Showing posts with label turmeric. Show all posts
Showing posts with label turmeric. Show all posts

Apr 9, 2018

Indian-Style Yellow Cabbage

cabbage, easy, garlic, Indian, mustard, Recipe, simple, stir fry, turmeric, vegan, vegetarian, yellow,

This simple cabbage stir-fry uses zesty mustard seeds, earthy turmeric, garlic, and a pinch of red chili to create a flavorful side dish that can quickly be made for a gathering. An easy to make vegan recipe that pairs well with rice and rotis.

cabbage, easy, garlic, Indian, mustard, Recipe, simple, stir fry, turmeric, vegan, vegetarian, yellow,

This recipe is adapted from 5 Spices, 50 dishes by Ruta Kahate. The premise of her cookbook is simple: with five common spices and a few basic ingredients, home cooks can create fifty mouthwatering Indian dishes, as diverse as they are delicious. Ms. Kahate teaches regional Indian cooking from her home-based school in Oakland, California, which has been featured on the Fine Living Network. I bought this book when it first came out in 2007. It is very well written and beautifully photographed. About half the recipes are authentically Indian while the other half are interesting modern fusions with western cuisine. My only complaint is that the recipes are a bit bland for my family's tastes- this is usually easily remedied by simply doubling the spices.

cabbage, easy, garlic, Indian, mustard, Recipe, simple, stir fry, turmeric, vegan, vegetarian, yellow,

Cabbage was never a favorite vegetable of mine until I moved to South Asia. I never cared for the western methods of preparing cabbage whether raw and shredded as in coleslaw, braised, or even pickled as in sauerkraut. Asian cuisines do cabbage best with simple stir-fries or salads dressed lightly with pungent oil and vinegar or lime juice dressings. This recipe is exemplary of how simple yet flavorsome a cabbage dish can be. (It's also quite pretty in it's glossy and golden yellow presentation.) I have altered the spices in the recipe to suit my family's tastes and to accommodate a slightly larger amount cabbage than entailed in the original recipe. I've used Kashmiri mirch instead of the recommended cayenne. Kashmiri mirch gives more of a rich chili flavor than cayenne and boosts the brilliant yellow coloring of the turmeric in this dish. Most cabbage dishes in Nepal or India are served a little crunchy or al dente, we prefer ours a bit well done. I also prefer frying the cabbage the Kashmiri way in salted oil. Frying in salted oil results in those little carmelized bits of loveliness that add so much flavor. Don't be too skimpy with the oil in this recipe as that's what is carrying the flavor. If you are using a non-stick pan you could probably get away with 3 tablespoons full of your favorite cooking oil, if not then I'd advise sticking to the full quarter cup. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

3 to 4 TBS cooking oil of choice
1&1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds/rai
4 cloves garlic/lahsun, minced finely
1&1/2 tsp ground turmeric/haldi
1 small to medium head of cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
salt to taste
1/2 to 1 tsp Kashmiri mirch or  cayenne pepper/degi mirch (use less for less heat)

Here's what to do:
1) In a large lidded skillet or kadhai, heat the oil with 1 teaspoon of salt over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add mustard seeds and reduce heat to medium. Add the minced garlic and allow to just brown a little bit.

2) Add the sliced cabbage, turmeric, and chili powder and give the mixture a good stir to coat the cabbage with the oil and spices.

3) Cover and cook until the cabbage is cooked to desired tenderness. (We like our cabbage VERY tender which takes about 10 to 12 minutes.) Stir every three minutes or so. If mixture begins to scorch or stick add a tablespoonful of water, reduce heat and stir. Taste and adjust salt if necessary. Serve hot or warm with rice and/or rotis.

Helpful hints:
Try to choose a smaller head of cabbage for this dish, they are more tender and have a milder flavor than the larger heads.

Do not use purple cabbage for this dish unless you don't mind the sickly blue-green shade it will turn when you fry it with the turmeric

Mar 20, 2016

Ingredient of the Week: Turmeric

Turmeric, haldi, huldee, curcuma, yellow ginger, kharkoum, saffron des Indes, munjal, kaha, Gelbwurz, whatever you wish to call it here 'tis:

Turmeric's name possibly derives from the Latin "terra merita" meaning "meritorious earth." Although turmeric roots are most commonly used in dried and powdered form they can also be used fresh like ginger. Turmeric leaves are edible and are often used to wrap and steam foods in areas where it is grown. Turmeric is highly prized for the brilliant yellow hue it imparts to foodstuffs in South Asia. Nearly every curry or savory dish in South Asia has a pinch of turmeric in it.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a perennial rhizomatous herbaceous plant belonging to the ginger family. It grows to about 3&1/2 feet tall, prefers well drained soil, a tropical to sub tropical climate, and requires large amounts of rainfall to thrive. Turmeric usually flowers during August in the heat of the monsoon in South Asia. The florescence occurs terminally on a false stem about ten inches in length, the small yellow hermaphroditic flowers are tri-lobed and surrounded by white or light green ovoid bracts. It is propagated through division of the rhizome.

