Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Channa Masala (Chole) Variation

My mom is the greatest chef in the world. It is official. Because she is the greatest chef in the world, she has these magical amazing recipes. So I took her recipe for channa masala and made it for dinner tonight. It involves a blender. Need I say more?

I forgot to take a picture – but the masala, when you’re done blending it, should be an orangey-reddish color. Less red, more orange, slightly pink. Coral?

Channa Masala

In blender, grind together:

  • 1/2 cup channa (a.k.a. chickpeas, garbanzo beans)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch ginger root
  • Fresh & dried chili
  • Some jeera (cumin seeds)
  • Some somp (looks like cumin seeds, but they’re green)
  • Piece of coconut
  • Poppy seeds
  • 1/2 small Onion
  • Brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1-2 cups water

Other ingredients:

  • 1 large potato, diced to size of chickpease
  • 1-2 cans garbanzo beans
  • Onion, diced
  • Several cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 inch ginger root, sliced
  • Tomato, diced
  • Salt
  • Garam masala
  • Coriander (cilantro)
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon stick
  1. In a large saucepan, fry minced garlic, sliced ginger, onion, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. As onions are finished cooking, add the potato & turmeric.
  3. Add the tomato when potatoes are halfway cooked.
  4. When the potatoes are fully cooked, add channa, salt, and garam masala.
  5. Add masala from blender into saucepan, a little at a time. Don’t add too much.
  6. Freeze extra masala.
  7. Serve with chapathis, naan, or rice.

ENJOY!

I know this is the second channa masala recipe I’ve posted (here’s the first), but that just shows that there are many variations to the same dish. Have you ever made chole/channa masala? How do you make it?

Advertisements

Tis the Season for Some Curry: Channa Masala (or Chole)

Indian food.  If you haven’t had it yet and you live in Boston, for shame. (unless you’re allergic to spice, then you’re excused.  And no, “I don’t like anything except plain pasta or potatoes” is not an allergy. Just saying.) You have two options:

  1. India Quality – Kenmore Square – Delicious, affordable, variety of North Indian cuisine in generous portions so you can just eat your college-student heart out. (Or Bhindi Bazaar, right around the corner on Mass Ave, if the line at India Quality is just too long and it’s cold outside.)
  2. Learn to make Indian food! Don’t worry – everything is available at Shaws in the ethnic food aisle (Indian)! (Star Market)

On the menu for tonight, then, is:

channa masala

Channa Masala (as we call this dish in south India. It is more commonly known as Chole in north India.) and Naan

~30 minutes prep & cooking, serves approx. 5

  • Naan – sold in packages of 2 at Shaws. I generally eat 1/2 or 1 naan, but if you’re using the naan to combat the spice, you’ll probably consumer 1 to 1.5 naan. They’re very filling, though, so be careful. Also, garlic naan is my favorite, but it will increase the spice level overall.)
  • 1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans) – This can be found in the Spanish food aisle
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 large potato, chopped to approximate size of chick peas
  • 3 spoonfuls of tomato paste
  • 1 Green chilli (serrano pepper)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Inch of ginger root, chopped
  • 2-3 Bay leaves
  • 1 spoonful of red chilli powder (found in regular spice aisle)
  • Channa Masala Spice mix (sold in small boxes)
  • 1 tsp. Turmeric
  • Vegetable oil 3 tbsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh, chopped coriander for garnishing
  • Fresh lime for final flavoring
  1. Chop the onion, garlic and ginger.
  2. Grind the ginger and garlic in blender. If you don’t have a blender, you can saute the garlic and ginger with the onion, but make sure to mince well.
  3. In a saucepan, heat a bit of oil (2-3 T). Add the onion and saute till the onion turns clear. Add about 2-3 spoonfuls of channa masala seasoning and saute til fragrant.
  4. Add the ground ginger/garlic mix and green chilli. Saute for a few minutes til most of the liquid has evaporated. If you like it a bit on the spicy side, add a couple more green chillies.
  5. Add the chopped tomato, potato and bay leaves and salt to taste.
  6. Cook until potato starts becoming tender. Add canned chick peas.
  7. Allow everything to stew at low-med heat for at least 10 minutes, or until liquid reduces (smashing some of the chick peas can help to thicken the sauce, if necessary).
  8. Slice the lime in quarters and squeeze on a quarter per serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro!
  9. While channa masala is simmer and reducing, butter both sides of the naan(s) and toast on a flat pan. If you’re tired or pressed for time, you can also make the naan in a toaster oven, but only butter the side facing up.

