Tag Archives: chili pepper

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.

 


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.

 


Triple Daal Dals

Dal: Pigeon peas (whole), mung beans, green lentils Additional veggies: Kale

Dal: Pigeon peas (whole), mung beans, green lentils
Additional veggies: Kale (kept it simple!)

I have a bean addiction. No matter how much storage room I have (or lack thereof), if there’s a dried legume that I haven’t seen before I pick it up. The weirder the better. Similar to my belief that stews are better with greens, why use one kind of lentil in a daal when you can use two? Or three? Sometimes more is just more, but sometimes more is better. This is one of those times.

Through experimentation, I have come across some favourite lentil/bean combinations. With the appropriate tempering and additional veggies, you can have a whole-meal dinner that is flavourful, hearty, and guaranteed to be unique every time. I love experimenting with dals, and I don’t think I’ve made the same version twice. I do have my favourites however, and this is the guideline that I will present to you.

In a dal, the all mighty lentil is the star of the show. Resist the temptation to use chickpeas – those have their time and place. A dal is where the lentil can shine. There are many types, some of which you will be very familiar with, and some are quite odd. Here’s the list of what’s been simmering in my pot in the past:

– Green lentils: These are what I would call “standard” lentils. They keep their shape when cooked, and have infinite uses. One favourite is mujadara.

– Red lentils: Another “standard”, these disappear when cooked in a stew, and make the consistency thicker. A tricky way to get more protein!

– Mung beans: Whole mung beans are pretty green beads. They are quite small, and cook in about the same amount of time as green lentils. They have a stronger taste then green lentils, but still subtle.

– Urad dal: Whole urad dal are very small black lentils. I picked these up by mistake trying to make dosas. A tip: use split urad dal for dosas! Whole urad dal can be used like black Beluga lentils, which (ironically enough) I have never found in the grocery store.

– Toor dal: A recent acquisition, these are like red lentils and split urad dal. They cook quite quickly and add thickness to your dal. I can’t pick up a distinct taste for them, and as such I think they could be substituted with red lentils in a pinch.

– Pigeon peas: Whole pigeon peas are about the size of a green pea and grey. I picked up whole ones by accident – I wanted split pigeon peas. However, whole ones are delicious too! They have a much stronger flavour, one that is unique to the bean world. When you want a change from chickpeas but are still craving the chickpea texture, I’d use these. I used them in the sambar, and they are delicious.

(The terminology used here is what is on my package/labeling at the ethnic grocer. I am sure there are many names for these lentils. A good guide as to what they may be called to you can be found here: The Cook’s Thesaurus: Lentils.)

For the tempering, I generally try to stick to guidelines from multiple chefs, with the occasional creative mix. I have noticed these general rules of thumb, and thus far they have served me well!

1) If there is no cumin, then there is coriander. Often there is both.

2) If there are no mustard seeds, then cumin seeds are used

3) Asafetida (hing) and anchoor (mango powder) bring a lovely sourness to the dish. They are worth the hunt to find! Rarely used together, you just need a pinch of one or the other. If you don’t have any, you can substitute with lemon or lime juice at the end.

4) Curry leaves heighten the dish to a whole different level. You can have the same tempering but with the addition of curry leaves it’s a whole new dish. Unfortunately, you cannot substitute curry powder for this ingredient. While hunting for asafetida and anchoor, pick up some curry leaves. I got mine by asking the man behind the counter at an Indian grocery, and he cut a fresh branch for me – for $0.99! I have also found them at Asian grocery stores, beside the lime leaves and pandan.

5) Don’t be afraid to experiment, but write down what you try!

Dal: Mung beans, toor dal, and green lentils Additional veggies: Kale and carrot

Dal: Mung beans, toor dal, and green lentils
Additional veggies: Kale, eggplant, and zucchini

Here is my current favourite dal. As I mentioned above, feel free to mix and match the lentils – you just need a total of 1 cup dry when you’re done. Enjoy!

