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Tag: indian food

RECIPE: Dal with chard

dal chard

Yes, the recipes are back. This is a version of dal palak, which is dal with spinach. It’s found across India, with variations in the recipe: different types of dal, different spice combinations, and different proportions.

I had red chard in the fridge and I hadn’t made toor dal in a while, so I decided to put them together. You can use spinach, obviously, and all kinds of lentils work: split mung, masoor, and even chana.

Note: You can put all the spices in at the beginning if you want to save a step and avoid washing an extra pan, or you can do it the way I did and put some of the spices in with the chard and the rest after the chard and dal have cooked for a while. It’s an Indian thing to add the sautéd spices toward the end of cooking (the mixture is called vaghar where I’m from), and it makes a difference in the taste.

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OK, let’s get the disclaimers out of the way first. This is not good for you. This is not difficult. The ingredients are kind of mundane. But it is soooo good.

Cheese toast is one of the great snacks of my childhood and youth. Despite the fact that Indians don’t traditionally make Western-style cheese, during the British era one of the big dairies introduced a type of processed cheese that was shelf-stable and could survive the Indian heat. Hotels and clubs that catered to Europeans and Americans served this, and since we all loved it, it became a staple in some homes as well.

What sets it apart is the marriage of chiles and onions with mild cheese. The cheese is broiled and gooey and soft and then suddenly you get the tang of an onion or the bite of a tiny piece of chile.

You really need to use a boring cheese, like Cojack or mild cheddar or regular monterey jack (in the United States). But not Velveeta or American, because those don’t have the proper flavor.

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WEDNESDAY RECIPE is back: Kedgeree

Kedgeree is a dish of the British Raj. The name is an Anglicization of khichdi, which is a mixture of lentils and rice and traditionally vegetarian. The colonizers kept the rice and spices, added  fish and hard-cooked eggs, and voilà, brunch or supper!

This delicious invention/adaptation found its way back to the home country, and now you can find all sorts of upmarket versions, complete with poached fresh fish, cream and even saffron. The comments to the Guardian’s article in its “How to cook perfect [whatever]” series give you a sense of the variety of preparations and the general affection in which this ultimate comfort food is held.

Many recipes call for curry powder, which I don’t stock, but don’t worry, you can make it with your basic set of Indian spices (that’s what curry powder replaces). And if you don’t have smoked haddock or kippers, you can use other types of smoked herring, trout, or the like. Leftover cooked salmon works really well too.

I learned to make kedgeree with basmati rice, but lately I’ve been using this brown rice medley from Trader Joe’s. It’s higher in complex carbohydrates and adds a nutty flavor. I’ve seen similar blends at our local international market as well. If you prefer classic, stick with white rice.

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SATURDAY RECIPE: Corn with coconut milk and spices

When I was a kid in India, this was one of my favorite vegetable dishes, but we could only make it during the fairly short corn-growing season. With frozen corn so easily available you can make it year-round, but I still do it with fresh corn. I found the first local crop of the season in the grocery this week, so I scooped them up and made them for a dinner party.

Kernels from 4 ears yellow or white corn
1 medium yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 large serrano or other hot green chile
1 large clove garlic, minced
1-2 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup cilantro stems and leaves, chopped
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp salt

Slice kernels off cobs; you should have about 3 cups of corn.

Heat canola oil in large saucepan. Add cumin seeds and cook on medium for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and onion and sauté for 10 minutes, until onion has browned around the edges. Add chopped tomato, ground cumin, and ground coriander and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the corn and stir until it is thoroughly combined with the other vegetables and spices.

Beat the yogurt with enough water to make it quite thin (about 1/4 cup). Add it to the pot along with the can of coconut milk and stir until the liquids are well mixed into vegetables. Add in half the cilantro and the salt. Cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the corn from sticking to the bottom.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid, turn up the heat so that it continues to simmer, and cook for another 15-20 minutes, again stirring occasionally . You want to reduce the liquid to a thick sauce. Remove from heat and mix in the rest of the cilantro.

Serves 4-5. This goes really well with grilled meat and fish, or as part of an Indian meal.

Note: Vegans can omit the yogurt and substitute 1 Tbsp lemon juice.

BONUS POST-EASTER RECIPE: Tomato and egg curry

On Twitter, there are lots of comments about what to do with the boiled eggs left over from Easter Egg hunts, baskets, etc. I’m sure you’ve seen the many deviled-egg variations (Amber has a great one here). But one can only eat so many deviled eggs.

Here’s an egg curry recipe that is more or less one that a cousin made for me years and years ago. My grandparents’ house was strict lacto-vegetarian, so no egg dishes. But eggs are a compromise protein for quite a few Indian vegetarians. They’re inexpensive, easy to prepare, and easy to find in the market.

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