Friday, November 4 –
Yes, please, Bangladesh. Please, thank you, and more. I can’t say that the leftovers were better than the dinner, but I have been looking forward to my lunches each day. This dinner had a bunch of different steps to it, and amazingly they all turned out delicious. My WingWoman (who is gluten-free and soy-free) and I made this dinner together, as she is a house guest with us for a little while. She and I hardly ever get to see each other, let alone cook together, so this dinner was a very wonderful way to end a long week.
We started with the cilantro chutney, which was incredibly easy to make. Take all of the ingredients and shove them into a food processor or blender and voila! You have chutney. It turned out like cilantro made into a dip without any other flavors, so we added more lemon juice, more tomato sauce, a little salt, and a little bit of olive oil.
Then we moved on to the lentil soup, which took quite a bit of fiddling with. We steamed the sweet potato and simmered the lentils while the veggies were sauteing. Then WingWoman mashed everything together and got it all in the pot. The flavor was almost good, but not quite. Too bland for us, who are loud flavor lovers. I let WingWoman free with my spice shelf to see if she could liven the dish up a little bit. I believe there was some cumin, some lemon juice, and some salt that happened, but believe me there was vigorous shaking, stirring, and mutterings going on about the flavor. While we did add quite a bit of water to it, it turned out more like dahl than like soup, which was very ok with us! In the end we even ended up putting bacon (I know, I know, that isn’t even close to the recipe) and it was magic! It added just the right flavor and added salt that it needed to tie all of the flavors together.
As she was fixing the dahl, I moved on to making the samosas. I’ve loved samosas ever since I was little, because it’s one of the many dishes that my mother made that just knocked my socks off every time (along with her dahl and curries – can you see why I love this dinner?). While my mother makes then with pie crust, I stuck to the recipe and used puff pastry sheets. I’ve had samosas filled will all kinds of different ingredients, but I was extra excited for this recipe, which used chick peas. The result was almost the combination of channa masala from an Indian restaurant and puff pastries. Talk about yum! Because WingWoman is gluten-free, we left some of the filling out of the pastries and set it aside for her.
At this point I threw some rice into my rice cooker for a side dish, and the guys got the table ready for dinner. The samosas were in the oven, the dahl was simmering nicely, and it was time to start the chicken dish. I started with the onions and the other veggies, getting everything browned and hot. Then instead of adding water to it, I just threw the chicken on top. I keep telling myself to stop boiling meat, so I listened this time and just let the veggies and chicken cook together until everything was cooked through and nice and spicy. I seeded the jalapenos that we put into the chutney and the dahl, so I left all of the seeds in for this dish.
Everything was dished up and we all sat down to eat. There was definitely a table full of mmmmmmmmms and aahhhhs over the flavors, and I’m pretty sure that we stuffed ourselves to the very top of our stomachs. I will definitely be making each of these recipes again!
Things I have learned: When you have an extra set of hands in the kitchen, especially hands that you’re not used to cooking with, it is easier to have them do the chopping, slicing, and mixing. I tried to start chopping things and point out where everything was kept to WingWoman, and that just didn’t work. So we switched and everything went much more smoothly. Also, because we kept some of the samosa filling out I had some squares left over. After dinner I made a mixed berry filling (boysenberries, blueberries, and raspberries simmered with sugar and cornstarch) and made homemade turnovers out of them. Cute little pockets of sweet that perfectly rounded out the evening.
Thoughts about wine: We had several different bottles of red wine with this dinner, one was a red blend that I picked up and the other two were different types of zinfandels that Roommate Extraordinaire got for us to share. The zins were dark but smooth, and went really well with all of the spices that we piled onto our plates.
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.allrecipes.com and www.deshigrub.com)
Yellow Dhal – Sweet Potato Soup
- 1 1/2 cups dry yellow lentils
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tomato, finely chopped
- 3 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Rinse lentils under running water; drain. Place lentils, 2 1/2 cups water, and turmeric in a medium pot, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place cubed sweet potato in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water. Cover and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes (time may vary depending on size of potato pieces). Once tender, mash sweet potato and lentils together; set aside.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the onion until lightly browned. Stir in tomato, jalapenos, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking another 3 to 5 minutes. Place lentils, vegetables, and potatoes in a stockpot over medium heat. Stir in water as needed to attain desired consistency. Serve warm with cilantro or green onions.
- 2 bunches fresh cilantro, leaves picked from stems
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 green chile peppers
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon water, or as needed
Blend the cilantro, ginger, cumin, green chile peppers, lemon juice, and tomato sauce in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Stir water into the mixture to give a sauce-like consistency as desired.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 3 (19 ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained
- 2 tablespoons curry paste
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 3 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion until browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and add garbanzo beans. Mix curry paste with apple juice until smooth, then add to skillet. Simmer mixture 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more apple juice or water as needed to keep mixture moist.
- Cut each sheet of pastry into 3 equal-size rectangles, then cut each rectangle in half. (You will have 18 pieces total.) Dust a clean, flat surface lightly with flour, and roll each piece of pastry until it is double in size. Dust pastry with flour as needed, to prevent it from sticking to rolling pin. Spoon an equal amount of filling into center of each pastry square. Fold in half and press edges to seal. Place on nonstick baking sheets.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, until golden brown.
- 1 lb of chicken tenders or 2 large chicken breasts (diced into 1 inch pieces)
- 3 medium sized onions
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1.5 inch piece fresh root ginger, peeled and crushed/grated
- 2 ripe tomatoes
- Spices: 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 level tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp Patak’s Original Mild Curry Paste (found in most grocery stores, especially Indian).
- Fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped.
- 2 green chillies (optional)
- Cooking oil
1. Heat up a non-stick pan up and add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Finely dice up 3 onions and fry on high heat.
2. Add 1 level tsp of salt (to help soften the onions) and then add the garlic and ginger prepared as above. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting, and cover. Onions should be softened and browned. Add enough boiling water (preferably from a kettle) to soften the onions further, cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
3. When all the water has evaporated from the onion paste, add all the spices and cook on high heat for 5 minutes to make sure the spices are cooked through and not still raw and powdery. Add 2 green chillies sliced in half sideways.
4. Stir in the diced tomatoes, cover and cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
5. Stir in the chicken pieces making sure they are coated evenly with the onion and spices. Cook on high for 5-8 minutes making sure the chicken browns all over.
6. Add 1 tsp of Patak’s Original Mild Curry Paste and stir in well. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, adding a little more hot water if need be. If you prefer it with a little more sauce, add half to one cup of hot water and cook on a medium heat until the sauce thickens. (If at any point during the bhuna process you feel the sauce is getting too dry, add 1/2 cup of water).
7. Remove from heat and sprinkle finely chopped coriander leaves all over.
Recommendations: Serve with a rice dish of your choice and a leafy side salad.