Triple Daal Dal

½ cup mung beans, rinsed
¼ cup toor dal
¼ cup green lentils
4 cups water (plus more if necessary)

Tempering
2 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
¼ tsp. asafoetida (hing)
1” piece fresh ginger, minced
⅓ cup onion, minced
1 large dried red chili, minced (or 3t. red pepper flakes, to taste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2t. white vinegar
2 tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. turmeric
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Optional veggies:
greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, beans …

Directions:
1) In large pot, heat oil on medium. Add mustard seeds and sauté until they start to sputter (a lid is handy!)
2) Add asafoetida and curry leaves. Sauté ~30s.
3) Add onions and ginger. Sauté until onions are translucent, ~2-3min.
4) Add dried red chili, garlic, vinegar, and coriander. Sauté ~1min.
5) Add turmeric, tomato, and optional vegetables of choice. Stir, cover, and cook until tomatoes start to break down and get saucy.
6) Add all lentils and water. Mix, cover, and cook on medium-low for 20-30min, or until lentils are tender. Add water as necessary to adjust the gravy to your liking.
7) Adjust seasonings to taste. Add cilantro and optional greens. Cover and bring to a boil.
8) Turn off heat, stir, and serve with rice, roti, or naan.


Green Thai Curry

Green Thai Curry

This green Thai curry is a staple. Once you make it, you will crave it. It has also successfully proven to self-professed tofu-haters that tofu shouldn’t be pronounced with a wrinkled nose. (Try not to gloat when they go for seconds!) The green Thai curry paste is made fresh and is very easy: just throw everything into a food processor. The heady combination of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, and heat from the hot chilis (to taste) win me over every time. The fresh cilantro is a must – it brings spring to the dish. I prefer ginger in this recipe to galangal as I think it matches better with the acid from the lemongrass and lime juice, but that is completely my preference. The best part about this recipe is that even though the list of ingredients looks very long, you probably have most of it already in your pantry, and since most of it goes into the food processor, clean-up is easy and cooking time is much shorter than you’d expect. This curry goes well with rice or vermicelli, but I won’t stop you from eating it straight up like soup!
After many trials and numerous iterations of this dish, I have compiled these rules of thumb for guaranteed success:

1) Sautéing the fresh curry paste makes all the difference. Like dry roasting spices for Indian curries, this is when the lemongrass and heat really start to come out. Once fragrant, you will have to have serious restraint from not eating the sauce as is!

2) When you add the tofu to soak up all the curry paste flavour, add the eggplant as well. Double the flavour with two different textures!

3) Usually I add all the coconut milk to the food processor to help the paste come together. If you have a better food processor than I, you could probably proceed with the recipe as-written. I find though that if I don’t add the extra liquid, I could do a better job making a paste by chopping things finely than my food processor.

4) If you don’t have coconut milk on hand, I’ve recently discovered that almond milk makes an amazing substitute! I am sure curry purists around the world have just gotten very angry with me, but when you need some Green Thai Curry a little matter of no coconut milk won’t stop me! This successful trial makes me believe that rice milk or hemp milk would also make for excellent substitutions.

5) The best suited vegetables for this dish are:
– Eggplant: A must!
– Zucchini: So lovely and tender
– One or more crunchy green vegetable such as green beans, snap peas, bell pepper, or asparagus
– A leafy green such as bok choy (spinach will also work)
– Cherry tomatoes: Or as I like to call them, Tomato Bombs of Flavour.

6) Add the cherry tomatoes at the very very end – with your greens. The “cherry bomb” in your mouth is so worth the restraint!

7) If you can find them, the kaffir lime leaves are a must. I store them in the freezer, and use as needed. They will transform your South Asian dishes from “really good” to “how can it get any better?!?!?”. They are the curry leaves of Asian cuisine. Add them with the green curry paste, and the lime flavour is heightened further!

This dish will turn your kitchen into a little taste of Thailand with its aromas and taste. Quick to make and quicker to devour, this is a classic!

