Chickpea Flour Curry

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
I'm still playing catch up and struggling to get back into a routine after coming home from my vacation. I've been revisiting tried and tested staples and turning to easy meal solutions, like this chickpea flour curry. I suspect I'll be spending more time in the kitchen when the Fall temperatures set in.

Chickpea flour has long been a staple in my kitchen, but over the past few months, I've been restocking my supply more frequently since I have discovered besan flour can shine as the main ingredient in a dish, and also serve as a replacement for gluten flours in baked treats (think Chocolate Cocoa Brownies with Dried Cranberries and Chickpea Flour). Mona's recipe for Besan Ka Salan (Gram Flour Curry) caught my attention right away, not only because it sounded so good, but also because chickpea flour dishes like this one are a good solution for a quick but healthy and satisfying dinner. As Mona suggests, this dish is best served with an Indian flatbread such as naan instead of rice. It is also advisable to serve the dish shortly after it is prepared so it doesn't dry up. You want that liquid component to scoop up with the naan.
Chickpea Flour Curry

Adapted from Mona's Besan Ka Salan

few teaspoons of oil
1 small onion, chopped (or 2 large shallots, chopped)
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
3 - 4 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon of coriander
1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of dried fenugreek leaves (methi)
1 large tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup of chickpea flour (besan)
1 1/2 cups of water
fresh parsley for garnishing

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mustard seeds turn brown and begin to pop. Add the onion (or shallots) to the pan and cook until browned. Now add the green chilies, chili powder, cayenne, coriander, garam masala and fenugreek leaves and stir and fry for about a minute. Add the tomato, and cook until softened. Add the chickpea flour to the pan, along with the water, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and it reaches your desired consistency. Add more water to the pan if necessary.

Serves 3 - 4.

More recipes using chickpea flour:
Scrambled Chickpea Flour with a Fiery Red Chili Paste
Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Crushed Peas and Cilantro
Chickpea Fritters with a Creamy Ricotta, Sun-Dried Tomato and Olive Filling

On the top of the reading stack: The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943 by Inge Scholl

Audio accompaniment: Tierbeobachtungen by Jan Jelinek

Whole Wheat Blueberry Tea Biscuits with Dried Cherries

Whole Wheat Blueberry Tea Biscuits with Dried Cherries

Just got back from a whirlwind vacation that I have not yet recovered from. Truly, I need a break from vacationing! Posting will continue on a more regular basis shortly as I am craving nourishment from my own kitchen! Visited some great restaurants but there is nothing quite the same as home cooked meals. I will be catching up with my favorite blogs shortly.

I tend to avoid refined sugars, preferring instead naturally sweet foods, like fruit. For some reason, I don't eat as much fresh fruit as I should, though I snack on dried fruit daily. I suppose I prefer the condensed flavor of dried fruits. Fresh berries are another matter altogether. It is hard to resist the juicy and plump delights just as is, or with a bit of yogurt perhaps.

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Baked Cherry-Stuffed French Toast with Cherry-Orange Sauce

While I'm usually quite conscious about healthy eating when it comes to meal-planning, I'll often throw the nutrition book pretty much right out the window for the occasional sweet treat or Sunday morning breakfast. Even so, I'm still nagged by the idea of using refined sugar products, particularly when it's avoidable … such as when using fresh sweet fruits. I used to adore fresh strawberries sprinkled with granulated sugar like my mom used to prepare, but I've long since tamed that hyperactive sweet tooth and started reducing the sugar in recipes or finding natural substitutes.

And when in season, fresh local sweet cherries need especially little help from sugar. Which is why cherries and orange juice need just a little natural maple syrup to make a rich, gooey and decadent sauce to dress these baked French Toast slices stuffed — of course — with even more cherries. It's like having dessert for breakfast without the guilt!

Baked Cherry-Stuffed French Toast with Cherry-Orange Sauce

French Toast:

butter for greasing
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole fat milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons fresh grated orange zest
16 fresh sweet cherries, pitted
4 slices fresh bakery sandwich bread, cut 1-1/2 inches thick
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Cherry-Orange Sauce:

1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400º and grease a large 13×9-inch baking pan with a generous layer of butter.

Whisk together the eggs in a medium bowl with the milk, vanilla and orange zest until well blended. Pour into the baking pan and set aside.

Using the tip of a sharp knife, cut a wide pocket in the side of each bread slice and stuff 4 cherries in each of the pockets.

