One of the best thing about being an active blogger is interacting with people of similar interests from all over the world. Monica is a fantastic cook and an equally fantastic food portrait artist. She is also one of those very supportive bloggers who is there to compliment, and assist and even prod you to action if you have been dormant too long. (Tes is the other one but her turn will come.)
Before learning of Monica’s Blog I had never either eaten or cooked Indian Food. I had tried it a few times in Philadelphia when I was a student and simply was not impressed with either the quality or flavor. But Monica’s Pictures and enthusiasm for her native cuisine was enough to convince me to give it a try and I am glad I did.
The most important decision I made was not to try any of the recipes until I acquired all of the spices. Only in the most extreme cases of a minor ingredient did I compromise and try a substitute. This forced me to skip many recipes because she is using spices I have never heard of and are not locally available but the results are fantastic when the recipe is followed precisely so I guess my decision was correct.
Monica has now opened a restaurant and if her offerings are as good as her blog and her presentation as pretty as her pictures, she should be a phenomenal success especially if she can find employees who like to smile at her customers.
Pinto Bean Curry (Rajma Chawal) is one of those inexpensive, flavorful vegan meals that probably evolved out of poverty. It is rice and beans with tomatoes and the thing that separates this meal from other cultures is the wide variety of aromatics and spices. This recipe calls for eleven different ones.
Once again it is fast moving and easy to cook. I used my fondue pot but upon reflection I don’t see any reason I couldn’t make it in my coffee pot. I also staged the spice blends because I am still not familiar with all of the different spices and in a fast moving recipe that I am trying for the first time, I don’t want to make a mistake.
1 can Pinto Beans with liquid (14.5 oz.)
3 T Olive oil
1 tsp. Cumin seeds
1 Onion (rough cut)
2 garlic cloves (rough cut)
1 thumb sized piece of ginger (rough cut)
1 thin slice hot pepper (scotch bonnet) or 1 green chili
1 small bunch cilantro (fresh coriander)
1 can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 tsp salt
½ tsp. garam masala
½ tsp. turmeric powder
½ tsp. Paprika
½ tsp coriander powder
- If you use a blender to make the aromatic paste, you will need to add 2 tablespoons oil to the blender then add the rough cut garlic, onion, ginger, hot pepper and cilantro. Otherwise use a food processor.
- Heat the rest of the oil (1 T.) in the pan along with the cumin seeds and cook on low temperature until they sizzle then add the past to the pot and stir.
- Cook for 3 more minutes and add the rest of the dry spices while stirring until uniform.
- After five more minutes add the tomatoes and stir until uniform.
- Cook for five more then add pinto beans.
- When it is hot 5-10 minutes it is ready.
This was excellent and even better on the second day. I am really starting to enjoy Indian food especially the vegan recipes because of the bold flavors. I doubt that I will ever become a zealot about vegan or vegetarian foods but the change is fine, if the food is good and filling.