Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 28: Indian Food in a New Kitchen (Sort of)

The girls and I embarked on a long-overdue spring cleaning of sorts yesterday. They'd put off really cleaning their rooms and I'd put off really laying down the law with them until things reached a critical mass yesterday. I held out the reward of a cool pet keepsake craft kit with a scrapbook and a photo album which they could do while watching a Pokemon movie.

I must say, that worked as a pretty effective carrot on a stick. You call it "bribery;" I call it "two clean kids' rooms."

While they toiled upstairs, I sorted out all of the stuff from the lower cabinets in my kitchen, ripped out the old contact paper, washed the shelves and applied new contact paper. I tossed out some old stuff hanging around, like a package of beef jerky still lingering from my South Beach Diet days (won't be needing that anymore), an old can of soup which I believe we actually moved with us up from Maryland 8 years ago, and a seasoning packet for pasta salad that had hardened into a solid lump of salt. *shudder*

Now my flours are all in nice containers, nicely aligned, my rices and grains are nearby, everything looks nice, although I could devote an entire post to how un-Martha I am. I'm pretty sure that some other chick has taken the title of the "Anti-Martha," and although I do not smoke, and believe it or not, don't really drink much anymore either, I am the idea of the Martha who's got a strong drink on the counter, a cigarette smoldering in the ashtray and a stream of curses flying out of her mouth as she struggles with the contact paper.

That contact paper is the devil.

Although my cabinets are all in order, the top of my counter is a different story: jars of at least 8 kinds of nuts, seeds and trail mixes squeezed in what small space can be found between the blender, food processor and juicer - each of these vital to my daily routine. If I can dredge up the will to do it, I'll go through the upper cabinets and reorganize things there so I can shift the jars of nuts up there and give me back some counter space.

Of course I'd probably just clutter it up with the food dehydrator which I've been dying to use. Some of the raw food cracker recipes look mighty tempting, but that thing is a monstrous space-hog.

We'll see. At any rate, I was looking around for vegan recipes for cauliflower when I stumbled on this: Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen. The critical ingredient for this dish is a Bengali spice blend called Panch Phuran. Despite a trip to Wegman's early yesterday, I seemed to be fresh out of this stuff. Fortunately for me, we do have a few Indian groceries in my area. A quick trip through Google later and I was nearly salivating on my keyboard, ready to roll down the hill to get to Kashmir's and sample their vegetarian samosas, rotis and naan. I'm trying my best not to go out to the store for specialty items every day though.

My craving for Indian food now completely stoked, however, I have been poring over Indian food blogs and recipe sites seeking out recipes I could make using what I have on hand, when it occurred to me that I already have a tried and true recipe for Cauliflower and Chickpea Balti that I could adapt. I've been heavy on the chickpeas lately, in fact, today's lunch was a hefty dose of Sabra Chunky Hummus and an assortment of raw veggies. Delicious. If you haven't tried their hummus, do yourself a favor and pick some up the next time you're wheeling past the kalamata olives, baba ganouj and feta.

Anyway... to keep from overdoing it on the chickpea quotient, I thought I'd satisfy another craving and add red lentils to this recipe.

Cauliflower and Red Lentils in Balti Sauce

  • ¼ cup red lentils
  • ½ t turmeric
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 cup of water

  • 2 Tb vegetable oil
  • ½-in piece ginger, minced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 T chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • ½ t turmeric
  • ¼ t chili powder
  • ½ t paprika
  • ½ t garam masala
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
  • 1½ t salt

  • ½ head of cauliflower cut into fourths
  • fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
  • garam masala (optional)

  1. Rinse the red lentils well, then drain. Place them in a pot with the salt and turmeric and 1 cup of water, bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent.
  4. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the garlic, ginger, tomato, cilantro, cumin, turmeric, chili powder, paprika, garam masala, bay leaves, cardamom pods and salt, cover and simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the bay leaves and cardamom pods, add the cooked lentils and cauliflower, cover and simmer until the cauliflower is just tender.
  6. Stir in the coriander. Just before serving, sprinkle additional garam masala on top. Serve with flatbread or over basmati rice.
This makes 4 sizeable servings.

  • I had to cook more lentils to add to the sauce. By the time the cauliflower had finished cooking, there was no sign of them, so I turned off the heat and cooked some more red lentils.

  • The original recipe also had green chili peppers in the sauce, but that was on ingredient I didn't have. This recipe is deliciously spiced, but not spicy. The chilis add a wonderful heat to it, so if you want it hotter, go for it. :)

  • The next time I make this, I'll make a lot more lentils and add them last, when the cauliflower has finished cooking.

  • When I heated these leftovers up, I added some chopped pickled green chillies (mirch achaar), because I wanted some heat. Excellent. I went on to use some of them in the straight in the curry sauce when I made aloo gobhi instead of jalapenos.


Weekend Carnivore said...

I am a bit of a chickpea freak too. I can never have enough hummus in my These lentils really do look good though!

B said...

Thanks! It really is good. I've made it a few times since I posted this and keep increasing the amount of red lentils each time!

As far as chickpea-love goes, my new obsessions is roasted chickpeas.

My God.

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