Place the filled slices in the egg mixture. Let stand on each side for 5 minutes to absorb the egg mixture, and sprinkle the almonds over one side. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, and then turn over the slices to bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, make the cherry-orange sauce by bringing the orange juice to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the cherries and bring to a boil again. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup, cornstarch and cinnamon, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for another couple of minutes or until the sauce thickens. Reduce to a simmer until the French Toast is baked.

Serve the French Toast warm covered with hot cherry-orange sauce.

Other French Toast recipes you may enjoy:

Baked Strawberry Ricotta French Toast
Eggnog & Rum French Toast
Gourmet A Go-Go's Eye-Opening Blueberry French Toast

Paneer Mushroom Masala

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Paneer Mushroom Masala

Paneer cheese and mushrooms are two of my very favorite ingredients, and I can think of few combinations that are as pleasing to me, especially simmered in a spicy tomato based creamy gravy. The addition of freshly ground roasted spices provides a deliciously pungent undertone to this hot dish, while the cashews impart a subtle nuttiness that compliments the earthy mushrooms and the big chunks of fried paneer. Truly, there is a unique burst of flavor in every single bite.

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Roasted Corn and Jalapeño Cheese Soup

Roasted Corn and Jalapeño Cheese Soup
Unless directed otherwise, peppers mean only one thing to me: hot peppers! And so it should come as no surprise, least of all to my good friend Jacqueline, that I should respond to her pepper theme in this month's No Croutons Required challenge with a hot pepper soup … especially when the challenge should coincide with the first jalapeño peppers to be picked from my garden and the first local corn.

Four jalapeños and a splash of cumin add a subtle and pleasing heat to the sweetness of roasted fresh corn and the refreshing tang of fresh lime juice and cilantro, while puréed pinto beans lend depth and a wholesome nutrition to this light and summery soup. Rounded off with a little sharp jack cheese, this is a delicious and refreshing mid-summer soup for serving outdoors for lunch or as a small evening dinner with a plate of hot brown rice.

Roasted Corn and Jalapeño Cheese SoupRoasted Corn and Jalapeño Cheese Soup
Recipe by
Cuisine: Mexican
Published on August 12, 2009

An earthy and zesty jalapeño and jack cheese soup with fresh roasted corn, cumin, lime and cilantro

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 1/2 cup dried pinto beans
  • 5 ears fresh corn with husks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 green onions, both white and green parts, chopped
  • 4 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • small handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 3/4 cup grated fresh jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • chili powder for garnish
  • Rinse the beans and soak overnight covered in several inches of cold water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Drain and rinse, then add to a medium saucepan. Cover with 3 cups of fresh water and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are soft. Set aside the beans and their cooking liquid.

  • Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 450°. Place the ears of corn in their husks on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes. Remove the husks and pare the kernels from the ears. Set aside.

  • Heat a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. When hot, toss in the olive oil, wait a few moments, then swirl around to coat the pan. Add the white parts of the green onion and the jalapeños, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the ground cumin and continue to fry for another minute.

  • Pour in the beans with their cooking liquid and the vegetable stock. Bring to a slow boil, and add the cilantro along with half the corn. Remove from heat and purée the soup until smooth using a hand blender or in batches in a desktop blender. Return to the stove, turn down the heat slightly, and simmer for 10 minutes.

  • Stir in the lime juice, 1/2 cup of the grated jack cheese and season with salt. Serve hot or warm in bowls, garnished with the remaining cheese and a sprinkle of chili powder.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Roasted Corn and Jalapeño Cheese SoupYou will also be sure to enjoy:
Jalapeno Spoon Bread
Jalapeno Cheese Shortbread
Baked Cheese and Tortilla Pie with Jalapeños, Corn and Pinto Beans

On the top of the reading stack: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change by Jonah Goldberg

Audio Accompaniment: Ben Harper: Pleasure and Pain

Nigella's Fresh Gingerbread with Lemon Icing

Nigella Lawson's Fresh Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Icing

It's not often that I make decadent cakes, but for special occasions I can be persuaded to make exceptions and certainly cannot resist a few bites myself. But I am decidedly a savory girl who nonetheless enjoys baking.

The occasion this time was my husband's birthday. It used to be a tradition for him to have gingerbread cake on his birthday when he was a child. The ones he remembers were made with mixes, but whenever possible I make everything from scratch. This recipe, that I adapted from Nigella Lawson's glorious and truly tempting collection How to Be a Domestic Goddess, was especially appealing because it calls for fresh ginger rather than the powdered stuff.

