I’ve been all about simplicity lately. The days are long and hot, which has had me dreading turning on the oven for more than a few minutes, and my work schedule has been crazy (I’m up to 30 hours already and it’s only Wednesday morning!!) […]
My little garden finally produced it’s first meal-sized crop the other day, and I went straight to the kitchen with it!
There were fingerling eggplants, fresh onions, and bucket-loads of bok choy. I added some garlic and ginger from my fridge, whipped up my favorite apricot sauce, and I had me a stir fry.
You could easily add tofu or meat to this, just make sure you cook it first before starting the veggies. I really just loved how the garden fresh veggies tasted all wrapped in rice noodles and apricot goodness. Honestly, nothing is better than a meal straight from the garden.
I also used coconut aminos in here, instead of soy sauce, so that the whole family could enjoy. Either one works fine though! If you don’t have apricot preserves on hand, you can sub them for pineapple or a tbsp of orange juice concentrate with a squirt of honey. I’ve done it all three ways, and it’s delicious no matter what!
I like rice noodles with this because it keeps the dish light, if you prefer rice though, feel free to cook up some fluffy white rice on the side and spoon the stir fry over that when it’s done. I read somewhere that you can add your ginger peels to the rice water while it’s cooking to give your rice just the faintest aroma of ginger. I need to try that now because it sounds absolutely amazing!
The veggies in here are fairly flexible, as a general rule just don’t overdo it. Keeping the dish focused on a few key veggies is typically tastier than having a whole mess of veggies in there, which makes it harder to distinguish between all the different flavors. If you have tons of different veggies try a different combo every night! Stir frys are awesome like that! 🙂
- 3 Tbsp Soy Sauce (or Coconut Aminos)
- 2 Tbsp Apricot Preserves
- 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1/2" cube Ginger, minced
- 1 tsp Crushed Red Chili Flakes
- 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- 4 small Fingerling Eggplant, or other small eggplant
- 4 leaves Bok Choy, green and white parts seperated
- 2 Spring Onions, white and green parts seperated
- 1 small Head Broccoli
- 4 oz Rice Noodles
In a container that has a tight sealing lid, combine the sauce ingredients. Put on the lid, shake well to combine and set aside.
Cut the white parts of the bok choy into 1/2" pieces, on a bias. Cut the Fingerling eggplants into 1/2" pieces on the bias. Cut the white parts of the onions into 1/4" pieces, on a bias. Cut the broccoli into bite size florets.
Chiffonade (thinly slice) the green part of the bok choy and onions. Set aside one Tbsp of the green onion for garnish.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and drop in the rice noodles, making sure they are fully submerged. Cover the pot and let the noodles soften while you make the stir fry.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium high flame. Add eggplant and cook for 2 - 3 minutes or until first side has started to brown. Shake the pan, or use a spoon to stir up the eggplant, and then add the white parts of the bok choy and onions.
Cook another two - three minutes, or until onions and bok choy have started to soften, and pick up some color. Add the broccoli and stir to combine.
Stir in the green parts from the bok choy and spring onions (except for the reserved Tbsp), cook just until beginning to wilt.
As soon as the bok choy begins to look wilted pour the sauce over the veggies, stirring frequently, when the liquid is almost completely evaporated (1 - 2 minutes) turn off the heat.
Strain the noodles and stir into the hot veggies, serve, garnishing with reserved spring onions.
I know I’ve said it before, but my goodness are there a lot of different Indian breads!
When I first started this crazy project of cooking through every Indian bread ever, I had a list. I have since crossed off at least as many items as were on that original list – but my list is actually longer now then it was then! So what’s the problem? It seems that the more research I do, the more I learn just how many types, and variations of types of Indian breads that there are. Needless to say, this has turned into a bit more of a project than I had originally anticipated.
But guess what. I’m loving it. I have learned SO MUCH in the last couple weeks! It’s opened my eyes techniques and methods that I didn’t even know I was missing out on. They say that one of the best ways to learn about a culture is through it’s food, and it’s so true! Food really is what brings us together, and I’ve had so many good conversations with folks from around the world who are willing to share their knowledge with this crazy Minnesotan girl who has a hankering for Indian cuisine!
One of my most recent discoveries (please don’t roll your eyes, I know this is probably common sense to many) is that roti, isn’t actually a specific type of Indian bread, so much as it is a generic term for unleavened bread. So all this time that I’ve been spending trying to figure out the exact difference between roti and chapati, it turns out that chapati is actually a type of roti! Go figure! The main thing that I have been able to find which makes chapati unique is that it is made with 100% whole wheat flour, and left a bit thick, like a thick tortilla. I actually used my tortilla press to make this with fantastic results!
Chapati should be soft, but strong enough to scoop up some hearty curry, and delicious on it’s own smothered in ghee, or stuffed with paneer, palak or lehsun. I’m still working on getting a good method down for stuffing rotis (and chapati’s) and you can believe me that when I do, I’ll be sharing it asap! But until then, if anyone has a good method that they have used to stuff rotis without making a huge mess, I would love to hear your tips!
