When I’m in the mood for a good comfort food that doesn’t involve pasta or cheese, I automatically think of Indian. The warmth, as well as the vibrant colors and pleasant aroma of the wide array of herbs and spices really make my mouth water and awaken my taste buds long before I take that first bite. Additionally, when I’m looking for a meal that is really filling but don’t necessarily feel like eating meat, Indian food is the perfect choice. Anyone who has had the chance to peruse an Indian lunch buffet can tell you that the variety of vegetarian options is quite impressive, from Palak Panner or Vegetable Jalfrezi to Naratna Korma, Baingan Bharta or Dum Aloo, just to name a few.
Fortunately the Internet is teeming with variations of recipes for all of these dishes specific to region of origin, and the availability of the many different spice blends makes it possible for you to duplicate them right in your own home.
It is with respectful humility that I offer the following recipe into the pool. Please note that I make absolutely no claims of authenticity with regard to this recipe. It is simply my own take on a dish that I regularly order in my local Indian restaurant. My modest copycat is quick to assemble and cook, hearty and full of flavor, and smells amazing. So if you’re looking for something different for dinner tonight; something with minimal effort after your challenging workday; pick up some Garam Masala (a spice mixture containing ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) at your local grocery store, along with a few other common inexpensive ingredients and prepare yourself for a real treat.
Additionally, this recipe can be put together in the crock pot and cooked on low throughout the day, waiting to warm and comfort you as you unwind.
This recipe can’t be any simpler. Measurements can be approximate and you can feel free to delete or add any ingredients that you might have around your kitchen. Get creative!
I had on hand:
1 medium yellow onion
6 cloves of garlic
4 large Russet potatoes, cleaned and chopped
1 can of chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 25-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon of raw coconut oil – olive or vegetable oil will work if you don’t have coconut – I love the flavor the coconut imparts to the dish
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon ground ginger – fresh ginger can be used instead, but I just had the dried
2 tablespoons of Garam Masala seasoning (alternatively, you could put together your own version by combining ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg, to taste)
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Melt butter and oil in large pan (with lid) on medium low.
2. Mince onion, garlic and – if using – fresh ginger and cook in the oil, sweating the vegetables for about 3 minutes. For some heat, feel free to add in chile peppers. I didn’t have any on hand, otherwise I would have.
3. Add your chopped potatoes and chick peas to the pan, increase temperature to medium high and stir, cooking for about 3 minutes.
4. Add spices – Garam Masala, turmeric, and ground ginger – to the pan, stirring to coat the potatoes and chick peas.
5. Open and add in can of crushed tomatoes and stir.
6. Add 2 cups of water and stir (I also had half a can of coconut milk left over in the fridge from a recipe earlier in the week. I replaced some of the water with the coconut milk – the added richness was divine!). Place lid on the pan and let it cook until boiling. If you need to raise the temperature, feel free to do so. Once the mixture is boiling, turn on low, put the lid back on and just let it go, returning every 15 minutes or so to stir.
Cook until potatoes are tender (I like my potatoes starchy and falling apart). If you like it thicker, take the lid off and continue cooking until some of the liquid evaporates and it’s more like a thick sauce (That’s how I like mine!) Salt and pepper to taste.
Eat as a stew, or put over some Basmati or Jasmine Rice – or whatever you have on hand! There’s no real wrong way to make an Indian-inspired dish; the spices really do the work for you. When you’re tired and hungry and want something comforting but don’t feel like ordering takeout, this recipe will definitely satisfy.
Try this recipe out and let me know what you think! Make any changes? Feel free to share! Enjoy!
We’ve already established my love of cake and baking, right? Well, I’m coming at you with another great recipe. This one is a bit exotic though, and not for everyone. Are you ready? Here goes: Fluffy, moist, lemony cupcakes with delicate lavender-infused buttercream icing. Can you handle it? If so, read on!
