Black-Eyed Pea Curry

Black-Eyed Pea Curry

Inspiration: Another day, another curry, right? We’re just fine with adopting that philosophy.

What We Loved: We’ve found that curries with a lot of turmeric and coconut milk tend to have a pretty specific flavor profile – they’re somewhat sweet, yet they’re full of that earthy, rustic turmeric taste. They tend to be nice, mellow curries that are mild in spice but sweet in flavor. We both really enjoy that flavor, and in this particular curry, we both enjoyed how nice and creamy the black-eyed peas were. Plus, all of the cilantro thrown in was awesome. If you are familiar with our blog, you know that we love our cilantro. As always, it added such a bright and fresh herbal taste. This is a nice curry if you’re looking for a curry that’s a little lighter and a little less spicy and intense than a lot of curries can be.

Tips: As often happens with me because I’m impatient, I photographed this dish too early, before it really had a chance to meld together and get nice and creamy. After it has been off of the heat for a little while, this really comes together and is much creamier than it looks in the photo. So I would suggest letting this one sit for just a bit before serving.

Black Eyed Pea Curry
Source: Slightly adapted from Girl Cooks World

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup diced tomato
2 15 ounce cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish

1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onion, and cook until starting to brown.

2. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne. Cook until the mixture is fragrant, about a minute.

3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the tomato, and cook for a few minutes until the tomato begins to break down.

4. Add the black-eyed peas, salt, and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken.

5. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve with additional cilantro for garnish.

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Meatball Curry with Cilantro Coconut Sauce

Meatball Curry with Cilantro Coconut Sauce

Inspiration: We cook with cilantro more than any other herb. I’d say that about 90% of the time, it’s our herb of choice. We do use a lot of basil, rosemary, and thyme, too, but there’s just something about cilantro. It’s bright, it’s fresh, and it goes so well with many cuisines (including Mexican, of course, which is just about our favorite). Anything cilantro-based is  usually a go in our house, and when the recipe is an Indian curry, well, that just puts it over the top. We really do love curry in just about any form.

What We Loved: The sauce in this curry was earthy and wonderful. It was characterized mainly by the flavor of cilantro, with a great kick of heat from serrano peppers and a touch of sweetness from the coconut oil and coconut milk. Like all great curry sauces, it was rich, complex, and full of earthy spices. I really love meatballs, too, so I enjoyed that aspect of the dish as well. It’s nice to experiment with meatballs in recipes other than those that are Italian or marinara-based.

Tips: This recipe makes a lot of sauce. I would think that you could double the meatball recipe and still have enough sauce (or maybe make half as many more meatballs). I froze the leftover sauce and then served it atop sauteed chicken breasts for another Indian meal later in the week (bonus!).

Meatball Curry with Cilantro Coconut Sauce

Meatball Curry with Cilantro Coconut Sauce
Source: Slightly adapted from Girl Cooks World
Serves: 2-4 

For the Meatballs
1 pound ground beef or lamb
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste

1. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl, and mix together. Form into 16-20 meatballs and set aside on a plate.

For the Sauce
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves
2 handfuls baby spinach
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion, and cook until softened.

2. Add the ginger, garlic, and serrano. Cook for a few minutes until everything begins to brown.

3. Add the cumin, coriander, and garam masala, and stir to coat the vegetables.

4. Add the coconut milk, cilantro, spinach, and salt. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.

5. Use an immersion blender to process the mixture until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil again.

6. Add the meatballs, and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

7. Stir in the vinegar and serve.

Butternut Squash Curry

Inspiration: When I see all of the winter squash varieties show up in the store come fall, I just can’t resist throwing a few in my cart every time that I shop. Brandon is less-than-thrilled about this habit of mine – he’s not huge into winter squash – but man, do I love it. So I try to only cook it once in a while for our dinner and use the rest for myself for lunch. Anyway, this particular recipe really intrigued me because we’ve both been particularly in the mood for Indian curries lately, but I never would have thought to use butternut squash as the main ingredient in a curry. Color me intrigued.

What We Loved: My favorite thing about this dish was the tenderness of the squash. It had a soft and creamy consistency that really made each bite melt in your mouth. The spices used in this particular curry added a lovely warmth and depth of flavor to the dish, with just a tiny bit of heat. And like a huge handful of meals in our house, I threw some chopped cilantro on top, and that added a great fresh contrast. If you want to make a curry that’s basically fall in a dish, then this would be it.

Tips: When I make a new recipe, I usually ask Brandon if he would make any changes next time. We kind of joked around with this recipe the only improvement he could see would be to use paneer or tofu in place of the squash. However, I do think it’s a great idea and that either would make an awesome substitute. Tofu would have a similar creamy texture to the squash in this recipe, and paneer would be firmer but also more substantial or filling. And cheesier, of course.

