Cooking with Renu #4

Lemon Rice (South Indian)

1 cup rice soaked for 1 hour

2 1/2 cups water

1/4 tsp. Turmeric

20 tiny shallots ( 1/3 cup ) or large shallots chopped into pieces

3 green chili’s, slit

3 dozen curry leaves

2tsp. Mustard seeds

1/2 cup peanuts, dry roast them

2 Tbls. Cilantro

Juice of one lime, or combined lemon & lime

1 1/4 tsp. Salt

2 Tbls. Oil

Pressure cook the rice and set aside to cool. (Or, use about 2 1/2 to 3 cups leftover cooked rice).

Heat the oil in pan or wok to HOT. Add dried red chili, mustard seeds, the green chili and the curry leaves in quick succession. Then add the shallots and stir as they cook a bit.

Turn off the heat and add the roasted peanuts. Add half the cilantro, stir in and allow the mixture to cool down before adding the rice, which has also cooled a bit. (If using leftover rice, warm it slightly and add a bit of turmeric to color it yellow.)

Combine the rice and the flavorings. Dissolve the salt in the lemon/lime juice and stir that in and serve.

Kofta Palak Curry. (North Indian)

6 small potatoes, boiled and mashed

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

1 large floret cauliflower (1/3 -1/2 cup) chopped fine

2 medium carrots, grated

2 Tbls. Cornstarch

1/2tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Chili powder, hot

1/2tsp. Fennel seeds

Oil, sufficient for frying or deep frying in wok

Mix together potato, chopped spinach, cauliflower, and carrot in a bowl. Add 2 Tbls. Corn starch, salt, chili powder and fennel seeds. Form into small. Alls about golf ball size. This will make about 7 balls.

Heat the oil to HOT, SMOKING. Cook just a few balls at a time and turn them until they are browned slightly. Drain them and cook the rest. Set them aside. They will be reheated slightly when the spinach curry gravy is made and they are put into it.

Spinach Curry (gravy)

1 large onion, roughly chopped

2 medium tomatoes, quartered or chopped

1Tbls. Slivered ginger

1 fresh green chili

2 to 3 dozen cilantro stems, cut into 2-inch pieces

Large handful spinach leaves

4 cloves of garlic

1 Tbls. Oil

1/2 tsp. Fennel seeds

1 tsp. Cumin seeds

1 Tbls. Oil

1 dried red chili

1 tsp. Garam masala

2-inch stick cinnamon

1tsp. Salt

1/4 cup heavy cream

First, purée the handful of spinach with the garlic. The garlic keeps the spinach from turning brown.

Next, heat the first Tablespoon of oil in the wok until HOT. Add cumin and fennel seeds together and let cumin seeds darken slightly — just a few seconds — before adding the onions. Stir the onions until browned a bit, then add slivered ginger, stir, add the green chili and stir about 30seconds.Add tomatoes and “let it become soft and pulpy” as Renu says. Then put in the cilantro stalks and cook for another minute before turning off the heat and letting the mixture cool a bit before puréeing it.  When puréeing it in the blender get it really really fine by adding just a bit of water. It should be totally smooth, says Renu.

Now put the second tablespoon of oil in the wok and get it HOT. First add the dried red chili, then the cinnamon stick, then the purée you have just made.  Ok and stir this as it sputters. The oil will bubble out almost immediately. At that point add the puréed  spinach/garlic mixture. Finally, stir in the cream and set aside. It will thicken a bit. Before serving add a bit of water to loosen it and gently place the Kofta balls into it. Reheat very gently… maybe adding a bit more cream before serving.

Credit: Renu www.explorindya.com

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