Friday, September 11, 2009

Potato and chickpea curry with peanuts and garlic

This marks my first successful attempt to improvise a dish based on Indian cuisine — I'm pretty comfortable with Mediterranean, Latin American, Chinese and Japanese flavors and ingredients, but until now whenever I've strayed from recipes in making curries and dals and so forth, the results have not been so good. This, however, even my 10-year-old daughter liked.

This is based loosely on this recipe from Raghavan Iyer, but heavily adapted to what I had on hand.

2-3 medium red potatoes
1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one can, rinsed well)
a good handful of peanuts
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small chile pepper, minced (remove seeds if you don't like it too spicy)
1/4 tsp turmeric
good handful of cilantro
1 medium onion, chopped
canola or other neutral oil for cooking
salt & pepper to taste

1. Cut potatoes into 1/2" chunks and cook in boiling salted water until just tender (5-10 minutes). Reserve about a cup of the cooking water, then drain.
2. Remove the leaves from the stems of the cilantro; reserve leaves but chop stems roughly.
3. In food processor or mortar and pestle, whiz up or smash the peanuts, garlic, chile pepper, turmeric and cilantro stems with a pinch of salt until a paste forms.
4. Heat a little oil in a large skillet. Add onions and cook until starting to brown. Add peanut-garlic paste and cook, breaking up the paste and stirring contantly, for about a minute or two (you don't want to garlic to burn or it will get bitter)
5. Add the potatoes, chickpeas, and a good bit of the reserved potato cooking water. Reduce heat and cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to blend, adding more potato water (or tap water if you run out) as necessary to keep it from drying out.
6. Serve over hot rice or with dosas (as shown here; I use this recipe, though I substitute regular green lentils for the urad dal), garnished with the reserved cilantro leaves, roughly chopped.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Deconstructing sausage with sauerkraut

Last week we had a cookout, and, as is not uncommon, we bought too much food. Extra meats (mostly sausages) and breads (hot dogs buns and those "deli thins" for making sandwiches with grilled eggplant) could easily be frozen, but the sauerkraut, well, it doesn't really freeze well and there was no way we could eat all that sauerkraut with a little bit on each brat. So, taking a page from Mark Bittman's "reverse the ratio of sauce to pasta" approach, I decided to make a leftover dish that features the sauerkraut a little more heavily...

1. For each adult portion (our kids aren't eating sauerkraut yet), I pulled apart a hot dog bun, spread the insides with a flavorful fat (in this case, a garlic-and-thyme-flavored mixture of olive oil and chicken fat that was a byproduct of making chicken confit awhile ago), and put them fat-side down in a hot non-stick skillet.

2. Once the hot dog buns were well toasted, I pulled them out (they became the starchy base for the meal) and put in a little extra fat and a couple of sausages (in this case, those fully-cooked chicken sausages that are called "Italian" and taste good but not really at all like Italian sausages), cut on a bias into 3/4" slices, and browned them on both sides.

3. I removed the sausages and reserved, added a bit more fat and some sliced onions. Once the onions were well browned, I added quite a bit of sauerkraut and the browned sausages, heated through, then served over the hot dog buns.

It was delicious; a more liquidy sauce would have dissolved the super-processed-white-bread hot dog rolls into nothingness, but the sauerkraut was fairly dry so the toasted side of the bread stayed crisp even with all the sauerkraut and onions laid over it. The sweetness of the sausages and hot dog rolls was an excellent complement to the sourness of the kraut and sharpness of the onions. And, we used up a lot of sauerkraut.