The Sensitive Kitchen

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chole Panir Masala (Paneer and Chickpeas Masala)

I cook my own chickpeas - they absorb the flavors of the masala so well when fresh and hot - and use the cooking water to make the masala for this dish. If you are crunched for time, substitute 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, and some water or vegetable broth... and consider investing in a pressure cooker!

Please also note that the amount of cayenne in my recipes is to taste. I cook for children, so by necessity, everything is mildly spiced. If no children will be eating this dish, you may wish to double the cayenne; if you're accustomed to Indian food, by all means triple it.

Note: made this dish again, omitted chana masala powder in favor of 1/2 tsp garam masala and 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper.

1 cup dry chickpeas, cooked, liquid reserved
2 Tbsp ghee, divided
14 ozs paneer, cubed
3/4 tsp black mustard seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 red onion, diced
1 tsp garlic paste (or very finely minced garlic)
1 tsp ginger paste (or very finely grated ginger)
1 tsp coriander powder
3/4 tsp cumin powder
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cayenne, or to taste
1 c crushed tomatoes
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp channa masala powder
2 tsp amchur, or to taste (optional)
2 Tbsp cilantro

In a large, flat-bottomed saute pan, or a large wok, heat 1 Tbsp ghee over medium-high heat. Saute paneer until golden brown. Remove.

Add remaining ghee; when it shimmers, add mustard seeds, cover immediately, and cook until popping subsides. Add curry leaves; when crackling subsides, add red onion. Cook until softened.

Add ginger and garlic; cook a moment or two. Add spices; cook until fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, and at least 1 cup cooking water from chickpeas (to taste). When liquid comes to a simmer, add chickpeas. Simmer a few minutes.

Add paneer; simmer a few more minutes. Remove from heat, stir in channa masala powder and amchur, top with cilantro, and serve.

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Gobi Patta Aloo Subzi (Cabbage and Potato Dry Curry)

This dish gets its distinctive tang from amchoor, a powder made of dried green mangoes. If unavailable, you can substitute lime juice, to slightly different results. But it's worth picking up a small jar of amchoor (sometimes spelled amchur); it is commonly used in many north Indian curries, and I find myself craving the flavor fairly regularly. Garam masala is nothing more than a blend of spices; it's easy to pull together your own in a pinch, as long as you have a well-stocked spice cabinet.

1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp asafoetida
1/2 medium cabbage, sliced
2 medium potatoes, quartered and sliced
1/2 tsp salt, to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cayenne, to taste
3/4 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
1/2 tsp garam masala

Heat oil over high heat in a large wok, saucier or wide-bottomed saute pan. Add cumin seeds; when browned, add asafetida. Cook for 2 seconds. Add potato slices in a single layer. Reduce heat to medium-high; cook without stirring for a few minutes until potatoes are browned on one side. Add cabbage; stir well. Add salt and all the spices except amchoor and garam masala.

Mix well; turn heat to low. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until potato is tender. Add amchoor and garam masala; increase heat and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Serve with paratha, chapati or roti.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Orecchiette with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

I made this for dinner tonight. It was unbelievably delicious. Neither of my children would eat it.

sad, sad leftovers

3 red bell peppers
1/2 lb orecchiette pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 small red onion, chopped
Salt and white pepper
1/2 tsp bouillon concentrate (optional, but adds depth of flavor)
1/2 c half-and-half
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
Romano or other hard grating cheese

Cut bell peppers in half, removing stems, white ribs and seeds. Place skin side up on a sheet pan lined with parchment. Broil 4-5 minutes or until skins have almost completely blackened. Remove from oven, cover sheet pan with a dishtowel and let stand at least 10 minutes. Slip blackened skins from peppers and discard. Roughly chop roasted peppers. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving a bit of cooking water.

While pasta cooks, saute garlic in olive oil over medium-low heat for 30 seconds, or until garlic begins to become translucent. Add red onion; increase heat to medium and cook until translucent. Add chopped roasted red peppers; saute a moment or two to blend flavors. Season with salt and white pepper. Remove to a food processor or blender jar. Add bouillon concentrate and half-and-half; puree until smooth. Return sauce to pan; keep warm over low heat.

When pasta is cooked, stir it into the pot of sauce. Mix well, separating any pasta ears that have stuck together. Dish pasta evenly into four bowls. Top with pine nuts and basil. Using a vegetable peeler, shave Romano cheese atop pasta. Serves 4.

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