Friday, April 29, 2011

Indian Vegetarian Dinner

Now Playing- Jai Ho By: A.R. Rahman

When my "everyday" fails to provide me with something new and different, I head for the kitchen to see what thrill I can saute, julienne, mash, bake or broil.  Like Dr. Maya Angelou, I find not only excitement in my kitchen, but peace, rest, and comfort like a door that is always left slightly ajar. 

Recently, I have discovered Dr. Maya Angelo's book on CD called, hallelujah! the welcome table.  This definitely has provided me with my daily dose of excitement!  Did you know that Dr.Angelou is a fabulous gourmet cook?  She has been known to put together a meal that tastes so good that people such as Oprah and MFK Fisher are amazed!  

Can you imagine what it would be like to dine with Dr. Angelou?  What would you talk about?  I wouldn't know where to start!  Would I focus on the work that so beautifully emanates from her kitchen or the art that flows from her pen? 

As you begin to chop and simmer, inhale deeply and become aware of how the spices make you feel as the unusual blend (unusual to me, rather) of spices begin to percolate on your stove.  Notice how the aroma not only delights your senses but how it nourishes your soul.  

 Sarah and I decided to wear bindis in order to fully immerse ourselves in the Indian experience.  What fun we were having in the kitchen!
On this particular evening, Sarah and I (in spirit) were transported to India via cardamom and garam masala.  
 Giggling with laughter, we simmered to our hearts content that evening.  The Taj Mahal was gorgeous, by the way!

Spicy Indian Chickpeas

Picture from

Recipe from

  • Yield Serves 6 to 8

  • Inrgedients

    • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups), plus 1 small onion, sliced, for garnish
    • 8 cloves garlic, minced (2 tablespoons)
    • 1 3-inch-square piece of peeled fresh ginger, minced (3 tablespoons)
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 3 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained (1 cup liquid reserved)
    • 1 large tomato, sliced in wedges, for garnishing
    • 3 hot fresh green chiles, sliced lengthwise and seeded, for garnishing


    1. Heat large skillet and swirl in the oil. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute until soft and lightly golden, 5 to 6 minutes.
    2. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, garam masala, cumin, coriander, cloves, cayenne, and salt. Add to the onion mixture; cook and stir in the spices to lightly toast, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another few minutes to combine. The color should be dark red.
    3. Add the chickpeas plus the cup of reserved liquid. Stir to combine. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, removing the cover in the last few minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for a minute to allow the beans to soak up the spice flavors. Season with salt to taste.
    4. Serve in a shallow bowl garnished with the sliced onion, tomato wedges, and slices of green chiles.
     The spices...
    The spicy Indian chickpeas 
    White Rice with Pistachios

    Picture from

    Mad Hungry, September 2010
    • Yield Makes 2 quarts


    • 2 cups favorite long-grain white rice
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
    • 3 cups water


    1. Place the rice and salt in a medium saucepan. Add the water and briefly stir just to distribute evenly. Don't over-stir or you will release the starches and have gummy rice.
    2. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible temperature and cover the pot. Let the rice steam for at least 20 minutes, until it has absorbed all the water. It'll be fine if left a little longer, but avoid burning the bottom of the pan. Let the rice sit, covered, off the heat until ready to serve (up to 30 minutes). Fluff with a fork and serve.

     I love the nutty flavor of the pistachios, rice and spices. It felt as If I had ordered this from a fancy Indian restaurant, or something. I sprinkled cilantro, roasted sesame seeds and pistachios atop the white rice.

    Mango-Cardamom Lassi

    Picture from

    Mad Hungry, January 2011
    • Yield Serves 4 to 6


    • 1 cup ice
    • 1 1/2 cups mango, chopped
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 1 cup plain yogurt
    • 4 teaspoons sugar, to taste
    • Pinch of ground cardamom


    1. Put ice, mango, milk, yogurt, sugar, and cardamom into a blender and blend for 2 minutes, then pour into individual glasses and serve.

    I decided to make this partially non-dairy by adding the coconut milk.  I love my coconut milk!
    I added some plain yogurt...
    And a few mangoes too...
    Mmmm...this mango cardamom lassi acted as both drink and dessert.

    ~Dinner Was Served~


    Anonymous said...

    Looks and sounds delicious

    Anonymous said...

    The James Beard Book Awards Committee's 20 Essential Books to Build Your Culinary Library recommends the following:

    Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni (William Morrow Cookbooks, 1980). That is, if you want to delve more deeply into this wonderful cuisine. This is the best book so far on the subject.

    Anonymous said...

    Here is the complete list of the 20 cookbooks:

    American Cookery (1996), James Beard

    Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking fronm the Heart of Mexico(2007), Rick Bayless

    Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (2004), eds.

    Classic Indian Cooking (1980), Julie Sahni

    Complete Techniques (2001), Jacques Pepin and Leon Pererr

    Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (1995), Marcella Hazan

    How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Good Food (2006), Mark Bittman

    The Joy of Cooking (2006), Irma S, Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker

    The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook (2003), eds.

    Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts (1999), Maida Heatter

    Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres Handbook (1999), Martha Stewart

    Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 (2001), Julia Child

    The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking: Techniques and Recipes (1996), Barbara Tropp

    The New Food Lover's Companion (2007), Sharon Tyler Herbst

    The Oxford companion to wine (2007), Jancis Robinson

    Rick Stein's Complete Seafood (2004), Rick Stein

    The Silver Palate Cookbook (2007), Sheila Lukins and Julie Rosso

    The Thrill of the Grill: Techniques, Recipes and Downhome Barbeque (2002), Cheis Schlesinger and John Willoughby

    Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (2007), Deborah Madison

    The Way to Cook (1993), Julia Child
    The above includes books on techniques, general cooking, regional cooking, reference, and books on specialties. This is the "must have" list, best of the best in each category. I think you have many of them.