Monday, August 20, 2012

International Monday - Indian

I have a good friend loves food as much as I do. Although she dabbles in the meat department she usually sticks to eating vegetables and other "weird" food items as often as she can. A couple of weeks ago she invited me to her place for a "french" night where we enjoyed wine and cheese and great company. This event sparked the idea for an International Monday post. A day where a recipe from around the world will be featured, whether it be one from our weekly gathering, or just one I decided on alone. This time, I went solo.

This week, I am going to focus on an Indian-inspired dish. Don't worry, most Monday's the dishes will be pretty common ethnicities... at least for now.

I love Indian food, the flavors and spices are so unique. My favorite indian dish is definitely chana masala. I have made it before, and let me tell you, it is not all that easy. It involves a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps, but it is definitely worth it because the end result is flavorful and delightfully filling.

This time around I decided to make a simpler kind of dish. It actually might not be classified as "indian" but it has some of the same basic ingredients. Cauliflower and chickpea curry is sweet, spicy and savory all at the same time. Sweet from the coconut milk (which I recommend you always have in your pantry), spicy from the curry and other spices, and savory from the chickpeas (another pantry staple) and cauliflower. I had an idea of how to create this dish before I started it, but I decided to do some research for accurate measurements and other tips. I came across this recipe from Epicurious and of course, decided to make my own with the appropriate modifications. The Epicurious recipe used tomatoes and also called this dish a stew, but I'd consider it to just be classified as a curry. When I think of stew I think of carrots, potatoes and meat (blek).

Cauliflower Chickpea Curry
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 can chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 3-4 tablespoons of curry powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of cauliflower florets (mine was roasted from the day before)
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable stock
  • cilantro to taste
Heat oil (of your choice) on medium-high heat. Add onions and saute till brownish in color and fragrant. Stir in curry powder till onions are coated and the powder looks as if it is soaking into the onion (in a way seems to be caramelized). 

Add cauliflower (I prefer my florets to be kind of small) and chickpeas and stir, then add the coconut milk and vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling (you may have to higher the heat for a good boil) reduce the heat and cover. Make sure the liquid is still boiling (light bubbles - or simmer) for about 15 minutes or until the liquid is a little thicker or until the cauliflower is the texture you would like (firm, tender etc.) Stir in the cilantro and serve by itself, with rice, couscous or quinoa. I also top mine with siracha. 

This dish made three or four moderate servings. One day I even put the mix into a tortilla. It's a great dish to make ahead for a busy week, or if you are on a budget.

Like I mentioned before, coconut milk and chickpeas are definitely two essential ingredients you should have in your pantry. Both can be used many different ways and provide unique textures and flavors in different combinations. Chickpeas are of course perfect for homemade hummus and coconut milk is good for soups, drinks or ice cream, in other words another replacement for milk.

One day I will make chana masala again, hopefully it will be as good as the first time I made it. Don't let indian food scare you, it's true that some people don't like the curry flavor, but there are many dishes that are worth trying - meaty or veggie. Don't think you can brave it? At least try some chai tea.

By the way... I think next Monday will be Thai food - but there are still 7 left to decide.

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