Butternut Squash Curry
Source: Adapted from StoneSoup

1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
About 3/4 cup coconut milk
Kosher salt and black pepper
About 2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed, and cooked
Fresh cilantro, to garnish

1. Heat a good pat of butter in a saute pan. Add the garam masala, chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon. Stir the spices into the butter, sauteeing them together for about a minute.

2. Add the tomatoes, stir together, and let simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste the sauce, adding more coconut milk or spices if desired.

3. Add the butternut squash cubes. Cook until everything is heated through and the sauce is thickened to your liking.

4. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Lamb Kofta

Inspiration: When it comes to Indian food, I can truly never get enough. I have just a handful of curries that I make over and over again at home, but I’d love to have many more recipes stashed away in my back pocket. So here’s to that goal.

What We Loved: This was a nice mild curry that was different than many of the other curries that we’ve eaten or made. A lot of times I’ve found that curries are very spicy, complex, and heavy (which I love), but this one had a nice mellow flavor that was a good chance of pace. I feel like the meaty, earthy flavor of lamb always goes so perfectly in curries, and we both really loved that the lamb was in the form of meatballs in this curry (meatballs are the best!). The lamb paired very well with the creamy sauce and the slightly understated flavor of the turmeric and other seasonings. We ate this curry alongside some simply buttered and salted green beans for a lovely meal.

Tips: The coconut milk definitely added just a touch of sweetness to this dish. If you want to avoid that, you could use cream or half and half instead. I also mistakenly added twice as much turmeric as needed (1 teaspoon instead of 1/2), so my dish might look a little more yellow than yours. I listed the correct amount in the recipe below.

Lamb Kofta
Source: Adapted from The Essential Asian Cookbook (Jane Bowring, Editor) 
Serves: 2-3

For the Meatballs
1 lb ground lamb
1/2 small onion, very finely diced
1 jalapeno, very finely diced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Sauce
1/2 small onion, finely sliced
1 jalapeno, very finely diced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Kosher salt, to taste
1 tablespoon vinegar
Scant 3/4 cup water
5 oz coconut milk
3 oz Greek yogurt (I use Fage 0%)
Cilantro, to garnish

1. To form the meatballs, mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Roll into small meatballs (I was able to make 20) and place on a plate.

2. Heat a good pat of butter in a saute pan. Add the meatballs, and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Heat another pat of butter in the pan if necessary. Add the onion, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, and turmeric. Stir to combine, and cook until the onions are softened.

4. Add the coriander, cumin, chili powder, Kosher salt, vinegar, and water to the pan. Gently return the meatballs to the pan. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

5. Mix in the coconut milk and yogurt, and simmer uncovered for about 10-15 minutes more, until the sauce is nice and thickened.

6. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer (Curry with Spinach and Cheese)

*Photos updated January 2012*

Inspiration: We have been eating food other than Indian lately, but with the recent successes that I’ve had cooking chicken tikka masala and shahi korma, I’ve been really looking to find and try new Indian recipes. B and I went out to an Indian restaurant recently and had this spinach and cheese dish, and we both really loved it. I always love to be inspired by restaurant meals!

What we Loved: This is the third Indian recipe that I’ve made in about a week and a half that has been absolutely delicious. Paneer cheese doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor on its own, but B and I both really loved the nice, brown crust on the cheese and how the creamy spinach sauce went so well with the texture and mild flavor of the cheese. This dish is loaded with spinach, but it doesn’t in any way taste like you’re eating a bowl of spinach. The curry sauce contains so many spices that combine really well with the cream, spinach, and cheese for a wonderfully flavorful curry that has a nice, yellow color from the turmeric that is added to the sauce. There’s a bit of richness from the cream and tomato, a fresh vegetable flavor from the spinach, and a wonderful, creamy depth of spices from the sauce. This is definitely another success!

Helpful Hints: I was a bit worried about sauteeing the paneer, since it is a cheese and I didn’t want it to melt into a gooey mess. It’s a very firm cheese, though, and it won’t melt. In a hot pan, it sautees up very quickly, so keep a careful eye on it. I only needed a minute or two per batch.

Saag Paneer
Source: Tea & Cookies

I modified the recipe just a bit. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

8 oz paneer cheese, chopped into cubes
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (or ground cumin powder)
1 stick cinnamon (or about 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
3 small bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 16 oz bag frozen spinach, thawed
Good pinch of red pepper flakes
Good pinch of cloves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 tesapoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup cream

1. Heat a pat of  butter in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the paneer cubes and saute until golden, just a few minutes. Remove the paneer from the pan and set aside.

2. Add another pat of butter to the pan. Saute the onion until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, garlic, ginger, and tomato. Mix to combine.

3. Add the spinach to the pan, and stir to combine. Saute for approximately 5 minutes, letting the water from the spinach cook off.

