Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Comfort of Indian Food - Channa Masala and Puri

Let's play a game. You tell me which one of the following does not belong in Texas: horses, oil, Tex-Mex, snow, Piyusha.

I'll give you a minute to ponder. I'll even give you a hint with the next picture :)

That's right folks.. SNOW does not belong in Texas... and yet, there it was in all of its white glory. Did I make a snowman you ask? I would have but the hubster is a New Yorker and therefore the authority of snow and told me "It's not the right kind of snow... it won't pack." HMPH!

After 4 consecutive days of being trapped at home, I was going crazy! I couldn't look at the assorted cans of beans and jars of pasta without feeling eich... What to do what to do?

I decided today was the day. I could feel the planets aligning in my favor. I was going to face my arch-nemesis cuisine - Indian (pause for suspense music). I know what you are thinking.. Piyusha, aren't you Indian? I mean you got that whole UPS "What can brown do for you?" thing going. But Indian food is different than a lot of cuisines with the call for a perfect balance of spices and understanding how each spices adds a different dimension and layer to your final product. It also doesn't help that the typical Indian mom/auntie explains measurements with "just add one finger worth."

I decided to tackle channa masala (aka chick pea curry) and puri - fried dough that puffs up in little clouds if done right. My close friend Pooja will tell you that channa masala and I are not bffs4eva... Don't get me wrong, I love chick peas... hummus, curry, in a salad.. yum. Cooking them Indian-style is another story. Poor Pooja, who loves me very much, has eaten many failed attempts at channa masala over the course of a decade. Poojie, this one's for you.

My puri puffed up perfectly! My mother will be so proud!

So, where's the picture of the final product? Guys, it was so delicious, I went back for 2nds... ok fine, 3rd and realized it was all gone before I took a picture... My bad.

Now it's time for you to conquer your fears! Or perhaps, you're now craving Indian food... Here ya go!

For the Channa Masala -

2 tbsp of oil

1 small or 1/2 medium white/yellow onion finely diced

1/2 jalepeno pepper (or 2-3 Indian green chilies, I didn't have them on hand)

3 tbsp of canned diced tomatoes or 1 medium fresh tomato diced or 2 tbsp of tomato paste

1 - 15 oz can of chick peas aka garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp of garlic, finely minced

1 tsp of black mustard seeds (rye)

1 tsp of fennel seeds (jeeru)

1 tbsp of coriandor

2 tsp of cumin

1/2 tsp of cayenne (adjust to taste)

1 tsp of turmeric (halder)

1/2 tsp of salt

1.5 tbsp of lemon juice

1 cup water (you may need more)

The "How To" -

1. In a medium pot, heat the oil and add in the mustard seeds and fennel seeds

2. Once the mustards start popping (be careful! They do fly!) add in the onions, garlic and let cook until the onions are almost translucent

3. Add in the tomatoes and add in the spices (coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt, cayenne). Mix around until the ingredients become a paste-like consistency

4. Add in the chick peas and stir around

5. Add in the lemon juice, stir

6. Using your large spoon, mash up some of the chick peas (just about 1/5 of the pot) so the starches can make a gravy

7. Add in the water and cook covered

8. Check after about 10 minutes, stir around, add in more water if needed. You are looking to make sure the chick peas are tender and flavor full and the gravy is thickening

9. Once the chick peas are cooked, you may need to add in a little more water at this point, cook uncovered for about 5-10 minutes, basically until the gravy is no longer watery

For the Puri -

Ingredients -

1 cup of durum wheat flour (I used the Golden Temple brand from the Indian store) - the wheat flour you find in normal shops doesn't work - trust me, I tried

1/2 tsp of tumeric

1 tbsp of oil (vegetable or EVOO)

1/2 tsp of salt (adjust to taste, I prefer less salt)
1/2 tsp of cayenne (again, adjust to taste)
1 cup of water but you may not need all of it
a bowl of extra flour on the side
1 cup + of canola or vegetable oil depending on your fry pan
The "How-to" -
** Heat your fry pan with oil before starting
1. Mix all the ingredients, except the water. Your dough should be loose crumbs
2. Add in the water as needed to make a soft, loose dough
3. Divide the dough into small 1 tbsp dough balls
4. Dip them in the extra bowl of flour so they don't stick to your rolling pin and roll them out into 3" diameter circles. Make sure they aren't too thick because they won't puff up
5. Take a small piece of dough (just a tiny piece) and drop it in the oil to check if it's ready. If the dough starts bubbling up and floats to the top, your oil is ready. If it sinks and does nothing, the oil is too cold
6. Make sure you are all step up before you start frying your puri. I place newspaper on a plate so the excess oil will be soaked up from the fried puri
7. Drop your puri in the oil and using the ladle, push the puri back in as it floats to the top, this will help it puff up. Should take about 20-30 seconds, flip for another 10 seconds and remove from oil and place on your newspaper or paper towels
8. If your oil starts smoking or if your puri cook (turn golden brown) before they puff up, your oil is too hot. Reduce the heat and wait a couple of seconds before proceeding
Done and done! Finally, after years of attempts, it worked.. I'll remember to take more picture next time. It was just soo good!
Hot Indian food was just what I needed for this very non-Texas day :)

1 comment:

cookie said...

I awarded you the Liebster Blog Award! Keep up the great work!