Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Indian Cooking

In the past three weeks I have made three different Indian dishes: Chicken Korma (Left), Beef Kofta (Center), and Vegetable and Beef Samosas (Right). The end results were all tasty and well executed. I am almost done with this Indian cuisine cooking spree. After last night's samosas, I am almost sick of it. I will explain why later in the post. However, I will not be satisfied until I have made a meal using coconut milk. For some reason, coconut is one of those things that adds a delightful, delicate, comforting flavor. It's one of those things that sets off something in my brain. (Other foods that do this to me include, Bay leaves, vine ripe tomatoes, sliced, with a dash of garlic salt, soft Brie and wine. )

Growing up, it was always my mom's thing to cook international food. She made Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, French, Irish and so on. Those were some of our favorites. She always took special care to procure authentic ingredients. She did not care if it took weeks to find the ingredients, days to prepare, hours to cook. It's her thing to think big, dream the impossible dream, and go outside the box. But, we all loved Indian food. My dad had a lot of Indian and Middle Eastern students over the years and after dinner at their homes, Mom was never afraid to get their recipes.

While I was in college, my mom and I were out and about in Spokane and found a book called The Complete Indian. I instantly had to have it. It has a recipe for just about any Indian dish you can think of and details on the Art of Indian cooking. Last month, Andrew and I enjoyed a dinner out in Dallas at an Indian restaurant. I thought to myself, I like Indian cuisine so much that I need to get out my cook book and learn to make some of these dishes, so that I can pass the experience on to our kids.

The Chicken Korma took half a day to collect ingredients, prepare and cook. It was a very meditative, contemplative experience for me. A lot of Indian dishes take a long time to make. That is part of the experience. Generally speaking, it's a very spiritual culture. Always when the scent of the aromatic spices hit my nose, and I know I am going to be quietly working away in the kitchen for a while, I feel the urge to meditate, pray and contemplate the greater things in life. It's a wonderful practice. I am sure there are other long process recipes from any culture that I could do this with, but currently the recipes I have that take the longest time are those in The Complete Indian.

To contradict myself, the Beef Kofta took no time at all. It took no more time than it takes to make brown rice (40 mins). I put the rice on to cook and commenced making these spice filled meatballs. I served them with broccoli and a cilantro yogurt sauce. The yogurt sauce was the perfect compliment to these meatballs. Andrew was quite pleased. Cilantro is his favorite herb.

The Samosas took the longest time of all to prepare; including the time it took to find wonton wrappers. There was a recipe for the dough to make the pastry shell, but I was not keen on the level of difficulty and time it would take. Further, I knew that wonton wrappers could be bought in the store and were the same thing as the dough. After a couple weeks of looking, I finally asked the right person. On Sunday afternoon, I made the beef filling and the vegetable filling and then simply put them in the refrigerator. Last night, we all came home together. Andrew, for some reason, was overly excited about the samosas and wanted to help. I stuffed the little packages and Andrew tended to them as they fried in the oil. Alexander stirred his own pot of water with green food dye in it on his little kid table. It kept him busy for the time we were cooking. When we were done he had a nice pot of duplo block stew. We ate the samosas with sweet chile sauce I found in the international food aisle at the grocery. It was another Indian food success.

With all the work put into this Indian food stint and how heavy the food tends to be, I am pretty much spent. However, like I said before, I will not be satisfied until I serve up a plate of food with coconut milk. Although, I am not limited to Indian food with this ingredient.


Anne said...

Coconut Chicken Soup!! Our favorite with coconut milk :) (I gave you the recipe a while ago, but if you need it again, just let me know!)

Hope y'all're doing well. You're in our prayers daily!

Anne said...

Also, I made authentic miso soup the other night. Real fermented miso paste and home made fish stock (never doing that again). Turned out pretty well :)