Miss Ginsu: About/Bio

 

Food Quote Friday: The Guardian

Curry Salad

"Anticipating the long and tense night ahead for him and his team, Darling had taken matters in hand at 8.30pm, personally ringing one of his favourite restaurants, Gandhi's in Kennington, south London, to order £245 worth of rice, karahi lamb, tandoori chicken, vegetable curry and aloo gobi."

— Patrick Wintour, Jill Treanor & David Teather for The Guardian
in "How an era in banking was brought to an end — over a curry"

A feast of spicy food quotes can be found in the Food Quote Archive.

Labels: , , , ,

10.10.2008

The Problem with Chickpea Masala

You know what the biggest problem with my Chickpea Masala is? I can't get it to look good. It smells great. It tastes wonderful. It looks... homely.

Oh, sure. I can toss some chopped cilantro or some parsley over the top of it. But come on... that's just putting lipstick on a pig. (Or is that a dog? Who knows these days?) Curry is just a homely dish.

Chickpea Masala

This is really the problem with all the bowl-foods. Delicious, yes. Tasty, yes. Recession-proof? Of course. Easy to make on Sunday and then take to work as leftovers? Without a doubt.

Just not good-lookin' enough for shmantzy guests, that's all. This is peasant cuisine.

Still, that's not going to stop me from sharing the recipe. It's so quick, easy and good for work-a-day lunches, I can't resist its humble charms.

Fast Chickpea Masala (Serves 2 (with leftovers) or 4)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
1 medium-sized onion, halved and cut in 1/4" slices
2 cloves garlic, minced or mashed to a pulp
1 2" piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and sliced thin (optional)
2-3 Tbsp Masala Spices (see below) or a mix of your own
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can chickpeas (drained and washed)
1 to 1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
3 cups cooked rice (for serving)

Optional Garnishes
Chopped cilantro
Plain yogurt or cucumber raita

1. Heat the oil/ghee over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the onion slices.

2. Cook until the onion goes from white to translucent (about 10 minutes) and add in the garlic, ginger and jalapeño slices. Cook 5 minutes more.

3. Add in the spice mixture. Cook an additional 3 minutes. The spices should begin sticking to the pan.

4. Add the tomatoes and chickpeas. Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes.

5. Season to taste with the salt. (At this point, you may wish to add either a pinch of sugar, or a squeeze of lime juice, as needed, to please your palate.) Serve immediately with rice and garnishes, or pack up for work-week lunches.

Masala Spice Mix

1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 cardamom pods
1 tsp fennel
2 whole cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric

It's best to use whole spices, toasting them in a pan and then grinding them up for this mix, but you can get away with ready-ground spices if that's all you can find. The turmeric, for example, is almost always found pre-ground, so if you're grinding, just add that at the end.

If you're going to skip anything, don't skip the cumin and coriander. They're essential. The others are all negotiable. If you like more heat in your mix, add in some cayenne. I enjoy using fresh chilies when possible, so I like to leave it out.

Store the surplus in an empty spice jar and use within a week or so.

A pilaf of white basmati rice would obviously be the traditional choice to serve with this curry, but I've been liking the brown basmati lately. It has extra fiber and extra nuttiness.

Happy Eating!
Miss Ginsu

Labels: , , , , , , ,

9.11.2008

Recession-Proof Recipes: Savory Green Curry

In a time of high food costs, people often look to cheaper proteins, but I think turkey is often overlooked because of its association with winter holiday meals.

T-Day Turkey
Not just for Thanksgiving anymore

Turkey is a flavorful, inexpensive meat, and if you get a small bird (some stores even sell half-birds or breast roasts), you don't have to spend all day cooking it. Just wash it, dry it, give it a quick massage with some oil, salt and pepper, set the oven to 375°F, put the bird (or half-bird, or whatever) in a roasting pan, set the timer for 15 minutes per pound of meat and go find something else to do for a while.

The cooked meat is great everywhere you'd normally use chicken. Use it for turkey salad sandwiches. Put it in chili. Make yourself a Turkey Pot Pie.

Or take it to the Far East and toss your turkey meat into a green curry. I haven't dined on the local birds thereabouts, but I'd be willing to bet that turkey's gamier flavor probably tastes more like Thailand's native poultry than the standard American chicken does.

Obviously a handful fresh Kafir lime leaves would be great in this paste (just nix the lime juice if you're going that route), but I'm not putting them in the recipe because they're not terribly easy for a lot of people to find. If you can't find the lemongrass either, go ahead and skip that, too. Fish sauce is usually available in Chinese markets. Feel free to sub in baked or fresh tofu and go all vegetarian on this if that's how you want to play it.
Savory Green Curry (Serves 4)
For the Paste
5 green chilies or jalapeños (or less, to taste)
1 medium white onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves
1" piece ginger root, peeled
1-2 lemongrass bulbs (white section of the stalk), chopped
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fish sauce or dried shrimp paste (optional)
1 cup fresh basil (preferably Thai basil)
1 cup fresh cilantro
4 limes, zested and juiced
1/2 cup water
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

For the Curry
1 medium white onion, halved and sliced
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1" squares (or substitute 1 cup diced eggplant)
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 13 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups cooked turkey, cut into cubes (or cubed tofu)

Additional mint and cilantro (to garnish)
Lime wedges (to garnish)
Steamed rice or noodles (for serving)

1. In a blender or food processor, puree chilies, onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, cumin, coriander, black pepper, fish sauce, basil, cilantro and lime zest and juice. As you blend, add in enough water to make a smooth paste. Season to taste with salt and ground pepper.

2. Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat and warm the oil to the pan. Add in the onion and green pepper pieces (or eggplant), cooking 15 minutes to soften.

3. Add the green curry paste to the vegetables in the pan and allow it to cook for 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.

4. Stir in the broth, the coconut milk and the cooked turkey or tofu cubes. Blend well and bring the mixture to a simmer. Season to taste. The mixture should taste bright and herbaceous. If it seems a bit too sour, add a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to balance it out.

5. Garnish with additional cilantro, mint leaves and lime wedges (if desired) and serve with steamed rice or noodles.


Bon appétit!

Labels: , , , , ,

5.22.2008

Insert Your Wurst Pun Here







Ketchup? Check. A peck of mustard? Yep. Hot sauce? Sure. Cumin-pineapple relish? Well, why not?

All that's on offer at the condiment counter. Still, of all the tempting tastes at Broome Street's spanking new Broome Doggs, the most exciting was indubitably the currywurst sauce. Tomato-y, zippy, earthy. Like ketchup after a trek down the spice trail.

"They're all over the place in Germany. They're crazy for them there," attending dog slinger Todd told us, slopping a generous portion of spicy red glaze across a steaming dog. "Really. Look it up on the web. Just type in 'currywurst' and you'll find all kinds of stuff."

Todd did not lead us astray. Said to be one of VW's biggest products (at least in Wolfsburg), the saucy, spicy currywurst is apparently the most popular fast food dish in Germany. Berlin even goes so far as to host a Currywurst Museum, and a documentary homage exists within "The Best of the Wurst."

My favorite of the Currywurst worship pages might be this one, in which we discover that, "First you learn german (sic), then you may have a Currywurst." Brilliant incentive program.

Folks with DIY impulses should investigate one of the many recipes out on the interwebs.

Broome Doggs
250 Broome St.
(Btwn Orchard & Ludlow)
917.453.6013

Labels: , , , , ,

9.20.2005