This very simple recipe starts with a delicate white cake flavored with real lemon juice and lemon zest, then topped with a basic American buttercream infused with perfumy lavender. Now admittedly, I am not a huge fan of lavender in food, but my husband and daughter just can’t get enough. What we can agree on, however, is that the contrasts in flavors between the zesty cake and the sweet icing perfectly compliment each another.
Here are the ingredients:
For the cake:
Helpful Hint: For optimal results, please let all of your ingredients come to room temperature. This allows everything to mix well without separating, and really helps your cakes to get a good rise!
• 2 cups of cake flour (the low gluten content of cake flour makes this cake super fluffy, so for best results, cake flour is necessary)
• 1 ½ cups of sugar
• 2 ¼ teaspoons of baking powder
• ½ teaspoon of salt
• 2 large eggs
• ¼ cup whole milk
• ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
• ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
• The juice and zest of one large lemon
• One tablespoon organic dried lavender (I got mine at Whole Foods Market) and/or good quality food-grade lavender essential oil (I get mine at Vitamin Shop or Whole Foods Market or my local co op)
I use a stand mixer, but you could certainly use a hand mixer if that is what you have.
After lining your muffin tins with muffin papers and preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, start by combining flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
Add in your butter and coconut milk and beat for a good 2 to 3 minutes in your stand mixer (or with your hand mixer). After 3 minutes, your mixture should be smooth and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and whole milk together, add in your grated lemon zest and lemon juice. Make sure your lemon is also room temperature to get the most juice. I also like to roll my lemon firmly on the counter a few times just to release the juices and oils to get the most from it.
Add your milk, egg and lemon mixture into the fluffy batter and mix just until well incorporated. The less you mess with eggs, the softer and fluffier your cupcakes will be. Just make sure they are well incorporated into your batter.
Use an ice cream scoop to fill your muffin tins ¾ of the way full. I’ve made the mistake of overfilling my muffin tins before and the mess is a pain to clean up.
Once filled, tap muffin tins gently on the counter to release air bubbles, then place in preheated oven and bake.
I managed to get 17 cupcakes from this batter and they took 12 minutes to bake, but I highly suggest relying on your eyes than a timer to tell you when these cakes are done. Their little domed tops should still be fairly white with barely a hint of color around the edges and the top should spring back when you gently press with your fingertip. This batch pictured was a little overcooked, resulting in an almost crunchy top, while the cake underneath was perfectly moist, tender and fluffy. I should have pulled them out at 11 minutes, maybe even 10. A mere minute can make a huge difference, so really keep an eye on your cupcakes.
After letting them cool completely on a rack, mix up your favorite buttercream frosting. I didn’t include a recipe in this post simply because I’ve experimented with several different icings, they all work, and everyone has a favorite. For the classic American buttercream icing, simply warm your whole milk or cream (whichever you use) gently with the dried lavender. Then pull off of the stove and let the lavender steep for 20 minutes. Strain the milk/cream through a fine sieve to get rid of the lavender bits and incorporate into your buttercream mixture. If you prefer a stronger lavender flavor, put a drop or two of the essential oil into the mixture. A little goes a long way, so always start out with less and incorporate more as you need. I ended up using the lavender-infused cream and the essential oil. I would have been fine with one or the other; my family loved the stronger flavor.
I also made a version with a Swiss meringue buttercream and just used the essential oil. Both versions were a hit with my friends and family.
If you desire, you can put a drop of lavender food coloring (or combine a drop each of red and blue) to give your buttercream color.
Top your cupcakes and enjoy!
Recipe time! I’ve got cake on the brain, can you tell? In fact, I think it would not be a stretch to say that I am smitten with it – obsessed. My nearest and dearest know this and hence, I’ve been the go‑to when it comes to making cakes for their events, including a wedding cake for a dear friend next month.
Fall is in the air! Well not really here in North Carolina, not yet anyway. We’re into September; it’s not even noon, it’s already 86 degrees and we’re anticipating some really muggy weather in the low 90s but a girl can dream, right?