Monthly Archives: July 2011

Spicy & Tangy Tomato Curry (Baghara Tomate)

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Spicy & Tangy Tomato Curry (Baghara Tomate)

Hello & Welcome to This Spicy Life…

Today’s recipe is another from my dear Mother-In-Law. It is a delicious coconut-based curry that is rich in flavor with a spicy bite. This would be a good entrée to serve to a small dinner party along with a mild dal, rice and a simple salad.

Baghara Tomate can be made with cherry tomatoes or any other small tomatoes such as pear. You can also substitute baby eggplants for the tomato (just add about 1/2 tsp more of the tamarind paste to the sauce. Slit the eggplants with a deep “x” on the bottom ends and cook for 15 minutes or longer until tender.) Either vegetable goes extremely well with this curry.

There are several specialty ingredients that may require you to take a trip to an Indian grocery store. If you don’t have one, try a natural foods store or other ethnic grocery. This is an easy recipe but it does have several steps. Just take a deep breath and enjoy the process. You will not be disappointed in the results!

Baghara Tomate

Serves 4

  • 24 oz. of cherry tomatoes (or other small tomatoes)
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut (unsweetened dried or fresh or frozen)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds (or 1 tbsp coriander seed powder)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp chana dal (split yellow chickpeas)
  • t tbsp peanuts, raw if possible and unseasoned
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds (raw hulled or unhulled)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2″ ginger, fresh
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 6 – 10 curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (or to taste)
  • pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
  • salt to taste
Method:
  1. Rinse the tomatoes in water. To each tomato, gently stick in toothpick or the tip of a knife. This will prevent the tomatoes from bursting while cooking. Set aside.
  2. Roast the following ingredients separately in a dry cast iron or other pan until slightly browned, setting aside until all of the ingredients are roasted: grated coconut, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal, peanuts, sesame seeds. Place all of these in the blender or grinder container.
  3. Fry the onions in the same roasting pan. Use a little oil over medium heat, adding the onions when the oil is hot. Stir and cook until they turn translucent. Add to the blender.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic to the blender. Blend everything to a smooth paste, adding a bit of water if necessary. Set aside this masala.
  5. In a large sauce pan, heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the blended coconut masala. Stir at once and reduce the heat to medium low.
  6. Stir in the chili powder, turmeric and tamarind paste and salt. Add enough water (if necessary) to make a thin gravy.
  7. Now add the tomatoes and stir gently. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. The gravy should thicken slightly, but you can adjust the gravy by simmering longer to make it thicker or adding water to thin it out.
  8. Serve with rice and dal. Enjoy!

Not-Your-Everyday-Corn-On-The-Cob

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Not-Your-Everyday-Corn-On-The-Cob

Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life…

Corn, beautiful corn. I just love it when the markets start selling those dark green husks of goodness. When I have fresh corn-on-the-cob, I love to make this curry recipe from my Sister-In-Law. It’s so different from the corn I ate as a kid growing up in Nebraska. Every summer we would get our overdose of delicious boiled corn with butter and salt. Besides the recipe below, corn can be made in so many ways. It can be grilled in the husk with only lemon and salt (and maybe some chili powder) squeezed over the steaming and charred cobs or as a salad sautéed with spices, just to name a few.

This recipe could also be adapted to a Mexican or Italian menu by substituting herbs and/or spices from those regions. You can easily simmer the corn cobs in a nice tomato salsa or a hearty pasta sauce to suit your menu.

The tomato sauce originates with my Mother-In-Law. A few summers ago she was visiting and I had a bumper crop of tomatoes from the garden. We made a huge batch of this sauce and put it in the freezer for future use. It’s a delicious, simple sauce that can be used as a base for many types of curry. It’s best made with fresh tomatoes, but I often make it in the winter using canned tomatoes. 

