Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Recipes Galore!

So, at the request of several people, I am posting recipes for the contents of my Diwali bento. Keep in mind that much of Indian cooking is based on personal tastes, so the exact amount of spice will vary depending on your personal preference.

Aloo Muttar (potatoes and peas)
This is a pretty standard recipe, and can vary depending on which ingredients we have on hand.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seed
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, diced
salt to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
3 medium red potatoes (1 lb), peeled, cooked & diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup water
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
cilantro (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on med-high heat. Add the cumin seed and sizzle it 15 to 30 seconds.

Add the onion, cook until golden brown. Stir in tomatoes, salt, cayenne pepper, and turmeric. Stir fry until tomatoes are softened.

Stir in the remaining ingredients except the Garam Masala. Heat until it's boiling and reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer about 5 more minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in the Garam Masala.

Patta Gobi (cabbage)
Again, feel free to vary the spices based on your personal tastes.

Makes about 6-8 servings

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 head of cabbage, chopped
1-2 tsp mustard seeds (I really like mustard seed, so I always use a bit more)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
salt (to taste)

If you use a whole head of cabbage, you will need to use a pretty big pan. We use a large wok-style pan.

Heat the oil and mustard seeds over medium-high heat. Sizzle the mustard seeds 15-30 seconds. Add the cabbage. If your pan is overflowing with cabbage, reduce the heat to about medium, and just put the lid on until the bottom layer wilts a bit and you have more room to stir. Then add the remaining spices and stir in. Now just put the lid on and stir from time to time. It should take about 10-15 minutes until all of the cabbage has started to wilt. If it is taking longer, increase heat to medium-high. Some people prefer the cabbage a little crisp (shorter cook time), and some like it really wilted (longer cook time).

Sooji Halwa
For this we actually just use Cream of Wheat as the sooji.

Makes about 8-10 servings

1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tbsp crushed cloves
1 tsp crushed cardamom
3/4 cup Cream of Wheat or sooji
1 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp slivered almonds

In a saucepan, heat the water and sugar over high heat. Bring it to a boil, and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved in the water (this makes a nice syrup which ensures that the sweetness will be even throughout the halwa).

While the water is boiling, melt the margarine in a large saucepan over med-high heat. Add the Cream of Wheat and stir occasionally, until the Cream of Wheat begins to turn a reddish-brown. It doesn't have to be a uniform color, unless you really like it toasted.

When the sugar water is ready, pour it into the large saucepan containing the Cream of Wheat. Add the cloves, cardamom, and almonds. Let it cook until the water is completely absorbed. If it is still a little watery, just keep cooking and stirring, trying to let most of the water evaporate.

Once the water is absorbed, take off of the heat and transfer to a dish (like a glass pyrex dish). Pack the halwa into the pan, making about an inch-thick layer (it may not fill up the whole pan, that's okay). What you are doing here is getting the halwa to cool in a way that it will be easy to cut into little squares. Allow to cool about 20-30 minutes.

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