kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
[personal profile] kindkit
Something I've cooked recently: Earlier in the week I made pork vindaloo in one of Raghavan Iyer's gentled-for-the-westerner versions (#2 in 660 Curries), which has cashews and coconut milk as well as garlic, chiles, and vinegar. On another day I cooked Spicy Potatoes and Spinach With Blackened Chiles and Coconut Milk, for which the recipe is under the cut:

1 pound baking potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, and submerged in a bowl of water
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon panch phoron (a spice blend made with 2 measures of fennel seeds and 1 measure each of cumin seed, fenugreek seed, mustard seed, and nigella seed)
3 dried hot red chiles, stems removed
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup coconut milk
8 ounces fresh spinach, washed and coarsely chopped

Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chiles, cook until they are darkening and you can smell them, add the panch phoron and cook for another 10-15 seconds until the spices are aromatic. Immediately add the drained potatoes (you may need to cover the pan for a minute afterwards if there's a lot of spattering). Give everything a stir until the potatoes and spices are well mixed, then cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Add the salt and turmeric. Add the coconut milk and stir, deglazing any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasonally, until the potatoes are tender.

Add the spinach and cover the pan again for a couple of minutes, until the spinach has wilted. Stir and serve.

My notes: I made a double batch, with two large baking potatoes and two sweet potatoes, and used a 10-ounce block of frozen spinach (which, because of the water in fresh spinach, is actually more spinach than the recipe calls for--I did not think this was a problem). I had to add water a couple of times during cooking, so keep an eye on the thickness of the sauce. And I actually thought the dish needed more chiles, which is a first for me with an Iyer recipe. YMMV.

Since panch phoron is so aromatic and lovely, today I cooked a dal of chickpeas using basically the same dried chiles + panch phoron + coconut milk spicing as the potato dish, but with some shredded dried coconut (soaked in water for a few minutes to rehydrate) and some tamarind concentrate for sourness. Result = very good, although I may have overdone it a bit with the panch phoron, as the fenugreek seeds can be a little bitter in large quantities.

I used black chickpeas (kala chana) in the dal, since I have some dried and I'm trying to make use of the stuff that's in my pantry. In dried form they look quite like little dark brown rocks. As Iyer recommends, I washed them, covered them with hot water, and let them soak overnight at room temperature. Then I stuck them in the slow cooker yesterday morning before work, in which they cooked, and cooked, and cooked, and cooked. They were in the slow cooker for almost 30 hours altogether, until about 11 this morning, and honestly I don't think another 12 hours would have done them any harm. They were cooked through, certainly, but they still had a chewy texture and a tough skin. I don't know if those are just inevitable features of this type of chickpea, or if it's to do with how hard it is to cook beans at my altitude (about 7000 feet or 2100 meters).

To accompany the dal, I made rotis! That's a first for me--I get nervous about anything requiring dough to be rolled out. But they actually weren't difficult at all, just time-consuming. This is another recipe from 660 Curries.

Whole Wheat Rotis aka Chapatis

2 cups atta flour (aka roti flour or chapati flour, a finely ground whole-wheat flour; all western whole wheat flours that I've seen have a much coarser texture)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
3/4 cup warm water
Melted ghee or butter

Mix the flour and salt. Add the water a little at a time, stirring until the dough comes together. You want a soft but non-sticky dough. Knead it for a bit until you get a nice smooth dough, then wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for half an hour.

Form the dough into a log about 12 inches long and cut into 12 portions. Cover the extra portions with plastic wrap while you shape the rotis.

Form a piece of dough into a ball and then flatten into a patty. Dusting with a little flour as needed, roll into a round about 6 inches across. Larger and thinner is fine if you can manage it, but you don't want the dough to be too thick. If you can't roll the pieces out to 6 inches across, you may need to let the dough rest some more.

Put the completed round on a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap and cover with another one. Roll out another round and stack it on top of the first. Just be sure to keep a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper between each round.

Heat a griddle or heavy pan over medium heat. Drops of cold water should sizzle when it's ready. As the pan is heating, melt the ghee or butter in a small pan and keep a pastry brush handy. Also, put out a big sheet of aluminum foil for the cooked rotis.

Drop a roti into the hot pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until the bottom looks done and has some golden brown spots. The top may have a few bubbles. Flip over and cook on the other side for 15-20 seconds. The roti should puff up, though it will deflate when you take it off the heat. (Iyer has complicated instructions about turning the roti over either directly onto the flame of a gas range or into another pan, but I have an electric stove and only one skillet.) Put the cooked roti on the aluminum foil and brush on one side with some ghee or butter, and fold the aluminum foil over it to keep it warm. Continue until all 12 are cooked.

Cooked rotis, unbuttered, can be frozen. Iyer says you can also refrigerate the portioned dough for up to 4 days.

Also, although I hesitate to call this cooking, I, er, assembled these no-bake chocolate peanut butter bars. I didn't add any peanut butter to the chocolate layer, and because the brand of peanut butter I use (Trader Joe's) is pretty soft, to get the right consistency I ended up using more graham cracker crumbs and a bit more sugar. I probably didn't need to, because once refrigerated the peanut butter layer firms up like whoa, but the extra graham cracker crumbs in particular are not a bad idea. These are delicious in their incredibly middle-American way, and console me for the failure of the peanut butter brownies I tried to bake the other week. (Said brownies are reposing in the freezer, as I hate to throw food away and hope they can be salvaged, crumbled, as an ice cream topping.)

Something I've got concrete plans to cook soon: I'm thawing out some ground pork for pork and soft tofu with preserved vegetable, which I plan to cook tomorrow. I don't actually have any szechuan preserved vegetable on hand, but I have kimchi, which I'm sure will work fine.

In the fridge I have bread dough fermenting, to rise overnight and be baked tomorrow. This week it's County Fair White Bread, again from Kneadlessly Simple. Last week's buttermilk bread was nice, but the buttermilk powder was hard to incorporate into the fermented dough. I thought I'd done okay, but there turned out to be some clumps of buttermilk powder in the finished bread. And the salt on the crust attracted moisture that soon made the crust soft. Next time I'll skip the salt topping and be more careful about the mixing.

Something I idly plan to to cook in the future: I keep thinking of things I can cook with what I have in the pantry, which is good because due to unexpectedly large bills this month, I have no money for the next three weeks. Luckily I have a good supply of staples such as rice, beans, flour, and noodles, plenty of spices, and some meat in the freezer. Red beans and rice are still a plan, as is a potato and corn chowder, maybe some chicken soup, maybe some polenta, and Iyer has a recipe for papads in yogurt sauce that I want to try, and etc. etc.

Date: 2014-02-15 08:59 am (UTC)
st_aurafina: A shiny green chilli (Food: Green Chilli)
From: [personal profile] st_aurafina
I have used panch phoran! In this: Cauliflower dal with panch phoran. We've got spinach coming up aplenty at the moment, so your recipe sounds like a good option to try. (And I always thought roti were yeasted - how interesting!)

Could you stir the brownies into an ice-cream like cookies and cream? (If that's a thing you like?)


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