27 August, 2012

Mexicanized Indian Cuisine

I have been craving Indian food for months!  Living in a small town there are not really a lot of choices in terms of "exotic" cuisine.  Not to mention that Mexican food is so diverse, you don't really get bored very easily.  But I usually get a terrible craving for Indian every few months and when we lived in Napa, CA I would head to my home town of Davis and eat at my favorite Indian Restaurant; Kathmandu.  I went to school with the kids of the owners and became close friends with their circle of friends.  Most of them are from Northern India and so the cuisine is more Punjabi style.  So when I want Indian food I really want Punjabi food. It is what I know and I absolutely love the vegetarian dishes.

Thankfully many of the spices used in Punjabi cooking are readily available in Mexico, even in a small town. <Phew!>  The only item I was unable to locate was Coriander Seeds.  In Mexican cuisine it is much more common to add the fresh stuff: Cilantro...so that is what I did.  The other thing I could not find was "Wheat Flour".  Now Flour is made from Wheat...obviously.  But when we say we want Wheat Flour in the States we mean the brown stuff. So,  I did not get to make my favorite staple to Punjabi Cuisine; Roti.  I broke the rule and made Rice instead, which is not very common in Punjabi cooking.

Here are my Mexicanized Recipes of some simple Punjabi classic dishes.  To prepare these dishes you will need Garam Masala.  You can make a quick and easy mix on your own using ground spices, but if you have access to them I highly recommend purchasing Whole spices, toasting them and then grind them in a spice grinder, into a fine powder.  It is also possible to purchase a premix Garam Masala at many grocery stores.

Garam Masala (measurements are for ground spices)
2 Bay Leaves (if you do not have a spice grinder, omit)
1 Tablespoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon Cardamon
1 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Cloves
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg

Dal Makhani
250 grams Black Lentils cooked in 2 cups vegetable stock
5 Tomatoes
1/4 Onion
1 Serrano Chile (seeded, optional)
3 Cloves Garlic
1 inch Ginger, grated on a micro-plane
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 Tablespoon Chopped Cilantro
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 - 1 Cup Cream
Salt to taste

This dish is traditionally made with black lentils cooked until mushy, and kidney beans.  I omitted the kidney beans and used white lentils because it was what I had on hand. 

Start the Lentils first, cooking in 2 cups Vegetable Stock over low heat.  It takes about 20-30 minutes.  We like Lentils al dente, but feel free to cook them more if you prefer.
In the blender puree together the tomatoes, onion, chile, garlic and ginger until perfectly smooth.
Pour the puree into a deep sauce pan, add the Garam Masala, and Cilantro.  Simmer over low heat until the puree has reduced and it starts to thicken, about 25 minutes.
Add the cooked lentils and any leftover Vegetable Stock.  Simmer together for another 5 minutes or if you prefer something thicker reduce some more.
To finish the dish add the butter and cream, simmer for another 3 minutes.  Salt to taste.
Serve preferably with Roti or over Rice.  Garnish with Chopped Cilantro and drops of Cream.

For a lovely video of someone preparing this dish go HERE.  She really explains each of the ingredients and how to use them!

Aloo Paratha
Dough Ingredients:

Filling Ingredients:
3-4 Boiled Potatoes, Grated
2 Tablespoons Oil
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
Serrano Chile, finely chopped
1/2 Bunch Chopped Cilantro
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
Salt to Taste
1/2 teaspoon Lime Juice

This is traditionally a breakfast dish.  But I thought it might make a fun side dish to some Chicken Tikka Masala.

Mix together the flour and salt. Drizzle with Oil.  Slowly add cool water until it forms a firm dough.  Set aside to rest.

Grate the boiled potatoes with a cheese grater.
Toast the spices in the dry pan. Then saute the Chile, and Onion in the oil.
Add the grated potato and cilantro stir together thoroughly and season with salt.
Transfer to a bowl, add the lime juice.  Then let rest for 20 minutes.

Roll the dough into a log and cut into equal sizes.  On a floured surface roll out the dough into round disks.
Place a golf ball sized ball of filling in the middle of the dough round. Slowly and carfelly gather the edges, twisting and pinching them together at the top and twisting off any excess.
Pat the dough/filling ball into a thick round and carfelly roll out again with a rolling pin.  Pierce air bubbles that form with a fork and seal the hole.

On a hot comal or frying pan toast the Paratha.  When you flip the Paratha over spread with butter.  Butter the other side once it is finished.
Serve with your favorite chutney.

To see a video of the whole process go HERE.  I really like this guy!  He is a little wordy, but when you are making a dish for the first time, it is kind of nice to have someone explain to you in "Sesame Street".

Chicken Tikka Masala

This is a simple recipe and a nice video to go with it.  Maybe a little too Americanized for my taste, but it works in a pinch.
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