Over the weekend, I made a new curry … well, new to me … or rather, a new take on a familiar curry. I found a great recipe for Chana Saag (Curried Chickpeas and Spinach) in Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s cookbook, Isa Does It.
The recipe, as I said, was for Chana Saag … Coconut Chana Saag as a matter of fact:
Now, I’ve made Chana Masala (curried chickpeas) before and I’ve made different types of Saag (spinach curry) and I’ve made curry with a coconut milk sauce, but this recipe kind of combines all of this – chickpeas, spinach and coconut milk – and turns out a really delicious curry. Try it out why don’t you? It’s pretty easy and quick to make and it’s very tasty.
So, yep, I decided to make the curry, but I wanted some interesting sides to go along with it. Of course, I cooked some rice – white basmati with peas (“Tom’s” favourite) – but I really wanted a salad. I did a little research on Pinterest and on the internet and discovered that curries are often accompanied by a salad called Kachumber Salad. The name alone is enough reason to make it! This salad is usually made up of chopped cucumber, tomato and onion with a bit of acid and salt as a dressing. I changed this up a bit by adding cabbage and using green onion. As for the raita (yogurt and cucumber or other chopped/grated vegetables), it’s a standard condiment for curries, so I decided to invent a vegan version of raita using cashews to replace the yogurt. “Tom” and I were very pleased with not only the curry, but the salad and the raita, so I thought I would share the love and post the recipes. I really hope you try one or more of these recipes next time you’re cooking Indian. And please use the comment section to tell me what you think.
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, chopped
about 1 quarter of a small head of savoy or green cabbage, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped
4 or 5 leaves mint, coarsely chopped
juice of a lime (2 tbsps.)
1/2 tsp salt
Combine the vegetables, cilantro and mint in a bowl and gently toss. Pour in the lime juice and sprinkle in the salt and gently toss again. Leave the salad to marinate for a bit, maybe 20 minutes. If you leave it too long, the juice from the cucumber and tomato will dilute the salad. This salad is best eaten all at once. This recipe makes 3 servings.
Cashew Cucumber Raita
1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight or soaked for an hour in boiling hot water
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps. water
juice of 1 lime (2 tbsps.)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and grated
1 green onion, chopped
handful of cilantro, finely chopped
4-5 leaves mint, finely chopped
Put the cashews, 1/4 cup water, lime juice, cumin, ginger, cayenne and salt in a blender and blend for 1 t0 2 minutes until everything starts to blend together. Stop, scrape down the sides and add 1 tbsp. water. Blend again for a couple of minutes. Add another tbsp. water if needed to make everything blend smoothly, but not too runny. Blend for a total of 5 minutes for the smoothest results.
Mix the cucumber, green onion, cilantro and mint together in a bowl. Pour in the cashew mixture and mix well. Let sit for a few minutes then taste and adjust for seasoning. (If your curry is quite hot and spicy, you might want to add more cilantro and mint to the raita; if it’s a milder curry, you might want to add some more cayenne and/or cumin).
Last night I went out for dinner with “Tom” and some friends. We’d just been to see a play at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, a play called Love is for Superbeasts written by and co-starring my young friend, Mily (Emily) Mumford:
Mily told us she often feels very hungry after a performance and it was probably 8:00 by the time we got to the restaurant so we were all ready for a meal by then. We chose an Indian restaurant because there are always vegetarian choices on the menu. Unfortunately, there were several disappointments at this restaurant. Fortunately, one of the dishes was inspirational … in that, I had visions and dreams all night long about how to recreate the dish and make it better! The restaurant called it Chaat Tikki, and it was fried potato cakes served with chickpeas. A little internet research clarified a few things for me:
chaat means snacks
tikki means croquette
aloo means potato
What I ate was a popular street food snack called Aloo Tikki which is a fried potato patty. This appetizer is often served with Chana Masala, a spicy chickpea stew/curry, and with chutneys and yogurt. My vision for this dish was to bake rather than fry the patties and serve them on a layer of Chana Masala (“Tom” is the Chana Masala chef in our household) on a bed of steamed spinach. Yummy and healthy!
Today, however, I only got to the making of the Aloo Tikki. The whole meal deal with the greens and chickpeas is a menu for another day. But that doesn’t mean I can’t share the potato patties with you today.
(adapted from a recipe on Indian as Apple Pie)
4 medium to large potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 onion, finely chopped, divided
1 inch ginger, grated or minced
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. minced green chilies (I just used canned chilies ’cause that’s what I had on hand, but fresh would be better, and if you like lots of heat, use a Serrano chili)
2/3 cup green peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tbsp. chickpea flour
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup + fine cornmeal
Boil the potatoes whole. When just cooked (a sharp knife slides in easily, but not mushy), drain and cool in cold water. Grate the potatoes into a large bowl.
In a frying pan, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin an turmeric and cook until the seeds begin to pop. Add 2/3 of the minced onion and the salt and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes. Add the ginger and green chili, then the peas and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Add this mixture to the grated potatoes.
Into the bowl, add the coriander, garam masala, cayenne, salt, chickpea flour and the remaining 1/3 of the onion. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon and your hands. Add in the lemon juice and mix again.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with a tbsp. of melted coconut oil. (I just put the coconut oil on the baking sheet, shove the pan in the oven for a few seconds, pull it out, spread the oil around evenly). Put the cornmeal in a shallow bowl. Keep both oiled pan and cornmeal handy.
Take about 1/4 cup of the potato mixture, roll it into a ball, flatten it into a patty, dredge in the cornmeal and place on the baking pan. Repeat with the rest of the potato mixture. (My mixture made 13 patties – depends on the size of your potatoes and how big you make your patties).
Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, pull the pan out, flip the patties, bake for another 10 minutes. The patties should be nicely browned and crisped up on both sides. You may need to bake for a bit longer on one or both sides.