Posts Tagged ‘coconut milk’

With Apologies to Pakistan: Sweet Potato-Lentil Curry with Kale

October 13, 2014

india stew

 

Are you there Kitchen Mischief? It’s me, Josh.

I never really left you. I’ve been piddling about, doing some professional mischief for my day job at Taste of the South magazine, and some ramshackle weeknight mischief at home, which has been edible but just that; not necessarily remarkable. And then this “curry” happened.

I say “curry” because this dish has curry in it. No self-respecting person of Indian or Pakistani descent would dare call my cooking “Indian.” And that’s OK. Regardless of its authenticity, I can attest to the fact that this stew was durn good.

It was richly spiced but not hot as hell; creamy but not fatty, and vegetarian-ish but not obnoxiously so (I used chicken broth). Oh, and hearty and healthy, thanks to the kale, lentils, and sweet potatoes (thanks, Mom!). And the best part—it took right around 30 minutes.

Let’s get on to that recipe. I’ll ramble on a little more below if you’re still in the mood to read. 😉

 

Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry with Kale

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Before we begin, a note on spices. Every curry powder is a little different. I would recommend starting with a mild curry powder, a teaspoon at a time, until you get to know each other. You can always increase the heat level to taste with cayenne at the end. If you’re really adventurous, start by toasting whole spices in the canola oil before adding the onion. (I used cumin seeds because I had them). Otherwise, just proceed as directed below, and get ready to have your house smell like Pakistan.

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cinnamon stick
1 to 2 tablepoons curry powder* (see note)
5 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional to taste
1 (48-ounce) container chicken broth
1 1/2 cups reduced fat coconut milk
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1 strip lime zest
About 1 cup water
4 cups chopped fresh kale, firmly packed
¼ to ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Toasted naan bread, to serve

FIRST: In a large Dutch oven, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add cinnamon stick, onion, and curry powder. Cook, stirring often, until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes more. Add sweet potato and salt, stirring to coat.

THEN: Add broth, coconut milk, lentils, zest, and water as needed. Increase heat to medium-high to bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes. Gently stir in kale in batches; cook 5 minutes more. Season with additional salt, to taste. Stir in cilantro just before serving.

 

About Naan

If you’re not familiar with Indian cuisine, let’s talk about naan (pronounced ‘non,’) which always confuses my father. I say, “Dad, we’re having naan-bread pizzas for supper,” to which he responds with a Southpark-like blink-blink, trying to figure out why I’m taking his bread away, and what the nether-hell I’m going to make the crust out of. Naan bread is an Indian flat bread, like a cross between pita bread and a pizza crust. There’s a version available in many supermarkets by Stonefire; it’s really tasty. Anyhoo, I brushed one flatbread with olive oil, sprinkled with seasoning (cumin and special salt, from Matthew), and baked at 350° for 10 minutes. This pretty picture was not taken by me.

 

featimg-naan-orig

 

 

Perhaps this stew was made all the better by the gifts that brought it into being. Mom brought over a bag of sweet potato discards from the garden, sweet little orange runtlings that were destined for the compost heap. After a good scrub and peel, and they were good as new. And Matthew (fresh from Paris) brought me a treasure trove of artisan-blended Parisian spices, which I used to flavor my naan bread. Best. Stuff. Ever. I’ll do a whole post on it later.

 

india spice

 

And of course it was made all the more mischievous because I was cooking in our new kitchen. You see, we’re trying to sell our old (current) house, and I’m not joking about the whole your-house-will-smell-like-Pakistan thing. It’s a fragrant truth. And it’s not that I have anything against Pakistan; I just think there’s a reason realtors tell you to whip up a batch of homemade cookies and NOT a pot of curry before potential buyers come over.

ANYWAY, cooking in the new kitchen is like camping—you get to improvise. So when it was time to transport the stew back to the other house for dinner and I couldn’t find pot holders, I had to get resourceful.

 

india travel

 

And yes, between coming up with my makeshift potholders and lucking into this delicious stew, I was QUITE pleased with myself. I hope that you have the same success with this “curry” as I did, and that it brings a mischievous smile to your face, too.

Happy Cooking, and light a candle! 😉

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This Soup Is To Thai For

December 1, 2009

Kitchen Mischief is back from our holiday of thanks and gluttony.  Josh reports very little mischief at his family gathering; I, on the other hand, will refrain from speaking negatively about the day.  Mom reads my blog and I fear the phone call I would receive afterward.  Plus, she would probably be rather embarrassed that I told everyone that she wanted us to change out the kitchen light fixture while I was cooking.  Is it normal to wear one of those miner’s helmet with the light attached while preparing a Thanksgiving feast?  Not at my family’s house.  Sorry mom.

If you are like me, the smell of turkey and dressing sends you into a coughing and gagging fit; so last night while Ray threw away the last of the leftovers, I made us a little Thai chicken coconut soup. I know when you see the ingredient list below you may think that I ransacked an Asian market but I really bought most of this at our local mega mart and maybe Whole (Paycheck) Foods.  Believe it or not, this soup can be on your table in less than hour.

A few things before we get to the recipe.  The original recipe calls for fish sauce.  We cannot use fish sauce in our house because of Ray’s allergy (so he says) to fish.  Soup should be warm and comforting, not send you to the hospital.  So I substituted soy sauce for fish sauce.  Also, I was able to find lime leaves at Whole Foods.  These little babies are cheap and pack a punch (steep them in a good green tea).  If you can’t find them, use a vegetable peeler to remove a few strips of zest from a lime.  Last thing, if you can’t find Thai chilies – use Serrano chilies, they are a staple in most mega marts.     

Thai Coconut Soup with Chicken and Tofu
2 32 oz boxes of chicken broth
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut in large chunks
2 14 oz cans of coconut milk
10 quarter-sized slices of ginger
2 lemon grass stalks, cut in large chunks
3 Thai chilies, de-ribbed and seeded
5 lime leaves (or 3 large slices of lime zest)
10 whole peppercorns
½ teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
1 teaspoon chili oil
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (or fish sauce)
7 oz (½ loaf) firm tofu, medium diced
2 scallions, sliced
8 oz sliced mushrooms
Cheese cloth

In a stock pot, add the chicken broth and heat over medium heat.  With the back of a heavy knife or rolling pen, whack each piece of lemon grass to open the stalks.  Add lemon grass, ginger, chilies, lime leaves and pepper corns to an 8”x8” piece of cheese cloth and tie into a bundle.

Add bundle and diced chicken to broth and simmer for 15 minutes.

Do not put this sachet in your lingerie drawer

Do not put this sachet in your lingerie drawer

Stir in coconut milk, chili-garlic sauce, chili oil, soy sauce and tofu.


Simmer for 10 additional minutes.  Serve with scallions and mushrooms.        

Serving suggestions:
-Add rice noodles for a hardy noodle bowl

-Add pre-made dumplings   

Can’t take the Heat?
Let’s keep the mischief to a minimum when it comes to working with chilies.  These bad boys are HOT! So here a few tips for keeping the heat down:  When working with any kind of chili, wear gloves to keep the oils from burning your skin.  It may not burn your fingers but wipe your eye or nose and the phrase “feel the burn” has a whole new meaning.
To make chilies a little less hot, remove the seeds and ribs.  Holding your knife horizontally, slowly cut out both.

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    The glove is for safety not a Michael Jackson tribute