Today’s NY Times food section featured a recipe for South Indian Eggplant Curry that looks fabulous. Can’t wait to try it. I love food section day!
Adventures in Indian Cooking… April 1, 2008
With most of the leftover ingredients from my recent successful foray into Indian cooking calling to me from my pantry, I was again enticed to make something Indian to satisfy my cravings for something spicy.
However, due to a distinct lack of paneer readily available, I decided to improvised and see where I could get with some tofu I bought the other day. I probably broke some big rule about indian cooking, but I made Mattar Paneer with tofu instead of paneer. That’s right: Mattar Tofu.
Mattar Paneer is essentially yummy cheese morsels and peas in an aromatic, flavorful tomato sauce and is generally served over basmati rice. By breaking a few rules, I think I have successfully made a shorter, healthier way of making this yummy dish, by using the tofu instead of the paneer and serving it over whole wheat couscous instead of rice.
Permit me to say a few words about couscous. First of all, it’s ridiculously fast and simple. Boil 2 cups of water, turn off the heat, add the couscous and stir, let it sit for a few minutes, and it’s done! And, perhaps more importantly, Hodgson Mill whole wheat couscous I found has added flax seeds, and 6 grams of fiber per 1/3 cups of dry couscous, which I figure is about a serving cooked. Hello! Much healthier than plain white rice. A reasonable substitution in my book.
Here’s the recipe:
2 12-oz cans Del Monte diced tomatoes, pureed
8 oz. extra firm tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
dash of cinnamon
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
8 oz. frozen green peas
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1. First thing’s first: cut up your tofu and and puree your tomatoes so they’re ready to go in, because timing is key.
2. Get a few tablespoons of canola oil nice and hot in a very large saucepan or a medium soup pot. Add the cumin seeds, bay leaves and cinnamon and stir for a few seconds to release the aromas.
3. Add the tomatoes, coriander powder, turmeric, chili powder and paprika, and simmer all that together for about five minutes or so, until the sauce has reduced some.
4. Then add the peas and cook them until done, about five minutes more.
5. Add the tofu, salt, sugar, and use the cornstarch dissolved in water to thicken if necessary.
I also added tomato paste because I wanted more tomato. Serve over basmati rice or couscous.
Does anyone else have cravings for Indian food like me? Should I start up Indian Food Lovers Anonymous? Yum.
Bombay Superstar: Indian Eats From Lakewood March 26, 2008
I love Indian food. I love going to Indian restaurants in Cleveland as much as possible. I get take-out from Cafe Tandoor in Cleveland Heights several times a month – the Paneer Makhani is my favorite – and my new favorite Indian restaurant is Udipi Cafe, at 6339 Olde York Road in Parma. Woah. Talk about amazing, inexpensive Indian food that’s more than worth the drive out there.
For a long time I have wanted to learn to make Indian food myself, and a Saturday road trip to Lakewood brought a serendipitous visit to a well-stocked Indian grocery store, called Indian Food Emporium, at 17796 Detroit Road in Lakewood. My friend and I giddily perused the many shelves of exotic spices, flours, rices and snacks and struck up a conversation with the very friendly and helpful Indian lady at the cash register whose name was Mona Lisa. According to the website, Indian Food Emporium is connected with India Garden in Lakewood, but it’s further down the street.
So, with my cupboard fully stocked with Indian spices, I was determined to make Mattar Paneer, that lovely mix of heavenly mild cheese and peas in an aromatic tomato sauce.
Both Show Me The Curry and Manjula’s Kitchen offered exactly what I needed: cheerful Indian women demonstrating their amazing feats of cookery and cheerfully sharing their knowledge in easy to understand, homemade videos. Armed with the ingredients and the knowledge, I undertook my first courageous forray into homemade Indian cuisine.
They were sold out of paneer at Whole Foods (?!?) but luckily Zagara’s had some middle eastern cheese that sounded similar to paneer, so I decided to give it a whirl.
Manjula’s recipe and methods couldn’t be easier:
Make some Basmati rice.
Slice and fry funky cheese cubes.
Puree tomatoes with ginger and garlic paste.
Saute spices for half a minute, then add pureed tomatoes.
Simmer for a while.
Add some frozen peas and cook those until they’re done.
Then add the cheese cubes in, and voila! Homemade Mattar Paneer!
The whole endeavor took less 45 minutes and the result was fabulous. The feature of this dish is, of course, the paneer cheese. Paneer is made simply from milk, and it is a dense cheese that holds its shape when cooked rather than melting. Yay for us!
Next time I am going to make Poori.