The recipe can be found here: Vegetarian Green Thai Curry


White Bean Farro Soup and West African Mafe

On the surface, these Italian and West African soups have very little in common – aside from being served in a bowl. Dig a little deeper and you will find both in Terry Hope Romero’s new(ish) cookbook Vegan Eats World. When I learned that she was planning a new cookbook as a follow up to the excellent Viva Vegan! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It took some serious constraint and a severe warning/spoiler that I would be getting it for Christmas so I wouldn’t jump the gun. One of the best Christmas presents ever!

Vegan Eats World clearly demonstrates Terry’s love for authentic dishes from around the world. All are researched to the hilt to make them as legitimate as possible, which is a must. My general approach to opening the world in my kitchen is to Google a country, find some traditional dishes, and write down the ingredients and troop to the appropriate ethnic market. I never escape the market without more unplanned purchases than what was on the list. Back in the kitchen, I cook to my heart’s content and Google what exactly to do with the splurge purchases (often with no labels in English). Terry clearly shares this approach – right down to making your own spice mixes. Touching on dishes from all 6 continents with a significant population (i.e. humans >> penguins), you have a dish for every occasion! My first two dishes, White Bean Farro Soup and West African Mafe were hits. I have made many more since, and I have yet to be disappointed! An added bonus is the humour throughout – what other cookbook do you have that references both Boy Meets World and Brave New World with puns?

(Note: there are some recipes that are clearly updated versions of those found in Veganomicon and Viva Vegan! as well as the spanakopita recipe from Isa’s Vegan with a Vengeance. However, there is still plenty of new material for this to be an absolute must in your cookbook arsenal. The updates also add to the dish – making them even better than the original!)

White Bean Farro Soup

Italian Kamut and White Bean Soup

This is like Italian Wedding Soup. Or a warm hug on a winter night. Hearty, filling, and something that will remind you of log cabins and skiing in the winter. I made it with kamut instead of farro, because I forgot which one to get at the bulk store. Kamut adds a chewy texture and was fantastic – I am sure farro is just as delicious! It’s a simple soup, but beautiful in composition. Terry has posted her own review as well as the recipe here. (Slurp!)

West African Mafe

West African Mafe

It has been debated that I could live off of peanut butter. I am a sucker for savory peanut butter recipes, and when I saw this West African Mafe recipe I knew I had to make it. Peanut butter lovers take note – there are not one, but three peanut butter soup recipes – all from different cultures! It amazes me that with a slight tweak to spices and the vegetables you throw in you can be transported to Chile, Asia, or West Africa. Similar to the Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Stew (from Asia), this West African Mafe was superb. Full of protein due to the tofu and the peanut butter, the broth is rich and hearty with plenty of spice to go around. It is definitely a distinct dish from the Asian counterpart, with a more subtle heat ‘punch’ – it sneaks up on you and makes you crave more. The eggplant soaks up the broth flavour wonderfully, and the addition of greens give the stew some colour. Serve with a green salad and your grain of choice and this is a superstar meal that will fuel you for whatever adventures take your fancy!

The recipe is on page 160 of the cookbook, and can be viewed via Google Book Preview: Deluxe Tofu Vegetable Mafe.

Vegan Eats World delivers some amazing recipes with a healthy dose of humour and fun. It’s a pleasure to read and delicious to cook!


Red Posole Vegetable Chili

Red Posole Chili

I have an addiction to buying dried beans. The stranger they look the better. Of course I have my staples: lentils (green and red), chickpeas, black eyed peas, black beans, and mung beans to name a few. This chili was born upon the realization that I just purchased El Salvadorian Red Beans and I needed to use them. Now. I vaguely recalled a recipe called “Red Beans and Rice” in Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero, but I wasn’t feeling the rice and bean vibe. When I was closing the book, it naturally fell open to a recipe called “Quick Red Posole”, which looked slightly more promising. But by this time other beans in the arsenal were calling my name, so the Red Posole was bookmarked for another day. But this quick flip through got the creative juices flowing, and with a quick inventory in my fridge this fiery Red Posole Vegetable Chili was born!