4.  Add the red pepper flakes, cloves, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

5. Add the cream and tomato paste, and mix everything well to combine. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for approximately 5 minutes.

Shahi Korma

Shahi Korma (Lamb with Creamy Almond Sauce)

Shahi Korma

*Photo and Recipe Updated December 2012*

Inspiration: Brandon and I have been really into Indian food lately, and I’ve been having a lot of fun searching for Indian recipes and learning to make them at home. It’s such a fun, delicious cuisine.

What we Loved: As I was cooking this, I knew that it was going to turn out well because it smelled exactly like dishes that I’ve had at Indian restaurants before. I love the way that the smell of a recipe cooking can just take you places sometimes. And this curry turned out wonderfully. It was so incredibly rich with spices, from sweet spices like cinnamon to smoky spices like cumin, and it had a great layer of heat in the background. My favorite thing about Indian food is that incredible layering of spices. We also loved the creamy, silky sauce, which had a nice almond flavored base, and the lamb turned out incredibly tender. As noted on Mike’s Table, where I got the recipe, I was really pleased, too, that you could definitely taste the distinct flavor of the lamb. With such a complex sauce, I too was worried that you might not be able to taste the lamb itself, but its flavors were very pronounced and complemented the sauce perfectly. This is definitely a new favorite.

Helpful Hints: On Mike’s Table, he noted that his sauce ended up very thick, almost more like a crust to the meat. My sauce ended up as a creamy sauce, but I think if I would have continued cooking it longer, I could have gotten the same results as in the original recipe. I used 1/2 pound to a pound less meat, so I think that I would have needed to increase the cooking time in order for all of the sauce to be absorbed. But regardless of why or how the consistency of the two sauces turned out differently, I think that this recipe would taste great either way. So if you’d like a creamier sauce, cook for less time, and if you’d like a thicker sauce, cook away.

Shahi Korma (Indian Lamb with Creamy Almond Sauce)
Source: Mike’s Table

I made just a few adjustments to the recipe. Following is the recipe as I made it:

2 lbs lamb leg
Kosher salt and black pepper
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 inch knob of ginger
5 tablespoons almonds
6 tablespoons water
2 shallots, finely minced
2 jalapenos, finely minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup water

1. Cut the lamb into 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Puree the garlic, ginger, almonds, and water in a food processor until a paste is formed.

3. Heat a pat of butter in a saute pan, and brown the lamb in batches until there’s a slight brown crust on the sides, approximately 5 minutes. Set the lamb aside.

4.  Add the shallots and jalapenos to the fat that is still in the pan. If necessary, add another pat of butter. Saute until slightly browned.

5. Add the garlic paste and all of the spices to the pan. Stir for a few minutes, browning the mixture slightly.

6. Deglaze the pan with the cream and 1/2 cup water. Scrape all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the lamb pieces to the pan. Cover partially, and simmer on low-medium heat for one hour, stirring occasionally. After one hour, if the sauce is too thin for your liking, remove the lid and continue simmering until it thickens to your preference.

Chicken Tikka Masala

*Photos and Content Updated July 2012*

Inspiration: I’ve been wanting to try cooking more curry dishes at home for a while, now, and I stumbled across this recipe last week while I was looking for just that. Perfect!

What we Loved: This is the best meal that I’ve made in a while. Brandon and I loved absolutely everything about this dish, and I wouldn’t change a thing. The chicken was incredibly moist, and the sauce was so spicy and creamy. It had all of the complex flavors of cinnamon, paprika, tomato, cumin, and garlic, and it had that perfect amount of heat that I expect Indian food to have. I also really loved the fresh herbal flavor that came from a nice garnish of cilantro. Brandon said that this tasted just like what you would get in a restaurant. What a great comfort meal.

Helpful Hints: I reduced the cayenne pepper in the original recipe by quite a bit (from two teaspoons to 1/2 teaspoon) and was perfectly happy with the amount of spice. With a jalapeno in the sauce, too, I really don’t think that the dish needed any more heat. But certainly add more if you’d like.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Source: Adapted from 

1 lb chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/8 cup fresh cilantro, minced

For the marinade
6 oz yogurt (I used Fage 0%)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
Good pinch Kosher salt and black pepper

For the sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon paprika
Good pinch of Kosher salt
8 oz tomato sauce
3/4 cup half and half (or cream)

1. In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken pieces, and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

2. In a large saute pan, melt a pat of butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and jalapeno, and saute for one minute. Add the cumin, paprika, and salt, and stir to combine. Mix in the tomato sauce and cream. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a very light simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. While the sauce is simmering, heat a second saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and the marinade, and saute until the chicken is cooked through, approximately ten minutes.

4. Add the chicken to the sauce, stirring to coat the chicken. Serve garnished with cilantro.