Showing posts with label Indian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indian. Show all posts

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Exotic Convenience

I know we usually post actual honest-to-gosh recipes here, but my ability to cook has been seriously compromised this week.

Seriously . . . new job, classes starting, deadline for a book.  Normally, I'd pawn the cooking off on the hubs, but he's joined a new band and been working extra hours.  There's a whole lot of tired in our household.

We've plowed through baked potatoes, vegie burgers, and dressed up frozen pizza.  It's all getting a little old already.  So I made an emergency run to the grocery store this afternoon and came home with a tasty, exotic 10 minute meal.

What did I get?  The stuff for a simple but fundamentally yummy and completely satisfying Indian feast:

  1. Packaged naan.  Naan is a flat Indian bread, similar to pita but softer with a slightly buttery flavor.  My Kroger now carries a display of packaged naan in the bread section of the store, and you can sometimes find it in the freezer section.  Either way, preheat the oven and throw the naan in to heat up for a couple of minutes.  Not kidding . . . a couple of minutes.  Because the bread is so thin, it heats quickly.  If you cannot find naan, try a soft pita, wrapped in foil and warmed in a 350 oven for about 10 minutes.
  2. Ready rice.  Uncle Ben's makes these little pouches of rice that you simply toss in the microwave for 90 seconds.  Ninety seconds!  I picked up basmati, but they also have regular long grain, jasmine, or brown varieties.  It lasts on the shelf for a while, so pick up a few bags, and have a supply on hand for emergency meals.
  3. Tasty Bite Indian entrees.  This particular brand of vacuum packed (in a pouch) entrees can be found at Kroger and World Market.  You may have to look in the health food section instead of the international food section.  Tonight we're having Bombay potatoes (which is a little spicy) and Punjab eggplant (which is a little sweet).  All of the flavors I have tried have been delicious, all are vegetarian, and most are vegan.  Toss the bags in boiling water for five minutes, then cut open, pour, and serve.  Again, these last on the shelf, so stock up for last minute dinners when you have nothing else to serve.
I know all about busy, but busy need not be bland.

And I promise a real recipe next week.  Honest.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Tandoori" Eggplant

Even when the weather is warm, I sometimes like a little hearty comfort food.  This faux Tandoori eggplant fits the bill.

Technically, "tandoori" pertains to food cooked in a tandoor, a round clay oven.  I don't own a tandoor, so here I'm using the term to describe the spice blend I used to season the dish, a blend reminiscent of what would be used in tandoori chicken or chicken tikka.

Don't be afraid of the seasoning blend.  It's not hot-spicy at all, and the juices from the vegetables absorb the spices to make a delicious sauce.

While I don't have a tandoor, I *do* have a microwave, and I used it here to cook the eggplant.  This was a new technique for me, one I found scattered across the internet.  One of the challenges of cooking with eggplant is that it can be bitter.  The salting of the cubes takes care of that little problem, though you usually have to let the eggplant sit in the salt for half an hour, draining.  The microwave speeds up this process considerably.  It also starts cooking the eggplant "dry", so the cubes of veg don't are par-cooked when they go in the stew.  This prevents overly mushy or occasionally slimy eggplant.  No, cooked in the microwave, the eggplant took on a wonderful, tender but slightly chewy texture that was absolutely lovely.

For those of you worried about the onset of bikini season, this is a great dish.  Nary a drop of oil, lots of filling vegetables, protein-packed quinoa, and metabolism-boosting spices.  What more could you ask for?

So before the weather turns so blisteringly hot you cannot even think of turning on the stove, give this a try!  Enjoy.

Tandoori Eggplant

1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced in 1 inch pieces
1 tsp. salt

1 c. chopped onion
4 cloves garlic
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can chick peas (drained and rinsed)
2 zucchini, sliced in half moons
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. vegetable broth
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. chopped parsley
"tandoori" spice blend:
1/2 tsp. each cumin, coriander, ground ginger, tumeric, and salt
1/4 tsp. each cinnamon and cayenne

Rice or quinoa

Toss the diced eggplant with 1 tsp. salt, then spread on a dinner plate lined with 3 or 4 layers of paper towels.  Microwave for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, spray a large pot with a little nonstick spray.  Cook onions over medium heat until starting to turn golden.  Add garlic and the "tandoori" spice blend;  cook another minute.  Add tomatoes, chick peas, zucchini, raisins, and vegetable broth.  Heat to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low.  Add eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and parsley.

Allow all the ingredients to heat and let the flavors mingle while you cook the rice or quinoa.  Serve the stew on a bed of cooked grains.