Saturday, March 8, 2008

Recipes - For Anna and any other adventurous souls out there

This entry is mainly the recipes Anna had asked for. I'm feeling quite self-important, now that she's asked me for a recipe. I'll have to warn you though, I'm a bit of a fudger when it comes to cooking. You'll know because I'll be adding my short cut tips.


Note: Everything that's marked with a * is optional. Most spices can be found in Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi stores.

1. Spinach Kofta - Spinach Dumplings
spinach/other greens - 1 bunch, chopped
chick pea flour - 1 cup
*turmeric powder - a pinch
*cumin seeds (jeera) - 1 tsp
*onion seeds (kalonji) - 1/2 tsp
oil - enough to deep fry dumplings
salt - to taste

Wash the spinach and pat dry.
Add the chick pea flour, salt and all other ingredients.
Sprinkle water little by little till a loose dough forms (think cookie dough consistency).
Heat the vegetable oil in a deep fryer.
Drop spoonfuls of the mix into the hot oil. Koftas are cooked when they appear golden brown and/or the oil stops sizzling. Place the koftas on paper napkins to drain excess oil.

These can be eaten just as they are. They freeze well too. They can be cooked with the onion-tomato gravy and served as a side with bread/rice. To make the side: Dilute the onion-tomato gravy with water or cream/milk. Add the koftas, and cook on low heat till the koftas cut easily with a spoon.


2. Basic Onion-Tomato gravy: makes enough for a side to serve 4 people
Yellow or White Onions - 2 large, chopped
*Green pepper - as much as you can take
Tomato - 2 large, diced
Ginger - inch long piece, julienned
Garlic - 2 cloves
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp, or more if you really like it spicy
Salt - to taste
Oil - 3 tbsp
*Milk/Cream - 1 cup

Heat the oil in a wok on medium heat.
Toss in the pepper.
Add the ginger. Fry a couple of minutes. Then add the onions. Fry well, stirring occasionally, till the onions are browned.
Add the garlic, and fry a couple of minutes more and then put in the diced tomatoes, salt and spices. Cover and cook till the tomatoes are done. Check occasionally, adding water if the gravy seems to be drying up and the tomatoes are still not done. The gravy is ready when oil separates and floats on top of the gravy. Blend the gravy with a hand blender if you want an even, smooth consistency. Add milk/cream and cook a few minutes more.


The basic tomato gravy is a staple in many North Indian dishes. It can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour to cook the onions/tomatoes, and for the gravy to thicken. When I've got unexpected visitors, I use substitutes to get things done faster:
Dried onions - from Costco/Sam's - Used instead of fresh onions. Brown them in a little oil, add water/milk and blend. Then add tomato paste or pasta sauce instead of fresh tomatoes, and cook for a few minutes till the gravy thickens. Milk or cream takes away some of the artificial redness that comes with pasta sauce or tomato paste.
The dry koftas can be made in advance. But they get really soggy if they're left in the gravy for too long. So cook only 15-20 mins before you're ready to eat.
You can make the koftas with other substitutes too - kale, watercress, shredded cabbage.

No comments: