One of my friends (Hi Maria!) put in a request for Indian food. I have to admit that I'm not an expert on Indian cuisine. I mean, I like an Indian buffet as much as the next guy (if you're in Durham NC, you should go to Dale's for lunch), but I haven't really experimented with it in the kitchen. I like to make curry, but I think I mostly make Thai curry recipes. When I'm at the buffet, I load up just about everything on my plate. By the time I'm back to the table, the flavors have mixed and I can't even remember what exactly I'm eating. So, to tell you the truth, when faced with the assignment of Indian food, I wasn't quite sure where to start.
Of course, you must turn to an expert in the cuisine to get you on the right path. I remember watching Aarti win the Next Food Network Star a few years ago, and her P.O.V. was making Indian cuisine accessible for the home cook. I'm a home cook, so I went to foodnetwork.com and flipped through all of her recipes. I bookmarked and pinned a number that looked delicious. I'll be trying them out and reporting here.
From what I've learned about Indian cuisine so far, it is all about spices and flavor! That means you may need to revamp the spice cabinet. You're going to need some garlic, ginger, curry, coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, cardamon, hot chiles and others. I was able to find the necessary ingredients at Meijer, but you may need to make a trip to a specialty store.
Side note: Speaking of spice cabinets, I now have A LOT of spices that are spilling off of my lazy susan, and consequently, I have to pull out at least 25 bottles to find the one I need. Any suggestions for better organization? Or anyone want to build me one of those spice drawers that organizes them all?
Ok, so for Indian Recipe #1, I chose these Bombay sloppy joes. I know they aren't really what you are going to order from an Indian restaurant but they are getting me more acquainted with the flavors. Overall, I was very impressed with this recipe. The sweetness of the raisins and honey go perfectly with the cumin and garam masala flavors. The pistachios add a perfect crunch to each bite. As the sauce was simmering away on my stove, I just couldn't wait to dig it. I served it, as Aarti suggests, on a toasted bun, although I think it would be good served over some rice as well. The leftovers heated up well the next day. I think the pistachios will get a little soggy if you wait for too long to reheat any extras. I changed only a few things from her recipe, for convenience and personal preference: I used milk instead of half and half, opted for a green pepper instead of red and swapped the cilantro with parsley (I CANNOT stand cilantro).
Fair warning: these are "extra schlopy" in the words of the lunch lady from Billy Madison.
Bombay Sloppy Joes (very slightly adapted from Food Network)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 serrano chile, seeded and finely minced
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp paprika
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 large white onion, finely diced
1 green pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 serrano chile, seeds intact, do not chop
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper, to taste
small handful chopped parsley
4-6 hamburger buns
For sauce, warm oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic and serrano pepper. Saute until the ginger and garlic browns. Add the garam masala and paprika and saute 30 sec. Stir in the tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 15 min until thickened.
Meanwhile, warm 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet. Add the pistachios and raisins and cook until the raisins plump up and the pistachios are toasted slightly. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
Return the pan to medium heat and add another tbsp of oil. Add the cumin sees and allow them to sizzle for 10 sec. Stir in the onions and bell pepper and saute until softened and starting to brown. Add the serrano pepper and saute for another few minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in the turkey and cook until brown, about 5 minutes.
Pour the sauce into the skillet with the turkey and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened, about 10 min.
Remove the serrano pepper. Add the honey, milk, pistachios and raisins. Stir and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley.
Toast the buns and fill with mixture.