Tuesday has become my weekly cooking day, I make something I can take into work for lunch all week. Last week Jorge made his debut processing the dough for tamales, this week it’s just me, my knives, and a ten litre stockpot. The name we give this week’s dish is “Curry,” for the complex blend of spices I’ll be using. There is a resemblance to some Indian dishes, but this is an “a la Blake” recipe, with international influences.
I’ll be trying a new mix of vegetables this week. My last curry was a dead on Baingan Bharta, my Indian friends at work complimented the smell of the dish but wouldn’t try it, I got that “who does this white boy think he is, making Baingan Bharta?” vibe. So this week will be my own invention, substituting some ingredients and adding others.
Here’s what you need:
1 medium red onion chopped coarsely
2 medium leeks, rinse well and chop coarsely
1 medium eggplant, cubed
2 bell peppers, one orange, one red, chopped coarsely
1 bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 pound okra, cooked (use ghee or a high temperature oil, cook until crisp)
1 pound paneer, cut in 1/2 inch cubes ( if there is no Indian market near you, substitute queso de freir)
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 Bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
12 whole cloves
10 green cardamom pods, crushed
Piece of ginger about the size of your palm, diced
6 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tbsp chili powder
2.5 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp tumeric
You’ll want to serve with rice, I recommend Jasmati rice made with one teaspoon of cumin seed per cup of rice.
Prep your work area first. Cook the okra, chop the vegetables, cube the paneer and set out your spices as follows. In one small container place Bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom. In another small container place the ginger and garlic. In another container place the chili powder, tumeric, coriander, cumin and garam masala.
In a large stockpot, heat three tablespoons of olive oil. Add the leek, cook until tender then add the onion. Once the onion becomes translucent add the Bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. cook for about a minute.
Add the peppers, ginger and garlic, cook until the peppers soften (a few minutes). Reduce heat.
Add the chili powder, tumeric, coriander, cumin and garam masala, stir for about a minute, add the eggplant and tomatoes, stir and cover.
Light the fireplace.
Add the spinach, okra, chopped cilantro, and chickpeas, cover and simmer for half an hour, stirring every five minutes or so. Start the rice, continue simmering the curry.
Sit in front of the fire and open a beer. I chose Nostradamus tonight.
When the rice is done, turn off the heat on the curry, remove the Bay leaves and cinnamon, and add the paneer. Stir well, let sit at least five minutes.
Makes Tuesday night dinner and lunch through Sunday.
This came out a bit bland (for me), next time I’ll increase the chili powder, cumin, and garam masala by at least twenty five percent. There is a pleasant mix of textures and colours, and nutritionally it covers all the bases.
Next week? I’m thinking of roasted vegetables and a soy sauce/orange marinated tofu over cous cous, kind of a Moroccan feel, but anything could capture my imagination. Now if I can just find someone to cook for…