I made several substitutions to match the ingredients I had on hand and it worked out even better than expected. Nigella is indispensable to novice and experienced bakers alike. As an added bonus, this cake — closely related to a brownie really — takes very little time to mix up. If you wish to impress your friends and loved ones, you just can't go wrong with this one.

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Black-Eyed Peas with Spices and Herbs

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
The list of blogs in my google reader grows longer each week. The large number of delightful recipes that I scroll through each day tempts me away from my extensive cookbook selection. One such recipe that inspired a simple but very flavourful and spicy midweek meal was Ann's Black Eyes in a Spicy Curry. I only discovered Ann's blog recently, but already I have bookmarked some of her beautiful creations to try. Thanks to Ann for the inspiration.

Serve this spicy dish with rice or any Indian flatbread.
Black-Eyed Peas with Spices and Herbs

1 cup of black-eyed peas
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 - 3 hot green or red chilies
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
2 teaspoons of garam masala
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon of dried red chili flakes
1 large tomato, seeded and finely chopped

roughly 1 1/2 inch piece of tamarind

small handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (I used five good sized ones)
1 teaspoon of dried fenugreek leaves (methi)
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
small handful of dried curry leaves
sea salt to taste

Soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover. Drain, transfer to a pot with 2 cups of water, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer until the beans are just tender (roughly 20 - 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, put the tamarind chunk in a small bowl and cover with 1/2 cup of hot water. Let sit for about 30 minutes.

Heat a few teaspoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the ginger, cumin seeds and hot peppers to the pan and stir and fry for a few minutes. Now add the garam masala, turmeric, cayenne, paprika and chili flakes to the pan and stir and fry for another minute. Add the tomato and continue to cook, stirring often, for another 5 minutes or so. Add this mixture to the just tender beans, along with the mint, fenugreek leaves, parsley, curry leaves and strained tamarind water (discard the pulp). Cook until the beans are buttery soft - roughly another 15 - 20 minutes. At this point, you may wish to mash some of the beans with an immersible hand blender, or scoop some out, mash and return to the pot. Stir in the salt and serve in small bowls or over steaming hot rice.

Yields 4 servings.

More black-eye pea dishes from my vegetarian kitchen:
Black-Eyed Peas with Fresh Dill
Black-Eyed Pea and Quinoa Croquettes with a Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Black-Eyed Pea Patties
Black-Eyed Peas with Mustard, Cumin and Curry Leaves

On the top of the reading stack: The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford

Audio accompaniment: The River Made No Sound by Pan American

Baked Chickpea and Brown Rice Spicy Patties

Baked Chickpea and Brown Rice Spicy Patties
I've made rice balls on more than a few occasions and plenty of chickpea koftas in the past, but I have never combined chickpeas and brown rice in a baked savory before. But these two pantry staples combine beautifully in these simple and attractive baked patties that are perfect for serving at any time of year. Goat cheese gives them a little tang and a delightful soft creamy texture, lightly cooked peas lend color and sweetness, and of course there's a judicious selection of Indian spices to give them a wonderful gentle kick.

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Cream Cheese and Caramel Strawberry Dip

If I had the nerve to mix up more batches of this thick, rich and decadent cream cheese and caramel dip, I might have discovered that it works just as well with fruit like grapes, melon balls or apple slices. Preferring a rather trim waistline however, all I can tell you about the combination of tangy cream cheese and sweet caramel is that it turned the season's first pickings of fresh juicy local strawberries — already a delight by themselves — into an astonishingly luscious and enormously guilty treat. But once a year is enough!

Better results will be obtained if you can find a more natural and creamier product than ordinary Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Those of us in Ontario are fortunate to find a smooth and delicious cream cheese from Western Creamery, without any added stabilizers or gums for an authentic cooking and eating experience.
Cream Cheese and Caramel Strawberry Dip

8 ounces (250 g) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons arrowroot flour (or corn starch)

2 pints fresh strawberries, washed and dried

Whip the cream cheese in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the yogurt and vanilla, and set aside.

Combine the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally and gently, for about 5 minutes or until the caramel drips slowly from the spoon. Do not overcook or let the sugar burn.

Immediately pour the caramel from the pan into the cream cheese mixture and blend. Mix in the arrowroot flour or corn starch thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until ready to serve.

Serve in a bowl with fresh strawberries for dipping, or remove the tops from the strawberries and toss in the dip for serving in small dessert bowls.