Indian Summer

I cannot wait to make my own way to India. Goa has always been a top destination for me! But until I can travel there I find myself cooking many Indian delicacies. Living in the United Kingdom there are plenty who share my love of a good Indian curry; I am blessed to have a couple fantastic restaurants right near me.

One of my colleagues got me Prashad and it has been such a wonderful addition to my cookbooks. I love how she lists the additions to each meal, as I like making complete 2-3 dish meals every night, rather than one large one. Keeps it varied & more exciting! For this Indian inspired family meal I made a Chole (spicy cinnamon chickpea curry) , Jeera Baath (Cumin Infused Rice) & Saag Aloo (spinach & potato stew), which I served alongside some naan. The ingredient list looks like a lot but I tweaked it so its mostly what you will already have in your kitchen or is very easy & not expensive to source. The flavours which will fill your kitchen will be a delight, and the real star of the dish for me is the rice. Definitely one that will impress friends & family alike.

Chole, Jeera Baath & Saag Aloo

indian dinner date

Serve with: Raita, chutney & some mint yoghurt

Serves: 2 people & leftovers

Ingredients: Chickpea Curry- Chole

  • 2 x 400g tins of chickpeas (I normally roast the leftovers and spice them up as a crunchy snack side dish to accompany the rest of the meal) rinsed & drained
  • 4 tsp oil
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 bay leaves (indian ones if you can find them)
  • big thumb sized piece of ginger peeled & chopped or a tbsp of minced ginger
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes/peeled tomatoes which you then can blend in a food processor, whatever is easier to source
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp of red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 big handful of fresh coriander/cilantro, finely chopped

Ingredients: Cumin Infused Rice- Jeera Baath

  • 1 cup of basmati rice
  • 75ml oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, sliced/chopped into rings (mandolin works great for this!)
  • a couple of shakes of salt

Ingredients: Saag Aloo

  • 1 tbsp oil (I used coconut)
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp red chilli paste, or a couple of shakes of red pepper flakes if you don’t have it
  • 1tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 level teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 level teaspoon turmeric
  • 250g potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
  • 100-125g bag spinach leaves, washed
  • Salt

Can use curry powder instead if you cannot find all these spices for the saag. Add a heaped tablespoon

chole saag aloojeera baath

Method

  1. Get to your side dish first as you can leave the saag cooking on a low heat or warm it up right before. This allows you to reuse pans and clean as you go as well. Because whenever I cook Indian food I make a right mess of my kitchen when I don’t do some prep beforehand or am unorganised and I also don’t have millions of cooking pans, so with a meal like this I almost always have to some washing in between.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the seeds to let them pop and release their wonderful flavours. Then add the onion and cook for 15-20 minutes over a low medium heat, until it starts to stick & caramelise into a nice brown colour. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger & cook for 1 minute. Add the potato to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a splash of hot water every time you do, to aid in the cooking of the potatoes. You can always parboil them a bit before if you are unsure. Add the spinach and stir until it wilts into the mixture. Season the saag aloo with some salt & set aside.
  3. Get started on your other curry, as you want the flavours to have time to infuse. If you can leave this to rest overnight it is even better! Place the chickpeas in a large pan with about 450 ml of boiling water. Boil this for about 5 minutes on high heat, then remove from the heat & set aside. Take a frying pan and place it on a low- medium heat, place a round piece of baking parchment on the base. Then add all the garam masala spices in. This allows them to be heated up without sticking to the pan and/or burning. Take the heated spices over to the side to cool. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add the cumin seeds & fry until they start to brown, making sure they don’t burn. Then stir in the onion paste (watch out the oil may spit!)  and fry until dark & fragrant. To avoid this, make sure you stir regularly. Blend the ginger so it is like a fine pulp (food processor or you can buy jarred minced ginger which is all ready for you to use). Stir the tomatoes to the onion pan, followed by the ginger, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric, & sugar, then increase the heat to high. Stir in the chickpeas, along with their cooking water, along with an additional 200ml of warm water, then cover the pan and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. While the chickpeas are cooking, take your cooled down garam masala and add it into the mix. stir this and then allow to mix with the heat for 5 minutes. Then remove from the heat. Sprinkle with chopped coriander then cover again & let rest for 15-20 minutes. Reheat over a medium heat while you cook your rice, until the chole is piping hot.
  5. Now move on to your rice. Rinse it twice in warm water, really making sure you get as much of the starch off as possible. This ensures an even cooking. I normally run the water until it runs clear. Heat the oil in a large pan for one minute over a medium heat, then add in your cumin seeds. This will release the wonderful flavours, and kickstart the backbone of this dish. Make sure you keep an eye on them as they are bathing excitedly in the oil, and when they start to go brown, stir in your onion.
  6. Increase the heat to medium high, cover the pan & leave the onion to cook gently for two minutes before you stir it. Repeat this process until the onion has caramelised to a gorgeous dark brown (10-15 minutes). The browning of the onion is important, it is not the same as burning so if you want to err on the side of caution keep the heat to a medium and stir it frequently. The more time you take at this stage to infuse the oil & onion with the cumin seeds, will lead to a richer flavour & deeper colour to your finalised dish.
  7. Add the rice, stir gently, then add the salt along with 2 cups of boiling water & stir again. Boil uncovered for six minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the water has evaporated and the rice begins to look dry. Put a large square of foil on top, tucking around the sides, and put the pan top on top of this. Reduce the heat to almost non existent & leave to cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat & set aside to rest for another 5 minutes. When you remove the foil, everything should be perfectly cooked! Stir to gently release the rice and serve or keep covered until you are ready.

indian dinner dateindian dinner date 2

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