Category Archives: curry

Tempeh Potato Pepper Curry with Pickled Onions

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Hello! It’s been a long time since my last post. I have been very busy with garden things and kid & school things. I have been tweeting a bit, in case you want to follow me there just look for thisspicylife… I usually re-tweet interesting nutrition articles, garden info and other inspiring stuff.

Yesterday I hosted a huge garden work day at our school garden as part of an Eagle Scout Project. We worked pretty much all day rebuilding raised beds and moving soil into the new beds. We had a lot of help from a local Boy Scout Troop #127 and our school parents and community volunteers. It was such a great day with beautiful weather and nice people. See the end of this post for some pics of our garden remodel.

I really worked up an appetite because today I was ready for a rather substantial (for me) breakfast. It turned into brunch by the time I got it made and ready to eat, though this is a pretty quick dish to make. We had some leftover pickled onions from the weekend, so added these to the plate along with some yummy grits seasoned with nutritional yeast. The leftovers will be made into burritos. It was the perfect addition to this non-spicy curry. If you want the onions, you should plan ahead. Or just make a batch and find ways to use them! They are a pretty pink color and delicious (if you like onions). Here is the tempeh recipe:

Tempeh Potato Pepper Curry with Pickled Onions (Serves 4)

1/2 package of tempeh, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 large baking potato, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 orange bell pepper (or other color), cut in bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped kale
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
pinch of garam masala (optional)
salt to taste

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and allow to heat a bit before adding the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start to toast, add the potato pieces and a bit of salt, stirring the potatoes to coat with the oil. Cover with a lid and allow the potatoes to cook, stirring occasionally. When the potatoes are almost cooked through, sprinkle with the turmeric, coriander powder and cayenne pepper and stir well. Add the tempeh, pepper, kale and garlic. Continue cooking and stir frequently until the tempeh is heated and the pepper is cooked to your liking. This should take just 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the pinch of garam masala and additional salt to taste. Serve with pickled onions over grits, rice or with bread of your choice.

Pickled Onions

1 red onion
1/2 cup of vinegar (any kind you like)
1/2 cup of water
pinch of salt

Peel the onion and cut in rings. Loosen the rings and place the rings in a non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the onion and add the vinegar (we used white vinegar) and water. Allow to sit for an hour or up to two days before using. These can be used in sandwiches, as part of an appetizer tray with other veggies, on pizza, or just on the side of any spicy curry. The longer they pickle, the better they taste. Just keep ’em in the fridge.

Here are some pics of our garden remodel:

Rebuilding the raised beds with cinder blocks…Boy Scouts in yellow shirts. The blocks will get painted later by the students.

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Some artichokes growing in the garden… can’t wait to harvest!

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One of our hard-working volunteers!

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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.  

Simple Tomato Curry with Aloo Parantha

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Simple Tomato Curry with Aloo Parantha

Hello & Welcome to This Spicy Life…

Today I’m featuring one of my husband’s recipes. He has adapted it over the years, though it is probably similar to many tomato curry recipes out there. His is much simpler and is definitely my favorite! This is best made with fresh, homegrown tomatoes but can also be made with store-bought tomatoes. This just might inspire you to go and plant one or two tomato plants this summer!

We usually eat tomato curry with aloo parathas. It is equally delicious with mooli (daikon) parathas or even rice. The combination makes for a simple, home-style lunch or dinner. I’ll post the aloo paratha next week.

Notes: You may want to remove the tomato skins before cooking if you are serving this for guests or if the tomatoes have very thick skins. Tomato skins actually contain fiber and nutrients so I normally don’t remove the skins. To remove the skins: bring a pot of water to boil. Slash a shallow “X” in the bottom of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for a minute. Remove the tomatoes to cold water. Slip off the skins.

Simple Tomato Curry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 6 large ripe tomatoes (about 4 cups chopped), washed and cut into pieces (approx. 1″ x 1″)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 green chilis, finely chopped (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • pinch of sugar (optional)
Method:
  1. Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and cook for about 1 minute. They will start to turn darker brown.
  3. Stir in the onions and allow to cook until they start to turn translucent.
  4. Stir in the garlic and green chilis and cook until the garlic is fragrant and the onions start to turn brown at the edges.
  5. Add the tomatoes, salt and sugar (if using) and turn the heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes just start to break down, but still hold their shape.
  6. Taste for salt and serve with parathas or rice.

Zippy Zucchini Koftas with Aromatic Tomato Sauce

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Zippy Zucchini Koftas with Aromatic Tomato Sauce

Hello and Welcome to This Spicy Life…

Zucchini – what’s not to love? From the quirky name to the tender, summery taste. It’s extremely adaptable and can be used in all types of cooking. I love to make a quick stir-fry in a little bit of olive oil and garlic, but I love even more to make (and eat) little vegetarian “meatballs” called Koftas. They are hearty and flavorful and make an excellent entrée. Koftas are sometimes very firm, sometimes soft and tender. They are almost always served with a sauce of some type – tomato, cream, butter and even spinach or other green sauce.