- 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour, Sifted to Remove Bran
- 1 tsp Salt
- 3/4 - 1 Cup Luke Warm Water
Whisk the salt and sifted flour together. Make a well in the flour and pour in 3/4 cups of water. Use your fingers to combine. Add more water if necessary. The dough should be soft, but workable.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for about 5 minutes until a smooth, soft dough ball forms. Cover with a damp towel and set aside for 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each piece into a smooth ball by cupping the dough in the palm of your hand and pressing down gently on the counter as you roll. Pinch the seam at the bottom shut, and set the dough balls aside, seam side down. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest another 15mn,
Heat a cast iron skillet or non stick pan over medium high heat. Working with one chapati at a time roll out to a little under 1/4" thick. A tortilla press works great for this! Place the chapati in the hot pan and press down with a spatula while the first side cooks. It may puff up a bit in places, just press down on the air bubbles gently when they appear.
When the first side is splotchy brown, flip the chapati over and finish cooking the other side, until it is also speckled with brown. You may need to adjust the heat to get an even golden brown, although a few darker spots are fine!
Take the chapati out of the pan and place on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining chapati, layering paper towels between them to soak up any moisture. If desired you can brush with ghee right after removing from the pan!
Chana dal is one of those easy recipes that should be a staple in my diet, but until now, I’ve just never gotten around to working out a good recipe. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, I’ve always just been a little too scared of cooking dal from scratch to try it. I mean, the extent of my ‘dal’ experience before this was green and red split lentils, and those just aren’t the same. You basically look at a red lentil funny and it turns to mush. They’re also nearly impossible to under cook.
Chana dal is different, it holds it’s shape better and takes a longer cooking time. I guess for some reason in my mind that equated to ‘hard to cook’. But I can now 100% positively affirm there is nothing challenging about cooking chana dal, if you can add water to a pot and turn on a stove-top, you can successfully make this dal!
I used my immersion blender to puree the masala. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a regular blender, just be very careful transferring the mixture!
Amchur powder is a fantastic Indian spice made from dried mangoes, it imparts a subtly sweet and savory flavor to the dal, you can find it at almost any Indian grocer, on Amazon, and even at some larger stores. Fenugreek seeds are also relatively easy to come by, I got mine off Amazon, but I’ve seen them at Indian grocers as well. If you can’t find them, just skip them. Same with the asafoetida powder – it’s a very unique flavor that can’t easily be replicated, so if you can’t get it online or in a store, just leave it out.
Rinsing the dal plays a critical role in not only the final texture of the dish, but also to remove any impurities that may have found their way onto the seeds. I poured it into a strainer, and then set the strainer over a pot so I could see when the water was running clear.
The turmeric in with the cooking water for the dal is totally optional, I like it because it gives the finished dish a bright pop of color, but you can skip it easily without sacrificing any flavor!
As far as chana dal itself goes, any Indian grocer will have it in bulk, otherwise you can find it online, and even many large grocery stores carry it now. It’s also called split chickpeas, but to be honest, I don’t think it’s the same as a garbanzo bean, the halves are just too small to be from the same plant.
- 1 cup Chana Daal (Split Chickpeas or Bengal Gram)
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric, ground
- 3 medium Tomatoes
- 1 medium White Onion, minced
- 2 Thai Green Chillies, minced
- 5 cloves Garlic, minced
- Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
- 1-2 Red Chili, dried (Thai or Serrano)
- 1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds (Methi)
- 1/4" Turmeric, skinned and roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1/2 tsp Amchur Powder (Mango)
- 1/4 tsp Asafoetida Powder (Hing)
- 1/4 cup Cilantro, roughly chopped
Pour the dal in a strainer and rinse well until the water runs clear. Transfer to a bowl and soak the dal in a quart of room temp water for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Rinse the dal again and add to a medium pot with 3 cups of water and the ground turmeric. Cover and bring to a low simmer. Simmer about 45 minutes or until dal is tender. Set aside.
While the dal is simmering, heat a heavy 4 - 5 quart dutch oven, to medium-high, add the cumin, coriander, chilies, fenugreek and turmeric. Toss over the heat until they are very fragrant, but not burnt about 45 seconds. Immediately remove from heat and allow to cool for a bit.
Add all the spices to a spice grinder and pulse several times until they are ground to a fine powder. Set aside.
Bring two quarts of water to a boil in the same pot. Drop in the tomatoes, one at a time and allow to cook for 30 -45 seconds. Remove to a clean plate and cool. Using a paring knife core the tomatoes and slip off the skins.
Pour out the tomato water and bring a splash of vegetable oil to medium high heat in the dutch oven. Add the onions, chili and garlic and saute until lightly browned.
Add the tomatoes and smash down a few times to break them up. Turn the heat to medium low, cover the pot, and cook until the tomatoes are broken down and liquid is reduced to about half (around 10 minutes)
Uncover and reduce heat to low. Using an immersion blender puree to a smooth consistency. You can also carefully transfer the masala to a blender, puree until smooth, and the return to low heat in the pot.
Once the dal is tender and the sauce is reduced to desired thickness, stir the dal into the masala and bring back to medium heat. Cook until heated through.
Stir in the tempered spices, salt to taste, top with cilantro and serve.