Archives for category: Curry

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Friday night I saw the the film The Lunchbox, a love story of sorts centered around Mumbai’s incredibly efficient lunchbox delivery system. If you watch this movie hungry your stomach will be grumbling throughout, craving the mouth-watering curries that the lucky character Saajan gets to eat each day for lunch. It also made me want to remake my red lentil tarkaspicy coconut curry, and quick curry.

But this post takes a different tack. Inspired by the craze of cross-pollinating baked goods all over this town I read Julia Moskin’s story in this week’s Times with interest. I can’t really say or write “scuffin” without smirking (cronut is easier for some reason), so I’m not calling these that. These are basically muffins filled with jam. I didn’t include the cream from the original recipe although I’m sure that would be tasty (I just rarely have cream on hand and it didn’t seem totally necessary here). I also added whole grain rye flour instead of using all-purpose pastry flour, making for a richer, slightly denser flavor that I like, kinda the philosophy of Tartine’s Book No. 3, on baking with whole grains.

If you’re avoiding butter and eggs (I’m looking at you my vegan friends) you could substitute coconut oil for the butter, and half a mashed banana for the egg. Check out this post for a few different vegan egg replacements for baking. And if you use the coconut oil instead of butter, use 1/4 c additional coconut oil instead of the olive oil that’s called for below, that will just keep for a more consistent flavor.

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Whole Grain Muffins with Jam
adapted from Julia Moskin, The New York Times

4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing muffin tins
1 c whole-wheat flour
3/4 c rye flour (you can use all-purpose or any other type you like)
1/4 c wheat germ
3 tbsp raw sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 c whole milk
1/4 c olive oil
approx. 1/2 c of your favorite fruit jam

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease 12 muffin cups with butter and set aside. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt the butter and add to the dry ingredients, mixing with a fork until just combined.

In a separate bowl whisk together the egg (or 1/2 banana if using), milk, and olive oil, and add to the dry ingredients until just combined.

Scoop the dough into the muffin tins, reserving about 1/4 of the dough for topping. Make a small well in the dough and drop in a spoonful of your favorite fruit jam. Using the remaining dough cover the tops of the muffins, across the top you can scatter a little sugar, or flax seeds, or poppy seeds, crushed nuts might be good too.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until browned. Let cool then, using a butter knife, transfer out of the tins to a rack.

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Yields 12 muffins

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I am the first to admit that I am somewhat of a whimp when it comes to cold weather. Not like LA whimpy where you pull out a puffy down coat around the 60-degree mark (I did live in Vermont and Ithaca after all), but this time of year I do start to wonder when the heat will come on in my apartment, how long I can stay in the shower each morning, and what’s an acceptable number of hot beverages to consume before noon. My eating habits change quite a bit too. I trade in the green smoothies and raw salads for warmer, more comforting fare. And this soup is no exception.

This is one of the simplest soups to make. Not quite as easy as the avocado soup I made this summer, but not as time-consuming as this black bean soup I made back in January. It makes good use of the beautiful late-harvest squash at farmer’s markets this time of year and provides just the right amount of warmth and spice to help you ease into fall.

The secret weapon of this soup is the roasting. Not just roasting the squash—which adds more flavor and richness than sautéing—but you’re roasting an onion and whole small head of garlic that also gets puréed into the mix. Shazam! This soup gets its bright color not only from the butternut squash but the turmeric that’s in the curry powder or garam masala. The coconut milk adds a luscious richness and depth, and the red chile pepper flakes kick the heat factor up a notch. Oh, and don’t discard those squash seeds! Toast them on the baking sheet with the squash for about fifteen minutes and then serve with the soup, if there are any left after you snack on them warm from the oven. Key word: warm.

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 4

1 large butternut squash, or 2 small
1 small head of garlic
1 onion, any variety
Olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 c unsweetened light coconut milk
1 1/2 c vegetable stock
3/4 tbsp curry powder
Red chile pepper flakes
Salt
Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the squash into quarters, discarding the stringy bits in the center and setting the seeds aside. Place the squash, flesh side up, on a baking sheet. No need to peel. Place the garlic, skin and all, on a small piece of tin foil and drizzle with olive oil, and then wrap the garlic entirely in the foil. Place on the baking sheet. Slice the onion in half and add to the baking sheet as well. Drizzle the squash and onion with oil, salt, and pepper, and place in the oven for 50 minutes to an hour. You may need to remove the onion earlier than the squash.