Corn-on-the-Cob with Spicy Tomato Curry

  • 3 ears of corn (white or yellow)
  • 2+ tsp oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup of onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder (optional or to taste)
  • 3 cups of tomatoes, finely chopped (fresh preferred or canned)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped (or to taste)
Method:
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. (You can use a deep saute pan or a saucepan, but the corn must fit in the pan in a single layer.)
  2. Add the cumin seeds and allow to cook for about 30 seconds until they start to turn just a little darker brown.
  3. Stir in the onions and allow to cook until they become translucent and start to brown on the edges.
  4. Add the turmeric powder and chili powder and stir. Allow to cook for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the tomatoes and salt and turn heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally while allowing to cook down. This could take anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes. Canned tomatoes will probably take slightly longer. If the tomato mixture becomes too dry before it’s cooked down, add about 1/4 cup of water at a time. Cook until the mixture is relatively smooth. There isn’t a lot of oil in this recipe so you won’t see the oil separate.
  6. While the tomato sauce is simmering, strip the corn cobs of their husks, removing all of the silks. You can wash under running water to help remove the silks but it’s okay if a few remain. Break the cobs into 2 or 3 pieces. Set aside.
  7. Taste the tomato sauce to see if you have added enough salt and adjust if necessary.
  8. Stir in the fresh ginger and enough water to make the sauce slightly thin, similar to a thick soup consistency.
  9. Add the corn pieces and stir to cover with the sauce. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. The corn won’t sink in the sauce so you will need to turn the pieces every few minutes to make sure all sides are cooked. You can also add a bit of water as needed to the sauce if it becomes too thick before the corn is cooked through. At the end of cooking, however, the sauce should be cooked down to a thick curry, so be careful of adding too much water or adding water too late.
  10. When the corn is cooked through, remove from the heat. If the sauce is too thin (see step above), take the corn out of the sauce and cook the sauce down to a thicker consistency. Then put the corn pieces back in the sauce before serving.
  11. Serve with rice or as a side dish.  

Summer Salads: Sprouts & Kickin’ Kale

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Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life…

The holiday weekend is upon us. I hope you have a great weekend planned! I’m including two recipes for the (free) price of one today, in honor of the tradition of eating lots of salads and sides with the Independence Day feast. Well, most people do… some people only go for the barbecue!

The first salad is a cold salad made from mung bean sprouts (Indian-style, short sprouts). You will need to plan ahead a bit so that you have your sprouts ready to go when you want to serve this salad. It can take anywhere from 2 to 4 days to sprout the beans. If you are unfamiliar with sprouting, please see the Sproutpeople website. Just use a bowl if you don’t have a sprouter and use the instructions for the 1/4 – 1/2″ long sprouts.

The second salad is a creamy, spicy kale salad and can be eaten room-temp or slightly chilled. It isn’t really an Indian salad, but could still be served alongside an Indian meal.  Kale is one of my favorite veggies but I get bored with the usual preparations. For this recipe, I used Trader Joe’s Tahini Sauce for the tahini, but any plain tahini will work too. The TJ’s sauce has added lemon juice, garlic and salt. Any type of kale will do, but in this recipe I used the dinosaur kale (dark green with flat leaves).

On with the recipes…

Mung Bean Sprout Salad

Serves 2 – 4

  • 3 cups mung bean sprouts, 1/4 – 1/2″ long
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp green chili, finely chopped (optional or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 6 curry leaves (optional)
  1. Pick through the sprouts to remove any that didn’t hatch. These will be extremely tough and could break a tooth if you bite down unexpectedly! It will take a few minutes, but is worth the little bit of work. Any easy way to do it is fill your bowl of sprouts with water and skim off the top layers with your hand. Examine each handful as you place it in your colander, picking out any that aren’t sprouted. Keep doing this until you get to the bottom of the bowl. Then you can just pick out the remaining sprouts and toss the unsprouted beans (or keep them and cook them in some other recipe).
  2. Rinse the sprouts in cool water and drain in a colander or a salad spinner. Try to get off as much water as possible without disturbing the sprouts too much. 
  3. Place the sprouts in a large bowl and add the onion, cilantro, chili, salt and lemon juice. Mix gently.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, remove from heat and set aside until it cools.
  5. Add the mustard seed/curry leaf mixture to the salad and mix gently. Adjust the lemon juice and salt to your taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Creamy Kale Salad with Spicy Sesame Sauce
Serves 2 – 4
  • 6 cups of kale, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp dried red chili flakes (or to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 6 tbsp tahini (or tahini sauce, see note above)
  • 2 tsp tamari or other soy sauce
  • lemon juice to taste
  1. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped garlic and chili flakes and turn the heat to medium-low (so the garlic doesn’t burn).
  3. When the garlic starts to change color, add the kale and about a half tsp of salt.
  4. Stir and cover with a lid. Allow to cook for a few minutes, checking on the kale and stirring every few minutes. Add a few tbsps of water to keep the kale from burning if it seems to be getting dry.
  5. When the kale is nice and wilted and tender, remove from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. (The cooking time can be influenced by the freshness of the kale and how much water was added during cooking, among other factors.)
  6. Remove the kale and any garlic bits to a bowl. Try not to pour too much water into the bowl if there is any left in the pan.
  7. Add the tahini and tamari/soy sauce to the kale mixture and stir. The mixture should have a creamy, smooth consistency. If it’s too thick, then add a bit of water to thin it out. If it’s too thin, add a bit more tahini.
  8. Now squeeze about 1/4 of a lemon over the kale and stir. Taste and add more if you like…
  9. Eat.