Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Indian-Style Curried Vegetables

Curry is one of those spices that took me awhile to appreciate. Initially, the aroma of curry didn't really appeal to me until I learned to embrace it living near the Devon neighborhood of Chicago a few years ago. The Devon Desi Corridor on Chicago's north side will transport any city dweller into a world of Indian and Pakistani culture. Here is where I learned so much about Indian and Pakistani cuisine and started dabbling in Indian recipes at home. For the recent Indian cooking class I hosted, we prepared this Indian Style Curried Vegetable dish. It's chock full of vegetables that have been kissed with the gorgeous curry color and flavor...

Surprisingly, this dish is made with common spices that you're most likely to find at your local grocery store. Garam masala and curry powder is all you need for spices (aside from salt and pepper) and the flavors definitely pack a punch. The vegetables used in this dish include red potatoes, cauliflower, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and frozen peas, but you can certainly use your preferred vegetables instead. The dish starts with toasting the garam masala and curry powder together to bring out more flavor. Onions and potatoes are caramelized in a pot and then a mixture of oil, garlic, ginger, and tomato paste is added. The toasted spices are stirred in and the vegetables are added. To finish off the dish, heavy cream or coconut milk is stirred in to create a wonderful creamy sauce that ties everything together. This dish is especially good over steamed basmati rice and garlic naan to sop up the sauce!

You'll notice this recipe is adapted from Cook's Illustrated. I was skeptical at first with this recipe but after taste testing, it was pretty darn close to other more authentic Indian recipes I've tried. I chose to highlight this CI recipe because the more authentic recipes I had were way too involved and required more exotic spices that may not be readily available to the mass public. So this version is definitely tasty and approachable too!

Indian-Style Curried Vegetables
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 tablespoons curry powder (sweet or mild)
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
2 cups Red Bliss potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger or ginger paste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups cauliflower, trimmed, cored, and cut into 1-inch florets
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/4 cups water
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/4 cup heavy cream or coconut milk

Toast curry powder and garam masala in small skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until spices darken slightly and become fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove spices from skillet and set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized and potatoes are golden brown on edges, about 10 minutes. (Reduce heat to medium if onions darken too quickly.)

Reduce heat to medium. Clear center of pan and add remaining tablespoon oil, garlic, ginger, and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add toasted spices and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute longer. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring constantly, until spices coat florets, about 2 minutes longer.

Add tomatoes, water, chickpeas, and 1 teaspoon salt; increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to boil, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in peas and cream or coconut milk; continue to cook until heated through, about 2 minutes longer.

Adjust seasoning with salt and serve immediately, passing condiments separately.