The mixture of beans is totally up to your discretion: add more variety or less – it’s up to you! The vegetables are also infinitely adaptable, making this the perfect on-a-whim I-need-chili-NOW recipe. This first variation used leftover mushrooms for chewiness and bell pepper, zucchini, and spinach for colour. I roasted the dried chilis old school: dry toast them in a pan on your stove, pressing down with a spatula. Turn over when they start to blacken (or smoke), and remove from heat quickly. The whole process takes less than 2 min., and the roasted dried chilis add such depth to the chili it would be remiss without. However, if this sounds like a recipe for disaster, by all means you can skip this step for the safety of your kitchen! This chili was absolutely delicious, and tasted even better as leftovers. So without further ado, I present to you Yet Another Chili recipe!

 

Red Posole Vegetable Chili

½ cup dried black beans (1½ cups cooked)
½ cup dried black eyed peas (1½ cups cooked)
½ cup dried red beans (1½ cups cooked)
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. garlic, minced
¾ cup onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 dried ancho chilis, roasted and chopped
1½ cup bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
1¾ cup zucchini, cut into ½” half moons
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 ½ tsp. dried oregano
3 ½ cup tomatoes, diced OR 1 (32oz.) can diced tomatoes
4 cups water
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3 cups fresh spinach
1 tbsp. lime juice
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

Directions:
1) If required, cook beans
2) In large pot, sauté garlic in oil on medium-high until brown, ~30s.
3) Add onions. Saute until soft, ~3-4min.
4) Add jalapenos, roasted dried chilis, and bell pepper. Saute until soft,~3min.
5) Add mushrooms, zucchini, and spices. Stir. Add ~2 cups water and cook until zucchini slightly soft, ~5min.
6) Add cooked beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, and 4 cups water. Stir, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook ~35 min, stirring occasionally.
7) Add spinach in batches; stir and cook until bright green and wilted.
8) Add lime juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne (to taste). Stir.
9) Turn off heat and let sit ~5 min. before serving to let the flavours meld.


Yogurtlu Ispanak and Mualle

Yogurtlu Ispanak (Left) and Mualle (Right): Turkish Delights!

Yogurtlu Ispanak (Left) and Mualle (Right): Turkish Delights!

Visiting Turkey and crossing the boundary between two continents within one city is on my bucket list. Also on the list is to stand in Constantinople and sing that 50’s classic “Istanbul“). The country is so laden with history and a wide variety of ethnicities that I dream of the markets and cuisine! Turkey remains on the bucket list, so I settled for a Turkish feast: Yogurtlu Ispanak and Mualle.

Yogurtlu Ispanak is a sautéed spinach dish. Incredibly easy, it takes spinach to new heights. I generally loathe steamed spinach, but this was devoured in seconds! And made again, and again, and again … What I like about the seasonings and method is that it could be used for any green: swiss chard, kale, collard greens, and even dandelion greens! Almost a spinach risotto, if you omit the rice it would be a wonderful side to Lentils and Rice, for a super quick weeknight dinner. The creaminess of the yogurt (or substitute your favourite non-dairy milk) provide a delectable backdrop, allowing for the spices and taste of the greens to really shine. The best part is that you won’t even notice the creaminess – there’s only 1/3 cup added for the whole dish so it’s not swimming in cream sauce.   The recipe can be found here: Spinach with Yogurt (Yogurtlu Ispanak)

