Sunday, January 30, 2011


It seems as though I will be traveling more than I'll be home in February (I'm actually writing and posting this from a plane somewhere over Ohio I think), which makes it kind of hard to make (and blog about) anything "homemade." Hotelmade, maybe, but not homemade. Luckily, because I am an underachiever in regular life (just like my standardized test scores have always indicated) I have a cache of cooking projects undertaken as much as a month ago, which I can now document for you, dear blog reader. I must admit, I am woefully behind on the craft projects, but hope to have something new to report in that department at least once in February.

You may recall that one of my "ambitions" for 2011 was to learn to cook Indian food. Dish number one was actually done in early January. I decided to ease into Indian cooking slowly, with this recipe by a white girl from Oklahoma, a state widely known for an entirely different ethnicity of "Indians." Despite this, Molly has not failed me in other recipes so I felt good about starting this project with her Chana Masala recipe. (Also, my Indian cookbooks hadn't arrived yet. I now own three: this doorstop, plus two lovely Madhur Jaffrey books, this one and this one.)

I hate to be a spoiler about this, but the Chana Masala turned out excellently. It's incredible how velvety the tomatoes get in this process - like nothing I have ever eaten before. Also, Molly indicates that you should garnish with whole milk yogurt but I took one look at the nutrition label on the whole milk yogurt at the store and decided to take my chances with 2%. (Honestly, you might as well just use heavy whipping cream if you are going to use whole milk yogurt. Good lord.) 2% Greek yogurt was perfectly delicious and what I will use from now on.

And now for the photojournalism:

Molly says to saute the onions until they begin to blacken, so I did. At this point, I am slightly worried that the whole thing is going to taste like burnt onions, but I proceed anyway.

Deglazing the pan. The spices have already been added and this already smells delicious. Neighbors beginning to hate me.

Crushing tomatoes with my bare hands. I am strong like bull.

Time for simmering. Now this is smelling a LOT. But it smells delicious. Take that, neighbors! (This is directed especially at the ones who smoke into the air shaft that is connected to my bathroom. Jerks.)

I would like to take a moment to point something out. Do you see that spoon I am stirring with in the above photo? It is one of the best kitchen tools ever. My Grandma Velma discovered it ages ago - I am talking the early 1980s here, people - and gave one to my mom. It has a blunt rather than a rounded end so it's especially good for scraping up all the brown bits when you're making anything that produces brown bits, in addition to stirring the pot. Brilliant. I think you can normally buy these at hardware stores; don't even try to get one somewhere like Williams-Sonoma. This is a working man's spoon. It is inexpensive. It is stainless steel and dishwasher safe and lasts an eternity. Mom has never replaced hers and it's approaching its 30th birthday. We might take it to Vegas to celebrate. You can find one of these spoons here.

Chickpeas added. Simmering underway. We're in the home stretch.
But then I get distracted. This was about a month ago so I can't remember exactly what drew my attention away from the stove. Probably something on The Martha Stewart Show. She was probably shearing sheep or something. Anyway, by the time I made my way back to the kitchen, I found this beneath the layers of spicy chickpea and tomato deliciousness:

Rats! Burned like an idiot who forgot to put on sunscreen.

Despite totally charring the bottom of the pan, I give two thumbs up, five stars, and an Oscar to the Chana Masala for Best Vegetarian Entree. It could even be vegan if you leave out the 2% Greek yogurt, but I think it's worth it to add it. It really does take this simple dish to another level. I hate writing "another level" because it is so trite (It kicks it up a notch! BAM!!) but it's true. It does. You should add it.

Here's how good this was: I couldn't wait to eat it. I was excited for the remaining lunches and dinners when I had Chana Masala. You know something is good when it makes the lunch you brought from home exciting to eat. One bit of caution, though. If you happen to get one of the cardamom pods in your bite of Chana Masala, do NOT eat it. Trust me. Nothing good comes from eating one of those things.


Lindy said...

Ummm. Did you intentionally leave off the recipe?

The link to the spoon didn't work for me, but it looks a bit like the industrial spoons my gramma used when she was the head cook at my school back in the 50s! (Yes, I am old!)

Kate said...

I posted a link to the recipe. Since I originally found it in her book, I didn't retype it. Decided a link was sufficient. Not sure why the spoon link didn't work for you - if you have a popup blocker that might be the issue as the link opens in a new window. Here's the spoon link:

Kathleen said...

That spoon is on sale now!
Great to see you last week. Will you post an Eataly review (or share privately)? Nick is dying to know.