Not only is this an easy recipe, it looks impressive. The sauce is flavorful and spicy, with varying layers of heat and savory spices to compliment the koftas and rice. This is a good recipe to make when you have guests since you can make the koftas and sauce ahead of time and put them together right before serving. However, don’t let the koftas sit in the sauce for too long as they will become mushy and soak up all of the sauce.

Zippy Zucchini Koftas with Aromatic Tomato Sauce

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients for the Koftas:

  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini, washed and grated
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 to 2 cups chickpea flour (besan)
Method for the Koftas:
  1. Place grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Set aside for a minimum of 10 minutes, allowing the moisture to drain away from the zucchini. Squeeze out as much water as possible and place the zucchini in a bowl.
  2. Add the chopped onion and all of the spices and baking powder and mix together well.   
  3. Mix in 1 cup of the chickpea flour. Add more chickpea flour a little bit at a time to make a fairly thick batter. There should be plenty of moisture in the zucchini and onion so that you don’t have to add water. If for some reason it is too dry, just add a tiny bit of water to make a thick batter. It should be able to hold the shape of a ball but not be too stiff. Taste the batter for chili and salt level and adjust to taste.
  4. Heat a pan of oil for deep-frying (usually deep-frying is done at 350F). Very carefully drop the batter by the spoonful into the hot oil and fry for 3 – 5 minutes (this will depend on how wet your batter is and the size of your koftas). Turn the koftas to ensure even browning and remove from oil when they are evenly browned. If you aren’t sure if the kofta is cooked through, test one before frying more. Drain the cooked koftas and set aside.   
Ingredients for the Tomato Sauce:
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1″ piece of cinnamon stick (or scant 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder)
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 /2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 3 cups tomatoes, chopped (use fresh or canned)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • pinch of sugar or agave (optional)
Method for the Tomato Sauce:
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Add the cumin seeds, cloves, peppercorn and cinnamon and stir around for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the onions and garlic and allow to cook until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  4. Stir in the cumin powder, coriander powder, chili powder and turmeric and allow to cook for 30 seconds longer. Add a bit more oil if things are starting to stick.
  5. Turn the heat to medium low and stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and sugar/agave (if using). Allow to cook until the tomatoes are nicely reduced to an almost smooth sauce. You can add a bit of water if the tomatoes need more time to cook. This step can take anywhere from around 10 minutes to 30 minutes. 
  6. Turn off the heat. Carefully remove the cloves and cinnamon stick (if used) from the pan. 
  7. Remove about 3/4 of the sauce to a blender and mix until smooth. Return the blended portion to the pan and stir together. (I do this so that the sauce remains a little bit chunky. If you want a totally smooth sauce just blend the entire batch of sauce. Alternatively, you don’t have to blend the sauce at all or you could use an immersion blender to get the consistency that you like.)
  8. Add water to the sauce if it is too thick. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.
  9. About 3 minutes before serving, add the koftas to the sauce. Serve over rice or with naan. (Don’t let the koftas sit in the sauce for too long as they will become mushy and soak up all of the sauce.)   

Coconut Stuffed Baby Eggplants

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Coconut Stuffed Baby Eggplants

Hello and Welcome to This Spicy Life! Thanks for stopping by – sorry that I have been absent for too long. I’m posting a recipe that I made almost a month ago. I was recently surfing around some other food blogs (for inspiration, ideas and fun) and noticed that a lot of people have posted similar recipes in the last month. I’m thinking that this must be the season for baby eggplants! Or maybe other people feel the same way and just can’t resist these beauties…

My version of Coconut Stuffed Baby Eggplant is inspired by a few recipes by different authors. Some recipes use onion, some don’t use coconut or sesame seeds. My recipe isn’t totally new, but I think that mine has more shortcuts and a few different ingredients that combines for a nice flavor. Stuffed Eggplant is a wonderful South Indian dish that goes well with rice, a simple dal and a salad. In my picture, I served it with Rasam, Toor Dal and Kale Saag.

