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Chris Hennes

Cooking with Madhur Jaffrey's Vegetarian India

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Chana Dal with Spinach and Tomato (p. 127)

 

This is a simple dal with a few vegetables added at the end of cooking. I of course would have liked more spinach, but overall it was good.

 

Chana Dal with Spinach and Tomato (p. 127).jpg

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Spinach Bhajias (p. 17)

 

I made two errors when making this recipe: first, I added the water too quickly when making the batter so wound up with too much of it. This meant I had to then add more chickpea flour, which made these a bit doughier than they were supposed to be. Second, I used a scoop to form them, which did not leave the edges ragged enough. They are supposed to be rough around the edges, which then get crispy when fried, but mine were too smooth and neat. That said, the taste overall was good, particularly dipped in the tamarind chutney she suggests.

 

Spinach Bhajias (p. 17).jpg

 

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 Breakfast this morning. 

20048D54-6FF1-4B9D-A610-B49C2584F7B6.thumb.jpeg.3dd977edff7845a14f6a56034f7c1d4e.jpeg

Eggs in mustard sauce. I do not think I would have attempted this recipe if @Chris Hennes had not led the way. I love English mustard but it did sound a little over-the-top at first glance. With all the other spices the taste was quite complex but I found the sauce to be very runny.  I might consider reducing the amount of water if I were to make a repeat stab at this. 

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@Anna N -- did you serve it on rice, or by itself? I find that many (most, really) of the dishes in this book have a fairly loose sauce to them that benefits serving with rice or bread to soak it up.

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Tomato Rasam Soup (p. 6)

 

This is an interesting take on tomato soup, with a solid hit of sourness from the tamarind puree, plus a packaged Rasam spice powder (I used MTR brand as she suggests) and a straightforward tarka to finish it off. I served it with bread on the side one day, and "American-style" with grilled cheese sandwiches the next. Delicious both ways.

 

Tomato Rasam Soup (p. 6).jpg

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1 minute ago, Chris Hennes said:

@Anna N -- did you serve it on rice, or by itself? I find that many (most, really) of the dishes in this book have a fairly loose sauce to them that benefits serving with rice or bread to soak it up.

 Damn. I was trying to keep this culinary confession all to myself. I realized as I was about to serve this  that it definitely needed some rice but the only rice that would not take some time to cook was a package of microwaveable rice in my pantry that I had bought because my granddaughter is rather fond of it.  Frankly I found it disgusting but managed to eat around it!  But yes it would definitely have benefitted from some well cooked basmati rice. I think it is a given but it was early in the morning and I wasn’t thinking straight.

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Goan Black-Eyed Peas with Coconut (p. 124)

 

This Goan curry is based on coconut and tomatoes, with no tarka. I fear her instructions for cooking the base were a bit unclear: my guess in retrospect is that the intent is to cook the coconut slurry until it breaks, as is often done with coconut milk. I wasn't thinking of it as coconut milk because you start with pureed coconut solids and fry that with the onions. When cooking I just followed the frying time in the book, at which point the emulsion still held. The next step is to add tomatoes and fry until "there is oil around the edges." I did that, but the coconut was still emulsified, there was just some extra vegetable oil in the dish that wasn't emulsified. So the dish tasted good, but I suspect the texture and appearance was not as intended.

 

Goan Black-Eyed Peas with Coconut (p. 124).jpg

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Mixed Dal, Marwari-Style (p. 154)

 

This dish was disappointingly, and surprisingly, bland. It's got a lot going for it, but it just has too much water diluting the flavors of a really lovely-smelling tarka and a spiced dal cooking broth. She cooks one cup of dal in four cups of water. Maybe if they weren't pre-soaked that amount would be OK, though even then I'd guess that I personally would have liked it thicker.

 

Mixed Dal, Marwari-Style (p. 154).jpg

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Nepalese Black-Eyed Peas with Potatoes and Bamboo Shoots (p. 126)

 

After yesterday's experience I tweaked this recipe a bit, starting with quite  a bit less water than the recipe calls for, on the theory that I could always add more if needed. I'm glad I did, because I didn't end up adding any more water and still had to play the with flavor balance a bit at the end. That said, it did come together in the end, and the combination of textures was more interesting than most of the dal dishes.

 

Nepalese Black-Eyed Peas with Potatoes and Bamboo Shoots (p. 126).jpg

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I find a lot of Dahl recipes call for too much water so I usually start with just covering the Dahl with a half inch of water and add more as I need to.

