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Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘Indian

Monica Bhide’s Morel Pulao with Cashews

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Morel Pulao with Cashews.

I don’t cook Indian often at home, but it’s not for lack of love of the cuisine, and especially, its fragrant spices. I reviewed Ragavan Iyer’s tome while at The Sun and just met this Indian chef extraordinaire at the recent IACP conference in Portland. But lately I’ve been most fascinated by the fusion recipes of Monica Bhide, who regularly writes for The Post‘s food section and NPR’s Kitchen Window. And her newish Modern Spice cookbook is a gem. Mark Bittman wrote the introduction.

Because morels are the most tempting wild mushroom now in season, Bhide’s Morel Pulao with Cashews grabbed me. I’ve made it twice now, both times without the exact ingredients on hand. I substituted sauteed chanterelle duxelles for the morels the first time and used fresh ones this second time. Didn’t have paneer on hand to use either time, and I had trouble “stuffing” the morels without causing them to crumble. Still, this aromatic, flexible basmati rice dish makes an excellent side or even main dish with a salad. Sauteeing the cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, grated onion and ground cashews together creates quite a comforting perfume. This is delicate Indian comfort food. The recipe is also less complicated than it sounds. Maybe next I’ll tackle South Indian masala dosas, with their fermented crepe batter. But for now, a rice pulao is a nice place to start. Click below for the recipe.

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Written by baltimoregon

May 31, 2010 at 1:36 am

Craving Cardamom: in My Cookies, Oatmeal, Applesauce, Quince Paste and of, course, Chai Tea

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Green vs. bigger black cardamom pods. Both are fragrant and yum! (by FootoosVanRobin/Flickr Creative Commons)

Candied Ginger (with Cardamom) Bars.

I seem to put spicy-sweet Indian cardamom, which most people associate with chai tea, in just about everything these days. The peppery spice (seeds contained in green or black pods) always appeals to me. I knew of green and black varieties but didn’t realize cardamom falls into the ginger family Zingiberaceae (makes sense since the two spices go so well together). I recommend buying your pods whole and then using a mortar and pestle to crack them and grind the inner seeds. Cardamom has a powerful aroma but it fades rather quickly after the spice is ground, I’ve learned. It’s shocking to buy some fresh and compare its pungency to that of the forgotten jar that’s sat on the shelf.

So where should you start in your cardamom adventure? It melds magically with butter and sugar in cookies. Try these Candied Ginger Bars I just made (the butter is worth it) with gobs of crystallized ginger. They reminded me of the also butter-rich Honey and Cardamom Cookies (with ground almonds as part of the flour) when I reviewed The Spice Bible cookbook for The Sun.

My cardamom-laced oatmeal.

The fresh apples still in season also beg to be dressed up with cardamom. This weekend, I mulled my local apple cider with whole cardamom pods, star anise, nutmeg, cloves and a cinnamon stick. I jazzed up steel-cut oatmeal with grated apples (thank you, S-I-L Julia!), freshly ground cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, crushed walnuts, flax seeds, maple syrup, and dried coconut. I’ve heard it takes some folks a while to warm up to potent cardamom. This is a good place to start. I also threw some into applesauce and the quince paste I concocted, although in the case of the later, it may mask some of the quince’s subtle flavor.

How have you been cooking with cardamom these days? In Indian dishes, to be sure. In your chai tea, though you might not even know it. I cheated and drank some from the boxed mix tonight. I keep meaning to get around to brew my own chai blend sometime. I used the stickier seeds from larger black pods earlier this fall for a Rajasthani eggplant recipe. Indian ethnic markets are great sources of big bags of cardamom pods for cheap. Now I just challenge you to use them quickly, before the spice loses its magical but fleeting verve.

Written by baltimoregon

December 14, 2009 at 12:12 am

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Purple Things

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Rajasthani Eggplant from Vij in Vancouver

Rajasthani Eggplant from Vij in Vancouver

Ripening pinot noir at WillaKenzie.

Ripening pinot noir at WillaKenzie.

Everything’s coming up purple these days. Eggplants. Blackberries. Plums. Pinot Noir grapes. Of course you wouldn’t know it looking at the picture of my Rajasthani Eggplant (with some leftover ofkra) dish. This aromatic Indian stir-fry featured lots of enticing spices — black cardamom seeds, asofoetida, green mango (amchur) powder — but way too much ghee (clarified butter). I made a special trip to the local Indian store for these far-flung ingredients, to be paired with local eggplant and the last remaining red onion from the garden. I would recreate this dish, with less fat. Vij’s is Vancouver’s famous Indian restaurant that we didn’t get to. We were too busy with the unparalleled Japanese cuisine there. Vij must have a regular column in The Globe and Mail. See other eggplant curry recipes from him here and here (with papaya, oh-la-la).

Then there are purple beans from the garden sitting the fridge. I’m not sure pickled beans are my thing. But I’m still refining my process. Fermentation, rather that quick pickles with vinegar, is what’s currently captured my imagination. I’m brining just a quart jar of red cabbage with caraway and celery seeds. It smells funny after just a few days, but hopefully that’s natural. The white film on top of the pickles apparently is!

Purple beans (among others) from my garden.

Purple beans (among others) from my garden.

Purple cabbage kraut.

Purple cabbage kraut.

And the purple grapes are weighing down vines at wineries across the Willamette Valley. Dan’s colleague gave us his tickets to attend an open house at WillaKenzie Estate Winery in Yamill last week. Then the New York Times just so happened to name their wine the best value of Oregon’s pinot noirs (at @$27, it’s still not cheap!).

Other purple things? Italian plums to dry into prunes are plopping on the sidewalks here. I’ve borrowed the OSU extension service dehydrator to try some. Our next-door neighbors have a prolific tree whose fruit they shared last year. And purple fruit is even turning up in beers here. We finally sprang for the $7 Growler Sundays special at Block 15 and filled it up with, what else, boysenberry wheat beer.

Plum-mertime.

Plum-mertime.

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Written by baltimoregon

September 4, 2009 at 12:36 am

There’s No Place Like Home for Indian Food (in Corvallis)

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Really Lovely Red Lentils with Ninkasi Brewery (from Eugene) Domination IPA

Really Lovely Red Lentils with Ninkasi Brewery (from Eugene) Domination IPA

Sadly, we weren’t enthralled with the meal we had at at Nirvana, the newer Indian restaurant in Corvallis. Dan said the Lamb Vindaloo and Mushroom Mattar sauces tastes ketchup-y. We’re heard the other place here, Evergreen, isn’t that great, but at least they do have South Indian veg dishes like Masala Dosa. How I miss the Woodlands in Charlotte, perhaps the best Indian I have had in the U.S. And I loved the thali Indian tapas-style lunch specials at Indigma in Baltimore.

For now though here, we’re content to cook Indian at home. Tonight I whipped up a really simple red lentil curry dish I found in The Thymes, the monthly newsletter of our food co-op. (See the recipe below). I only used one can of coconut milk, adding more water instead, and substituted some leftover scraps of collards and kale instead of the swiss chard. Throw any vegetables in the bin in! I also made cucumber raita as a condiment to give the dal more creaminess.

lentils

Written by baltimoregon

January 25, 2009 at 3:16 am

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