My friend Lu went to an Indian cooking class at the CIA in New York and learned a wonderful method to make naan. We were going to make it together, but I was moving my kitchen and she was buying a new house and moving, and it just never worked out. This summer we vowed to do it. This was the week! I love Indian food, and don’t make it often enough. The fragrant scent of the spices as I open the tin, the brilliant colors of the vegetables, and the lingering aroma in the kitchen are all part of the appeal, along with the spicy and complex flavors. I made a couple vegetarian dishes to take along to her house, inspired by a favorite cookbook I’ve had on my shelves for several years. World Food Cafe global vegetarian cooking.
Cooking together again and enjoying the beautiful naan that we baked on an upside down fry pan. (future blog in the making) was the best part of the day, but these spicy vegetarian dishes certainly added to the delight.
Green Vegetable Mallung
prep time: 30 minutes
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 large red onion, sliced
1 large Serrano chile
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 head broccoli, broken into small florets
2 cups coarsely chopped greens (I used swiss chard)
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
large pinch saffron (loosely 1/2 teaspoon)
Salt to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime
Cilantro leaves to garnish
Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the onion, chile, and mustard seeds. Saute until the onions start to brown. Add the squash, broccoli, and greens, along with the coconut milk, Worcestershire sauce, and saffron. Salt to taste. Simmer until the vegetables are tender. Serve with a squeeze of lime and garnished with cilantro.
prep time: 1 hour, plus overnight soaking of the chickpeas
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
about 20 mint leaves
1 large onion chopped
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2-inch cinnamon stick, broken
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons butter, or ghee
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups cooked chick peas (start with 1 1/2 cups dried–soaked over night, and simmer in water until tender)
Water as needed
Salt to taste
In a food processor combine the cilantro, mint, onion, garlic and ginger. Process until finely ground. Set aside. In a small heavy skillet place the cumin seeds, coriander, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and red pepper. Toast over medium heat until fragrant, tossing frequently. Transfer to a plate to cool. Add the turmeric and grind in an electric spice or coffee grinder.
Melt the butter or ghee in a large skillet. Add the wet paste of herbs and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Add the dry spice mix and continue to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste and chick peas with enough water to form a thick gravy. Simmer 10-15 minutes, adding more water as needed. Salt to taste.