Enjoy your international dinner!

My Mom’s Homemade Vegetarian Chili

I’ve been blathering on about the delicious vegetarian chili at The OTHERSIDE Cafe on Newbury St., Sunset Grill & Tap in Allston, and randomly, if you’re in the area, or in the mood for a 3-4 hour drive from Boston – Crow’s Corner (Cafe/Bakery near Cavendish, VT).

Now I’ve finally gotten around to it: the source of my love for chili.  When I was little, we’d go to Sweet Tomatoes, which is an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Tampa, Florida.  I’m not sure if they have any locations outside of Florida, but if you’re ever in Tampa – go there! In the soup section of Sweet Tomatoes’ giant buffet, was a vegetarian chili dish.  It easily became my favorite in that section, but one day, they stopped making it vegetarian with, go figure, the addition of …you guessed it – chicken broth.

One day, my mom surprised me by making that dish I could no longer find while dining out – vegetarian chili.  Her recipe, which deviated from the Sweet Tomatoes recipe quite deliberately, was phenomenal.  I loved it even more than the chili I’d eat at Sweet Tomatoes, and since then it remains my favorite recipe and has quickly risen to the top of my list of comfort foods.

Here’s the secret:

Uma’s Vegetarian Chili

  • 1 large Potato
  • 1-2 Carrots
  • 1 can Black Beans
  • 1 can Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • French cut green beans
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 1 inch Ginger Root, finely chopped
  • Serrano Peppers, finely chopped (if you can handle the spice)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Tomato paste
  • Water
  • Lemon juice
  • Cumin powder
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Red chili powder
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Corn chips – Fritos scoops are my favorite.
  • Sour Cream (If you like it – I’ve met many people in New England who don’t… boggles my mind.)
  1. Make paste with garlic, 1/4 of the onions, tomato paste, 1/2 cup water in a blender.
  2. Put the paste along with the rest of the onions in a large sauce pan and cook for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add all but the canned vegetables and 1 cup water/enough water to cover all of the vegetables and cook until all vegetables (especially carrots/potatoes – those are tough veggies) are al dente.
  4. Add canned vegetables and let simmer for 10-15 minutes
  5. Add 1 tbsp (or more, depends on taste) of each cumin and chili powders.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  The chili should be spicy/tangy, but make sure the spice doesn’t overpower the flavor of the vegetables.
  6. Garnish with chopped, fresh cilantro.
  7. Serve in large bowls with corn chips and sour cream.
  8. Enjoy!
  • Do you have your own chili recipe? How is it different?
  • My sister adds corn to her chili. What other vegetables do you think make a good chili?
  • Any questions about the flavor or consistency?

No, You DON’T Need Chicken Broth to Make Soup, Thanks.

Every time I walk into Panera Bread, I look up at the menu and die a little on the inside because all I want is Broccoli Cheddar Soup, but of course, it’s made with chicken broth. Tell me why they can’t make it with vegetable broth?  Some of my friends like to tell me that the taste is significantly improved with the stewed dead animal base, but I will never be able to judge for myself.

When I was in Geneva last spring, I found myself thinking, What should I make for dinner? I have… broccoli. And cheese. OH HEY. Broccoli Cheddar Soup. Okay, so it may have been Broccoli Gruyère Soup, but Gruyère is better than cheddar anyway (and it IS available at Star Market in the imported/specialty cheese sections.  It’s a bit pricey, $20/lb, so I don’t really recommend adding it to your weekly/bi-monthly grocery list.)

Here’s the recipe for Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup, altered to account for my vegetarianism:

Vegetarian Broccoli Cheddar Soup (Substitute Gruyère in same quantity if you’re feeling international)

  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 cup carrots, julienned
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar

Directions:

Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). Add the vegetable stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

 

Tacos! Burritos! Comida Mexicana!