Coconut Stuffed Baby Eggplants

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 – 12 “baby” eggplants (small, round, purple variety)
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut (unsweetened, desiccated)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne or red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds or peanuts
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 2 -4 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 shakes of hing (asafoetida) (optional)
  • 6 curry leaves (optional)
Method:
  1. Heat a heavy, cast iron or other skillet over medium heat. When hot add the coconut, coriander powder, cumin powder and cayenne/chili powder. Stir together and let roast until the coconut starts to get specks of brown. Remove from the pan to a blender.
  2. Heat the sesame seeds/peanuts in the same pan until lightly toasted. Remove and put in the blender. Reserve the pan for later.
  3. Add the tamarind paste, salt and 1/4 cup of water to the blender and mix. Add more water if necessary to make a thick paste for stuffing.
  4. Wash the baby eggplants well in water. The stems will be kept intact unless they aren’t in good shape (in which case, remove the stem very close to the top of the eggplant).
  5. Cut the eggplants in quarters from the bottom toward the stem, but not all the way through – stop cutting about 1/2″ from the top or the stem. 
  6. Working quickly (so the eggplant doesn’t start to turn brown), use your fingers to stuff the eggplants on all cut sides with the stuffing. This is messy, but just get as much in there as possible and then close the four pieces back together a bit to hold the stuffing. The stuffing is really for flavoring, not to fill you up, so don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like it has a lot of stuffing. Fill all of the eggplants this way and set aside. Reserve any leftover stuffing. 
  7. Heat your cast iron pan or other skillet again over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp of oil and the mustard seeds. Allow to start popping and then add the cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves (if using). Stir around.
  8. Immediately place the eggplants in the pan and turn the heat to medium low. Sprinkle the left over stuffing on top of the eggplants. Add a bit more oil to the pan if the eggplants are sticking.
  9. After a minute, carefully turn each eggplant so that it starts to brown on another side. Keep doing this every minute or so until all surfaces are browned (be careful not to burn).
  10. Place a lid on the pan and reduce the heat to low. Allow to cook for about 5 more minutes (checking after 3 minutes) until the eggplant flesh is soft and cooked through. This timing depends on the size and age of your eggplants, it could take longer if your eggplants are very large or on the older side.
  11. Serve with rice, dal and salad. 

Chole Enchiladas with Roasted Jalapeno

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Chole Enchiladas with Roasted Jalapeno

Hello and welcome to This Spicy Life…

A few weeks ago I made Chole Enchiladas – a perfect fusion of Indian chickpeas curry and Latin whole wheat-corn tortillas.I thought this would be a great recipe to honor Cinco de Mayo that is coming up in a few short days.

I used a variation on my recipe for chickpeas curry posted here. You can use your own recipe or mine, just make double the recipe for the sauce so that you have sauce left over to pour over the rolled up enchiladas. The chole that I made was already spicy but made extremely spicy with the roasted jalapeno peppers added to the filling. If you want less spice, just remove the seeds and maybe use less jalapeno.

Chole Enchiladas with Roasted Jalapeno

Serves 4

  • 1 recipe chole, made with doubled sauce
  • 1 cup potato, minced
  • 6 whole wheat-corn tortillas or other tortillas (6″ – 8″, not the huge burrito size)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8″x8″ or similar baking pan by rubbing with a bit of oil. Set aside.
  2. Roast the jalapeno peppers: there are many methods to do this. I put mine over direct gas flame and kept turning until the skin was blackened. (You can oil them and place under a broiler or put them in a cast iron skillet and turn them around over high heat.) Once roasted, set aside until they are cooled. Then with the back of a knife (the dull side), scrape off most of the charred skin. Don’t rinse under water as this removes much of the flavor. Chop into bite-sized pieces. You can remove the seeds if you find them too hot. Be careful to wash your hands well after handling the jalapeno! Set these aside until step 6. 
  3. Prepare the sauce part of your recipe for chole / chickpeas curry and remove all but 1 cup of sauce and reserve until step 7.
  4. Add the minced potato to the 1 cup of tomato sauce. Allow to simmer until almost cooked through. Add a small amount of water if it becomes too dry.
  5. Add the reserved chickpeas to the potato mixture and simmer for 10 minutes, adding a bit of water as needed so it doesn’t stick. However, this should be a very dry curry at the end of the cooking time.
  6. Stir in the chopped jalapeno and 3/4 cup of chopped cilantro. Taste for salt/seasoning and set aside.
  7. To the reserved portion of the tomato sauce, add a little bit of water to make a thick gravy consistency (if necessary). Set aside.
  8. Wrap the tortillas in foil and place in the oven for a 5 minutes. They will get a little heated and more pliable. 
  9. Into an oven-proof casserole dish pour 1 cup of the reserved sauce. Spread over the bottom.
  10. Take one tortilla and spread approx. 1/2 cup of the chickpeas on the center. 
  11. Roll up and place in the casserole dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and pack tightly together. 
  12. Pour remaining tomato sauce over the rolls – be careful to get sauce all over the tortillas (they may become dry if they aren’t sauced). 
  13. Cover with an oven-proof lid or foil. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until heated through.
  14. Remove from the oven. Remove lid or foil. Allow to stand for 5 – 10 minutes.
  15. Serve with chopped onion, cilantro, chopped avocado and lemon wedges.