By J.M.Garg - Own work, CC BY 3.0,
To make turmeric powder the rhizomes are boiled for about an hour then dried in hot ovens. The turmeric is then ground into the deep ochre colored powder you are probably familiar with. The chemical compound responsible for turmeric's bitter, acrid, slightly hot, earthy flavor is curcumin. Turmeric is one of the cheapest spices in the world.

A turmeric field near an Indian village.
In cooking with turmeric, a little goes a long way.  If you see a recipe with more than a teaspoon of turmeric, beware. More than a teaspoon of turmeric and your dish can easily go from having a mildly warm and pleasant aromatic flavor to brash, bitter, and acrid in taste. Unless there's a lot of yogurt or coconut to dilute that much turmeric in your recipe, expect an almost astringently earthy dish.

Helpful Hints:
The color turmeric imbues food with is a gorgeous sunshine yellow. There is really no substitute for it.  If in doubt, leave it out.

Ground turmeric is sensitive to light and will degrade if exposed to sunlight for long periods. Always store turmeric in a lightproof container.

Be forewarned that turmeric will also stain everything it touches, not only cooking and eating utensils but also your hands, teeth, and clothing. The chemical compound responsible for turmeric's staining abilities is quite oily, so if you want to get a turmeric stain out of clothing your best bet is to put some oil dissolving dish detergent on it immediately, work it in, and let it set for at least four hours before attempting to wash it out. Whatever you store turmeric in will permanently be stained yellow also.

Calmly currying on,

Jan 3, 2016

Ingredient of the Week: Kitchen King

Darned good stuff!
Oh, stop.
Don't judge until you've tried these readymade spice mixes.
Don't start with the *"Chi, chi, Bibi's not being authentic, or Desi, or home style," or whatever disdainful & derogatory notions you may have about using prepared spice mixes. Readymade masalas are one of the newer convenience products available for the burgeoning Desi middle class. As more & more women enter the work force in Desi-dom or simply wish to spend less time in the kitchen for whatever reason, products like this are becoming increasingly popular. I've even seen kilo sized boxes of these mixes in the kitchens of 5 star hotels and popular restaurants in India so I know that even the "pros" use these. They are great time and money savers when you think of all the different spices you'd have to purchase, store, measure, & grind for use in each dish. Kitchen King is a blend of cumin, turmeric, Kashmiri mirch,  garlic, red chili, coriander, green cardamom, brown cardamom, dry ginger, black pepper, cloves, fenugreek, poppy seeds, mace, nutmeg, star anise, fennel, long pepper, and cassia.

Foil wrapped for freshness!
Guaranteed to delight your palate with taste & aroma.
(It says so on the box!)
I have to say, they are generally excellent quality too. The box boasts that the fresh spices are hand picked and ground using "Low Temperature Grinding technology." The mixes are foil wrapped inside for freshness, although I'd recommend decanting them into an airtight glass container once opened for storage. You could use a plastic container, but be forewarned that plastic container will reek of Kitchen King forever after.

I'd recommend storing in an airtight glass container.
This old pickle jar works well.
 I'd also recommend buying them in boxes no larger than 100g to 200g depending on usage as they'll usually remain fresh for only about a month after opening.

Kitchen King is one of my favorites. I always have a box around. My favorite brand is "Catch," although "MDH" and "Everest" are quite good also. I'm guessing it's called Kitchen King due to its versatility in dishes. It's a quick and easy way to make tasty vegetarian dishes such as mattar paneer (peas & cheese) or curried peas and mushrooms. 

Helpful Hints:

A good substitute for Kitchen King spice mix is-  1/2tsp cayenne + 1/2tsp paprika + 1tsp cumin + 1tsp coriander + + 1/2 tsp fennel + 1/4tsp ground fenugreek +1/4tsp mace + 1/8tsp nutmeg 

*"Chi, chi," is roughly translated as "For shame," in Desi-Land. It is often accompanied by an imperiously & emphatically extended index finger being jabbed perilously in proximity of whomever is being blamed or shamed's face. 
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