Replace the beef with beans. No, really, I don’t want any meat.

taco spread

Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, Mexican blend cheese, Old El Paso Taco Shells, and Sweet Leaf Iced Tea

tacos
Delicious, Vegetarian Hard-Shell Tacos!

I am secretly (or not-so-secretly now, oops!) in love with Mexican food.

Unfortunately, many Mexican restaurants lack for a vegetarian selection, and sometimes I’m worried that meat accidentally fell into my tacos or burritos. The good news is, all the ingredients (yes, I realize they aren’t as authentic as if they were homemade) are readily available at any supermarket and preparation of these dishes is rather simple.  So tacos can be made at home! If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you could fry the beans yourself instead of buying the canned kind.

The basic ingredients are listed above. I like to add Cholula hot sauce and red salsa to my tacos as well, but unfortunately, I forgot to pick up those ingredients tonight, and I apparently ran through all my hot sauce without realizing it. I piled in the refried beans – which are much better heated on the stove in a saucepan rather than in a microwave oven, sour cream, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, guacamole, and cheese (in that order), and voilà! Tacos!

Warning though: tacos tend to fall apart as you eat them… but that just means you have taco salad on your plate when you’re finished eating what managed to stay in the taco shell.  More taco? Most excellent!

 

Simply Pasta

Sometimes, the simplest dishes, spiced just right, can make the perfect meal.

Last night, I was rushing to finish making and eating dinner before going to see Amanda Palmer’s Cabaret at the Oberon Theater in Harvard Square.  I decided to make the simplest hot meal I could think of, pasta with tomato sauce.  I’ll admit, I buy pasta sauce in the bottle, mostly because this dish is something I eat when I have little time to cook (and thus  little time to make sauce).

I boiled 2 servings of farfalle (bow-tie) pasta, until it was cooked al-dente (about 10 minutes) and strained it.  Leaving my gas stove on, but turning the heat down to low, I added Barilla Tomato & Basil sauce to the pasta and then began spicing it up.  I threw in a generous amount of basil, oregano, garlic salt, crushed red pepper and ground black pepper, until the aroma was distinct but not overpowering.

I decided to make a side for my pasta dish, so I made a quick version of garlic bread. In a toaster oven, I toasted two slices of whole wheat bread, and buttered them.  I topped the bread slices with garlic salt, crushed red pepper, basil and parmesan & romano cheese. Easily made, delicious garlic bread.

The entire meal took 20-25 minutes to prepare, satisfied my desire for a home-cooked hot meal, and fit within the time constraints of my evening.

Veggie Stir-Fry

I finally found vegetarian stir-fry sauce!  Most stir-fry sauces contain fish extract.  While I’m aware that many of my multivitamins and vitamin supplements probably also contain fish extract, I’ve been turned off by the label on stir-fry bottles that bring this ingredient to my attention.  Because I found the stir-fry sauce, I decided to make vegetable stir-fry with rice noodles for dinner.  I’ve been experimenting with stir-fry combinations, trying to find the perfect mix of vegetables.  I have yet to find this magical concoction, but perhaps that’s just as well.  I secretly like that the stir-fry is a little different every time.

Veggie Stir-Fry Recipe [Feeds 8]

  • 1 bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables (12 oz.)
  • Half a medium-sized onion, sliced in half circles
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 can of cut baby corn, strained
  • 1 can of water chestnuts, strained
  • 2 boxes of pad thai rice noodles (plain)
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetarian Stir-Fry Sauce
  • La Choy crunchy noodles
  • Chili Garlic Red Spicy Sauce

I sauteed the garlic and onions in olive oil until the garlic started to turn golden brown, then added the rest of the veggies to the saute pan.  I sauteed everything for about 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables were cooked al-dente.  At this point, a little water from the veggies had accumulated in the saute pan, so I carefully poured out most of the water and then added stir-fry sauce until all the veggies were covered.

I put water to boil in a large saucepan, and then boiled the rice noodles until they were tender.  I strained the rice noodles, rinsed them a little and then added them to the saute pan.  I mixed everything together carefully and let it cook for a couple more minutes.

Served hot with a spoonful of Chili Garlic sauce (be careful, this sauce is spicy!), with crunchy noodles on the side, the dish was a hit!

%d bloggers like this: