Friday, September 6, 2013

Indian Cuisine and SRK - Aloo Matar

Indian Cuisine

My Mom's and both Grandma's cupboards had some interesting herbs and spices in them. Some that were used frequently like Pepper, Onion, Garlic, Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Red Pepper, Paprika, Cumin, Cinnamon, and Cloves. And others that just seemed out of place like Jamaican Curry, and Lavender Salt.

To this day I still believe Lavender Salt belongs in the bathroom cabinet and not the spice rack.

My Mom's friend Sumintra, whom I call my Indian Adopted Mom, introduced me to the spices of India, Bollywood and much to Kishore's chagrin...Shahrukh Khan.
Favorite Bollywood Film: DDLJ.....Sorry Kishore

Sumintra's spices were used completely differently from how I was accustomed too. She made her own spice mix...curry powder...masala. Walking into her house after she had made masala you could smell hints of Cumin, Ginger, and Cinnamon.

All warm enticing scents that made my mouth water. She was nice enough one day to show me how to make lamb curry and gave me a jar of her masala. On many occasions she has been kind enough to invite me over for dinner, to borrow a Bollywood movie, and send me home with leftovers of Pakora, Roti and Potato Curry.

My first Indian Cookbook,
but not the last.
This was my introduction to Indian cooking and from that point I was hooked. This of course led me to buy an Indian Cookbook and try what seemed to be the easiest recipe...

Aloo Matar...aka Potato and Pea Curry....Dreaded by my family

Yup, that was pretty much my family's reaction.
I don't think that the recipe itself was bad, just my execution of it... Pun intended.

It was one of my first cooking experiments with a cuisine I was unfamiliar with.
From this I learned that you can not try a recipe for the first time and expect to be able to adjust it. Stick to the recipe; when you have the basics down THEN, and ONLY THEN experiment with adding a little bit more of this or that.

With Indian food, you have to remember three things:


  1. Make sure you have the right spices.
    • Just because you have something that you think resembles cumin in your cupboard doesn't mean it is. Read the full recipe, then check your fridge and cupboard before beginning. This actually goes for any recipe you want to try.
Left to Right: Cumin Seeds, Fennel seeds,  Caraway Seeds
     2.  Be careful with the amount of spices you use.
    • A little really does go a long way! If it says a teaspoon use a teaspoon, after you've made it according to the recipe, THEN AND ONLY then decide to add more or less of a spice.
     3.  Add them in the correct order and at the right time.
         Timing is everything!
  • There is an order to the addition of spices. The ones that need a longer cooking time go in first,  followed by powdered spices or masalas. It generally goes as follows:
          First: Mustard Seeds, Coriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds,
                   Fresh/Dried Chilies, Curry Leaves
          Second: Onion, Ginger-Garlic Paste
          Third: Ground spices, and Masala Powders

        Usually the very last thing added to a dish before it's 
       served is a little masala powder and fresh chopped cilantro.



Here is my much improved recipe for Aloo Matar....Take it away SRK!



Aloo Matar 
Serves 3-4
Ingredients:

2 Medium sized Potatoes
1 Small Yellow Onion
1 Ripe Tomatoe or an 8 oz can of Tomatoes
1 Cup of Fresh or Frozen Peas
1/2 Cup of Water
2 Tbsp of Ghee or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp of Garlic Ginger paste
1 tsp Cumin seeds (Jeera)
2 tsp Ground Coriander (Dhania)
1/2 tsp Turmeric (Haldi)
1/2 tsp Ground Red Chili
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
Handful of Fresh Cilantro
Salt to taste
Prep Work: Peel and wash the potatoes and cut them into 1" pieces. Chop the onion into fine pieces, chop the tomatoes and rinse and roughly chop the cilantro.

Directions:
1. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the potatoes till golden brown. Remove from the oil and place to the side for later.

2. Reheat the oil and add the cumin seeds, ground coriander, red chili, and turmeric. Quickly stir and fry lightly, then add the onions and garlic ginger paste.

3. Next add the tomatoes and water and bring to a simmer before adding the peas.

4. Then add the fried potatoes, half the cilantro, and salt. Stir well then cover.

5. After 5-10minutes, add the remaining cilantro and the garam masala. Stir and serve hot with rice, or rotis.

Enjoy!



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