let steam until eggplant begins to soften, approx. 5min.

6) Add the bell pepper, chickpeas, and 4 cups water. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer until eggplant tender, approx. 20min. Add water as necessary to adjust for consistency. (I added about 8-10 cups total)

7) Add the swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, amchoor, and lemon juice. Stir, cover, and cook until greens bright green and slightly wilted. Adjust for seasonings.

8) Serve with rice and/or flatbread of choice.

 


An Ode to Tahini

I am a tahini addict. I love the stuff. Some may shudder at the thought of eating it straight out of the jar, but I consider that on par with peanut butter straight. Heaven. So often tahini is a backup singer in a recipe – unappreciated and unassuming, you only notice when it’s not there. Hummus. Falafel. Fudge. Halva. Dressings and sauces. I am often hesitant to use my favourite ingredient in such applications, as I feel that the list of ingredients and flavour combinations are not up to tahini-standards. And so, to all my fellow tahini-lovers out there, I offer you these three ‘recipes’ (I use the term loosely) that feature tahini as the star. And rightly so!

Tahini-Miso Dressing

This idea originally came from a flip through Veganomicon. As a single cooker, I never ever make salad dressing. Too many mason jars have ended up with interesting bacteria cultures from half-finished dressing. I took the idea of tahini and miso, added my own single-serve ratios, and method from my single-person Asian peanut sauce (taught to me by a former roommate). As the title suggests, this dressing combines tahini with miso, another favourite ingredient. A dash of vinegar or lemon juice for acidity, and you have an amazing dressing for any salad you create.

1 tsp. tahini

1 tsp. miso

1 tsp. white vinegar, lemon or lime juice

1) In a measuring cup, combine all ingredients.

2) Whisk vigorously with a fork, until the vinegar acts as an emulsifier and everything is combined. Adjust viscosity by adding water (1/4 tsp. at a time).

3) Serve!

*This recipe is easily scaled up for the size of your salad. Just keep the 1:1:1 ratio of tahini:miso:vinegar, and you’re set!

Simple Tahini-Sriracha Crudités

Lovely Lovely Vegetables!

Lovely Lovely Vegetables!

I have been known to eat an entire plate of fresh vegetables from the farmers market for lunch. There is nothing wrong with this! And my favourite way to eat these vegetables is with this simple presentation. The tahini and Sriracha are a marriage in heaven, while still letting the vegetables shine through. After all, when you have farmer’s market carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes, you don’t want to wreck that freshness with a heavy dressing.

This isn’t really a recipe, as such. Arrange your raw vegetables of choice on a plate or in a bowl. Drizzle tahini on top (to taste). Finish off with Sriracha. Enjoy!

Tahini + Sriracha. Amazing.

Tahini + Sriracha. Amazing.

Frozen Banana Tahini Molasses Split

As the saying goes, desperation is the Mother of invention. This dessert was born from the need desire to have banana soft serve one summer evening. However, it was also over 40dC, and the frozen bananas were turning into an unappetizing brown mush before even exiting the food processor! Add to this all those extra dishes, and I went the lazy route. Since I have yet to make my banana-date soft serve – this dish is the dessert of the summer!

Similar to the crudités, slice a frozen banana into approx. 1″ long pieces. Split each piece in half, and place the banana pieces flat side-up on a plate. Drizzle tahini overtop of the banana pieces. Follow up with blackstrap molasses. Enjoy!

Tahini + Blackstrap Molasses. A perfect topping for frozen bananas. Divine!

Tahini + Blackstrap Molasses. A perfect topping for frozen bananas. Divine!

I hope these three simple ‘recipes’ featuring tahini bring you as much joy as they do me. Try them out – I can think of no other ingredient that can hold its own with miso, Sriracha, and blackstrap molasses with such delicious results! Oh Tahini, I love you so.


Island Rice and Peas

Island Rice and Peas

Sorry for the poor lighting – up here North of the 56th parallel it’s still quite bright late at night!

Ever since discovering the glories of Kushari and the closely related (aka time pressed) mujadara, I have been obsessed with creating and discovering new dishes that cook a grain and a legume in one pot. Some have been successful, some have not. For instance, adzuki beans and quinoa are absolutely divine together, but should not be cooked in one pot unless you like your beans crunchy or your quinoa overcooked. (Caveat: if you have canned beans or pre-cooked adzuki beans, welcome to the one-pot party!). Adding 1tsp. of miso to the pre-cooked adzuki beans and quinoa while the quinoa simmers may be as close to heaven as one can get on a weeknight. Throw in some kale, and its eye-roll worthy! But I digress.

With this obsession in mind, I turned to Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero, a cookbook that is quickly replacing Veganomicon in my heart. Island Rice and Peas beckoned, even though when I saw peas I instantly thought “green peas” which was followed quickly by a nose wrinkle and an “ick”. Pea haters don’t despair – there are no green peas in this dish! Rather the peas refer to pigeon peas, which are a legume. Whew! I’ve used them previously in my Sambar, and to be honest have been at a loss as to what to do with the whole variety since. After making this dish, I now know their purpose in my life. And that’s Island Rice and Peas.

Simple in concept, this is the Jamaican version of the one-pot mujadara, although I took my adzuki bean lesson to heart and pre-cooked the pigeon peas. The pigeon peas start out grey when dry, but when you cook them they turn a glorious golden brown, making them much more appetizing looking! They taste like a meaty lentil (if that makes sense), and sit atop the rice pilaf like treasures. The pilaf is kicked up a couple of notches with Scotch Bonnet peppers, or a combination of Scotch Bonnet and habanero, if you can’t find enough Scotch Bonnets and you like spice like I do. Coconut milk tempers the heat somewhat, making the dish that addicting combination of spicy and cool creaminess, which just makes you go for more! The spices are simple: all spice and thyme, and if you are like me and have a mini panic attack when you see only two spices listed in a recipe, fear not! Sometimes simple is best, and this is one of those cases. The recipe makes enough to feed a small army, which is great for those who love reheated leftovers. Freeze individual portions (I used a plastic-lined cookie tray), and then when you want to enjoy an exotic lunch add some water and reheat. Just as good, if not better, the second time around.

I did make some minor tweaks to the recipe as written. Instead of coconut milk I used almond milk, and the result was just as creamy as the original (I think). I also added some collard greens for good measure, because I am addicted to greens. In Jamaica as well, all I ate in a week vacation there was sautéed caloo, which is similar to collard greens, but more delicious (perhaps it’s because you’re in Jamaica?). Although a two-pot affair to cook the beans, this is a tasty version of my standard mujadara, and will enter the rotation with glee!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an online version for you – the recipe is on p. 313-314 of Vegan Eats World.


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.

 


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