Saturday, June 28, 2014


To go with the chana masala I made recently, I decided to finally break open the economy-sized package of chapati(atta) flour I had purchased at Costco a while back and make some chapati. It turned out to be super simple and once again, I can't believe I've waited so long to do it. The process is basically the same as making tortillas, which I've also been meaning to do, except the type of flour is different. If you can't find chapati flour, I've seen other recipes use about half whole wheat and half all purpose flour which should give you a very similar flavor.

I made two different kinds, spiced cumin-coriander chapati and plain chapati. Other spices would also work. The chapati last for several days and can be reheated in the microwave or steamed for an even softer texture. I've been enjoying them for sweet and savory wraps in addition to eating them with my chana masala. There are many other variations of chapati, so I'm excited to continue experimenting. If you want to make these ahead, you can make the dough, roll them out, refrigerate them or freeze them for longer storage, and then defrost and cook them when you're ready to serve.


2 cups chapati(atta) flour
4 tbsp. vegetable oil, plus 1/2 tsp
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup warm water
All purpose flour, for rolling
1/2 tsp each of ground cumin and chili powder, 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro (optional)

Mix the flour with the salt and spices, if using, add the 4 tbsp. of oil and rub into the flour. Add the warm water and mix with your hands until a ball of dough is formed. Knead for a few minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 tsp of oil to the ball of dough and knead until the oil is incorporated.

Let the dough rest for about an hour, covered. After the dough has rested, divide the dough into 10 - 12 equal pieces. Dip each piece in all purpose flour and roll out into a thin circle with a rolling pin. You may roll them as thick or thin as you like, though thicker ones will take longer to cook.

Preheat a dry cast iron pan over medium-high heat, cook the chapati one or a few at a time, about 30 seconds per side. Spread with butter or oil and serve hot. Chapati will last for several days at room temp. Microwave or steam them to reheat.

To store chapati, stack them with parchment paper in between after rolling. Then refrigerate for a few days or freeze if storing for longer. When ready to serve, defrost and cook them in a dry pan.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Chana Masala for the Meek

I can count, on one hand, the number of times I've been to an Indian restaurant or tasted authentic Indian food. Thus, my knowledge of Indian food is limited, to say the least. However, I have read a lot of recipes online and made dishes in the past based on Indian flavors and spices. Recently, I've been trying out some recipes and this one for chana masala was a big success in my book.
I was first introduced to chana masala during college at the dining halls and while it was definitely not the most traditional tasting chana masala or even the tastiest, I really enjoyed the deeply spiced flavor profile of it. It's also super healthy and perfect as a vegetarian entrée, though it would likely also please meat-eaters as well. There are many variations of chana masala. I myself like some tomato and a multitude of spices in it. While I also like some heat, my family and I are wimps in comparison to the Indian standard of heat, so I have drastically toned down the spiciness level here. You can of course adjust to your own taste. I also didn't have amchoor powder, so I left it out.

As with most stews and curries like this, chana masala reheats amazingly and tastes even better in the following days. I also added some baked paneer in this after pics were taken and it was great. Serve it with rice and chapati or naan.

Chana Masala
Adapted from an adaptation of a Madhur Jaffrey recipe

250 g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight or about 2 15-oz cans of chickpeas
2 medium onions, minced
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp minced ginger
3 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp paprika
5 medium tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp roasted cumin seeds, ground
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp salt or to taste

Drain the soaked chickpeas, add to a heavy bottomed pot, and cover with about twice the amount of water. Bring it to a boil and cook over medium low heat until the chickpeas are tender, about 35-40 minutes. Drain the chickpeas and set aside.

Heat the same pot or another heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add a few tbsp. of oil and add the onions. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until the onions start to turn brown stirring occasionally, add in the garlic and ginger stirring for another minute. Add in the coriander, cumin, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, and paprika and let the spices cook for about 30 seconds to a minute until they become fragrant and turn lightly golden.

Add in the diced tomatoes and cook until they start to break down. Add in the salt, water, the cooked chickpeas, lemon juice, and the ground roasted cumin seeds. Bring the whole thing to a simmer and let it cook for another 15-20 minutes, covered.

Serve hot with rice and chapati. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers and reheat on the stove. It will last for several days in the fridge.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fragrant Turmeric Cumin Rice

This simple delicious rice comes from a Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice recipe on Serious Eats. NYC is another one of those places on my must-visit list, but until I make it there, I can't comment on how close this recipe is to those NYC halal carts. What I can definitively say though is that this rice is fantastic and would be a great side to just about anything. It's flavorful, buttery, and perfectly spiced. It's also very easy and for someone like me who has had trouble cooking rice perfectly on the stovetop, this recipe has worked out time and time again. The rice comes out fluffy and tender, but not mushy. Just be sure to use a heavy bottomed saucepan or pot.

You only need turmeric and cumin here, but if you want to, you could also add in cardamon seeds, a cinnamon stick, a few bay leaves, a few cloves, or a pinch of saffron if you'd like. Toast any whole spices in your pot first for about a minute before adding in your ground spices.
Turmeric Cumin Rice
Recipe from Serious Eats
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 cups long grain or basmati rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
large pinch of salt and pepper
cinnamon stick, cardamon seeds, saffron, cloves, bay leaves (optional)
In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add any whole spices, if using, and stir to toast for about a minute or until you can start to smell it. Add the turmeric and cumin and cook for about another minute.
Add the rice, stir to coat the rice in the spices. Cook for four minutes until lightly toasted. Add the chicken broth, then the salt and pepper. Give it a light stir to mix everything. Turn the heat to high and bring the broth to a boil. When it boils, cover and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes without peeking, then turn the heat off and let the rice sit for another 15 minutes to absorb any remaining water.
When done, fluff the rice with a fork and serve warm. Rice can be reheated and will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad

I saw a Vietnamese green papaya salad video on YouTube recently and decided to make a version of it. It looked simple and I've been in the mood for Vietnamese flavors, so it was a no-brainer. It's also super easy and perfect for the spring summertime weather that is hopefully coming along soon. You don't really need a recipe for assembling the salad portion since you can really add whatever veggies, proteins, etc. you want, but it is helpful to have a guide for the dressing in terms of the proportions.

One medium green papaya gives you two humongous bowls of shredded green papaya, so it will last you a while depending on how you're serving it. It's best to toss your salad ingredients together, but let others dress their own portions with dressing at the last minute to prevent it from getting soggy. You only need a few teaspoons for the bowl of salad I've shown, so not a lot. I think this salad really goes well with anything as a crisp refreshing accompaniment. Here, the salad was served with a seared, then roasted pork tenderloin that I marinated with some of the dressing, lemongrass, and fish sauce. You can add whatever veggies and herbs you want in this salad and the proportions are up to you, but I think the chopped roasted peanuts on top are a must.

Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad

1/4 cup lemon/lime juice
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp chopped/roasted garlic
red chili flakes (optional)

Mix the ingredients together in a measuring cup and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

1 Green Papaya
Carrot, peeled and shredded
English Cucumber, Chopped
Cilantro, Roughly Chopped
Mint, Roughly Chopped
Peanuts, roasted in a dry skillet and chopped

Peel and deseed the papaya. Shred by hand on a grater or mandoline or with a food processor. Rinse the shredded papaya three times in cold water until the water is somewhat clear. Drain and set aside.

To assemble, toss however much of the vegetables and herbs you'd like together. Dress a medium sized individual serving of salad with a few teaspoons of dressing. Serve immediately.

Keep the salad ingredients and dressing in the refrigerator, they will last a few days in the fridge.