2. While the vegetables are roasting, rinse the seeds and pat dry. About fifteen minutes before pulling the vegetables out of the oven, place the seeds on the baking sheet. They will roast and turn brown. Remove before they get too dark, about 15 minutes.

3. Remove the vegetables and seeds from the oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle, transfer the flesh of the squash to a blender or food processor, along with the onion and the roasted cloves of garlic. You should be able to just pinch the roasted garlic from its skin. Blend until smooth, adding a little bit of broth if needed.

4. Transfer the purée mixture to a large pot on the stove, stirring in the coconut milk and rest of the broth. Let simmer on medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, adding the spices and seasoning to taste. Serve with the toasted seeds, and, if you’d like, a dollop of crème fraîche. I also served with a salad of green Boston lettuce, pears, walnuts, sliced grapes, and an olive oil-tahini dressing. If I had blue cheese, that would’ve been in the salad too.

Lentils can be quick. Let me prove it to you. I worked from home yesterday and in the time it took me to get ready to go to a noon yoga class I had prepared a dahl with rice.

I’ve written before on dahl but that was a little more labor-intensive and time-consuming than this quickie meal. This meal, while it can be put together in a snap, still has plenty of payoff: filling, satisfying, and spicy, these lentils go great with steaming basmati rice and a side of greens.

I’m not sure how or why, but dahl is one my ultimate comfort foods. Given that I grew up on pb&j and fish sticks, this isn’t necessarily intuitive, but it’s now a given. Once I discovered I could make my own at home, well, the rest is history.

And one of the best parts about this dish was I had everything on hand and did not consult even one recipe. I worked from memory and guessed on the amounts of everything.

If you have garam masala on hand it will make this meal all that faster. If not, you have a couple of options. Either use what you have and make the best of it: turmeric powder and ground cumin will go a long way. If you have coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, whole black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and the time and patience, I’d recommend quickly toasting these in a small cast-iron skillet, then grinding in a spice or coffee grinder. You can see my recipe here for a homemade curry powder, or garam masala.

Any lentils will really work here, except maybe French green lentils, which I’d use more for salads than dahl. I used the red lentils I always have on hand—the pinch of turmeric is what turns the dish yellow. I threw in half a veggie bouillon cube for flavor, but you definitely don’t need to.

The key to making this dish, and making it seem effortless, is getting everything cooking in the pot, then forgetting about it while you go do something else for a while, like some downward dogs.

Curry in a Hurry

Makes 4 servings

1 tbsp olive oil, butter, or ghee
1 medium onion, diced
2 dried red chiles
1 tbsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 c water
1 c lentils, rinsed and drained
1/2 bouillon cube, optional
salt, to taste

In a large, sturdy pot, heat your oil or butter over a medium flame, then add the diced onion. Cook the onion for about 5-10 minutes; you can leave the lid partially on to speed along the cooking and avoid the onions smoking. Once the onions are translucent or starting to brown, add a dash of salt, 1 or 2 dried red chiles, depending on how much heat you like, the garam masala, and turmeric. Give it all a stir.

Add 1 c of water and the lentils and turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, you can add the bouillon if using, and the remaining 1 c water. Turn the heat down to simmer and cover completely. Let simmer for at least 15 minutes, if that’s all the time you have, a little bit more if you’ve got the time. Turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and let stand for at least 10 more minutes.

Quick tip: I turned off the heat on the lentils after about 15 minutes of cooking, went to my class, and when I came back they were done. (If you like them more creamy, or completely dissolved, let cook for longer.) Same with the rice, I turned off the heat after it cooked for only 15 minutes, and it cooked itself in the steam with the lid on.

Serve the dahl over rice. If it’s spicy you might like a little plain yogurt spooned on top. I also like to eat this with a side of sauteed collard greens or kale.

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