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Punjabi-Style Okra Masala (p. 96)

Spiced Hyderabadi Rice (p. 176)

Savory Whole-Wheat Pancakes (p. 246)

 

There was okra at the store today so I picked one of the okra dishes from the book and centered dinner around it. I like okra, so unsurprisingly I liked this dish -- it's got quite a lot of fenugreek leaves in it, which adds an interesting and unexpected flavor note. I served it with a pancake that I've made before (and liked less this time... go figure) and a spiced basmati rice dish that was quite good.

 

DSC_8083-Edit.jpg

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Okra Dry-Cooked with Yogurt (p. 95)

 

Using up the last of the okra I picked up yesterday, this is a relatively straightforward stir-fry of okra and onions. I overshot the mark on the doneness of the okra by a minute or two, but overall it was still good.

 

DSC_8134.jpg

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Green Chutney (p. 304)

Gingery Cranberry Chutney with Mustard Seeds (p. 320)

Spicy Peanut and Garlic Crumble (p. 312)

 

Almost all of her recipes say something like "serve this with relishes, flatbreads, and a selection of chutneys." I usually ignore this and serve with a relish, and a chutney, since I rarely ever have more than one on hand. Today, however, I had some extra time, so made three more chutneys to add to my collection, bringing the current total to five. That seems respectable.

 

DSC_8128.jpg

 

DSC_8129.jpg

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Those colors are beautiful, Chris.  I'd be enticed to add them to foods!

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Spinach with Fresh Indian Cheese (p. 301)

Turnip Bharta (p. 116)

 

Saag Paneer is one of my favorite dishes, and I'd never tried making paneer before, so I gave it a go. My paneer never really became a cohesive block, it stayed quite crumbly, so the dish was aesthetically a bit of a mess. Still delicious, of course, but not quite what I had in mind. The turnip mash was good but not spectacular. I would have liked a bit of acid added at the end, I think.

 

DSC_8149.jpg

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And Chris isn't that the beauty of so many cuisines that are personally adjustable with condimemts as you showed recently up topic. Chutneys et al. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with the great lady's food :)

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Chili-fried Eggs from Sri Lanka (p. 275)

 

In this simple dish you make a three-ingredient relish (shallots, chiles, and tomatoes) and serve it on top of fried eggs. I'm sure there are a million variants on this idea, since obviously you could add any number of spices to the mixture if you wanted to. A nice easy weeknight dinner, served with rice, sourdough bread, and a selection of chutneys.

 

DSC_8157.jpg

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Spicy Cauliflower Omelette (p. 280)

 

An omelette filled with a mixture of finely grated cauliflower, shallots, chiles, and tomato, spiced with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ginger and garam masala.

 

DSC_8166.jpg

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Green Beans with Potatoes (p. 63)

 

This is a fairly straightforward dish of green beans and potatoes simmered with cumin, ginger, chiles, and a tomato puree. Not my favorite green bean preparation (I like them less cooked), but pretty good.

 

DSC_8196.jpg

 

 

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Chickpeas is a Fresh Cilantro Sauce (p. 134)

 

It's sort of funny to call this a "fresh cilantro sauce" -- after you simmer it for 20 minutes it doesn't really retain much of the character of fresh cilantro. The taste was good, however. I did add the optional chaat masala, about 1 tsp worth, and those are freshly cooked dried chickpeas, rather than the canned ones she calls for.

 

DSC_8202.jpg

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I've made two simple dishes from the book so far. One is the orange and radish salad; hard to go wrong there, although I can easily see making this as a side for a Southwestern or Mexican meal, given the main flavors are cumin and cilantro. The mint gives it a twist, and I added just a little splash of olive oil.

 

Today I made the tomato rice. Delicious! And seriously easy. We had it with some mango pickle, not home made. I used canned tomato but I can see using fresh ones in summer. The suggestion to make the tomato sauce component ahead of time makes this a slam-dunk. Again, it would be hard not to like this, since I can be happy throwing salt on a juicy chopped heirloom tomato, adding olive oil or butter, and then just dumping it on hot basmati rice. 

 

I know it has been touched on up thread, but to me it is really amazing how many recipes have neither onion or garlic. The use of asafetida is a revelation for me, especially since I'm not eating onions these days. Perfect. The other thing about this book is the almost routine use of oil instead of butter, as I always associate ghee (and lots of it) with most Indian food. Again, excellent for me since I try to limit my butter intake as well. I've marked so many recipes in the book that I can't possibly try them all before it is due back at the library, so if several more dishes are big hits I may have to go ahead and buy myself a copy.

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