Mualle is basically Turkish moussaka, except much simpler to make! Another one-pot recipe, it tastes divine and a tangy variation of the beloved Greek classic. It’s a much lighter dish, almost like a ratatouille, with the addition of lentils – the protein power house. The ingredient list is so short that it’s an easy answer to the question “What to do with eggplant?” I could not find pomegranate molasses, so I turned to Google and made my own from pomegranate juice. Making your own pomegranate molasses is quite simple in theory: For every 4 cups of pomegranate juice, add 1 tbsp. lemon juice (to taste – the range varies from 1 tsp. to 1/4 cup). Heat on medium-high in a saucepan, stirring constantly. When it reaches the thickness you desire, take off the heat. In reality, this was actually quite difficult. I am not a patient person, and the juice was very much juice for the first 20min of the process. However, it quickly turns to syrup at around the 30min mark, and if you are not stirring it constantly the pot will boil over and you will have a kitchen fire on your hands. Twice, if you don’t learn your lesson the first time. So be forewarned: when they say stir constantly, they mean it! All that being said, it was the pomegranate molasses that made the dish. It added this sour tang to the casserole that would be sorely missed without. My best guess at a substitution would be tamarind concentrate, but that would be a poor one.

The recipe for Mualle can be found here: Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses (Mualle). As I do not own a cast-iron casserole dish, I instead assembled the Mualle in a glass casserole dish and cooked covered for 45min at 425oF. Turned out wonderfully!

My first foray into Turkish cuisine was an unqualified success. Both dishes are seasoned wonderfully, with great flavour and zest. More tangy than spicy, they quickly became kitchen stand-by’s. Usher Turkey into your kitchen with these dishes, and you will not be disappointed!

or a Turkish feast: Yogurtlu Ispanak and Mualle.

Yogurtlu Ispanak is a sauteed spinach dish. Incredibly easy, it takes spinach to new heights. I generally loathe steamed spinach, but this was devoured in seconds! And made again, and again, and again … What I like about the seasonings and method is that it could be used for any green: swiss chard, kale, collard greens, and even dandlion greens! Almost a spinach risotto, if you omit the rice it would be a wonderful side to Lentils and Rice, for a super quick weeknight dinner. The creamyness of the yogurt (or substitute your favourite non-dairy milk) provide a delicatable backdrop, allowing for the spices and taste of the greens to really shine. The best part is that you won’t even notice the creaminess – there’s only 1/3 cup added for the whole dish so it’s not swimming in cream sauce.   The recipe can be found here: Spinach with Yogurt (Yogurtlu Ispanak)

Mualle is basically Turkish moussaka, except much simplier to make! Another one-pot recipe, it tastes devine and a tangy variation of the beloved Greek classic. It’s a much lighter dish, almost like a ratattouie, with the addition of lentils – the protein power house. The ingredient list is so short that it’s an easy answer to the question “What to do with eggplant?”. I could not find pomegranate molasses, so I turned to Google and made my own from pomegranate juice. Making your own pomegranate molasses is quite simple in theory: For every 4 cups of pomegranate juice, add 1 tbsp. lemon juice (to taste – the range varies from 1 tsp. to 1/4 cup). Heat on medium-high in a saucepan, stirring constantly. When it reaches the thinkness you desire, take off the heat. In reality, this was actually quite difficult. I am not a patient person, and the juice was very much juice for the first 20min of the process. However, it quickly turns to syrup at around the 30min mark, and if you are not stirring it constantly the pot will boil over and you will have a kitchen fire on your hands. Twice, if you don’t learn your lesson the first time. So be forewarned: when they say stir constantly, they mean it! All that being said, it was the pomegranate molasses that made the dish. It added this sour tang to the casserole that would be sorely missed without. My best guess at a substitution would be tamarind concentrate, but that would be a poor one.

The recipe for mualle can be found here: Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses (Mualle). As I do not own a cast-iron casserole dish, I instead assembled the Mualle in a glass casserole dish and cooked covered for 45min at 425dF. Turned out wonderfully!

My first foray into Turkish cuisine was an unqualified success. Both dishes are seasoned wonderfully, with great flavour and zest. More tangy than spicy, they quickly became kitchen stand-by’s. Usher Turkey into your kitchen with these dishes, and you will not be disappointed!


%d bloggers like this: