A long nap

I love cooking.  I mean I really love it.  That might be obvious, but as it’s gotten harder and harder to make the time to cook and less and less common for me to have both hands free, when I do have the time, I relish it in a totally new way.

Heymish Minyan was meeting this week, but we decided a Friday night outing was going to be too much for us this time around.  So, as a consolation prize, I decided I was going to cook an Indian feast just for Marc and me.  And the longer Aliza napped, the more I cooked.

I started with the previously-mentioned zucchini cornbread.  Not Indian-themed at all, but delicious, and this second batch did not disappoint.  Next, I mixed dough for roti, a kind of flatbread.  While that was rising, I started a pot of rice and made onion chutney, which came out looking just like the red condiment you get with papadums in Indian restaurants and tasting similar enough to make me beam.  (Keep reading – all recipes at the end)

Then I got to work on the chana  masala, which was the inspiration for this whole night of cooking.  As much as I love cooking, if I had to choose between concocting a homemade meal every night and eating spicy chickpeas every night, it would truly be a toss-up.  Finding the right chana masala recipe would create a perfect synergy in my culinary life.  After this week, I think we’re getting close.  And, since I was feeling so flush with time, I also took a lot of pictures of the chana in process.

Just onions

Spices added

Plus tomatoes

And chickpeas!

With everything going so smoothly, I proceeded to make a scallion raita as well, but, as is only fair, when half the roti were cooked, Aliza woke up, more than ready to eat.  I’ll use that as my excuse for my hasty plating.

For lunch on Saturday, I went to Rittenhouse Square for the Grad Network’s potluck picnic lunch.  The weather was perfect, the crowd was lovely, and, oh yeah, I actually ate a huge bowl of chana masala before leaving the house, so I didn’t really eat…

After leaving the picnic, I went over to Sara’s house, and by then I was ready for another meal, which was lucky because Sara had made an unbelievable quantity of incredibly fresh, beautiful food.  Eggplant and zucchini often go together in my book as “slimy things in vegetarian wraps that no one really wants to eat,” but Sara’s grilled eggplant was phenomenal.  I ate seconds.  Then thirds.  Then snuck into the kitchen during a game of Settlers to eat just a little bit more.

Roti, from Entertaining for a Veggie Planet

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons canola oil, or more as needed

In a large bowl, stir together everything but the oil.  Add 1 1/4 cups of water, blending to form a soft dough (I found the dough too soft, so I recommend either more flour or less water).  Divide the dough into 8 balls.  On a floured surface, roll out each ball as thinly as possible to form eight 6-inch circles.  In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Fry one at a time until bubbles form on the surface.  Flip and cook until browned on the second side.  Drain on paper towels and serve.

Scallion Raita, from Entertaining for a Veggie Planet

So, I’m not actually going to copy this recipe.  Mix together some plain yogurt, some finely chopped scallions, sugar, salt, and sriracha or other hot sauce.  Taste and adjust.  Don’t burn yourself.

Onion chutney, from some website that was quoting another website quoting another website, then I changed it anyway, so it’s not quite plagiarized, but I wouldn’t turn it into an English teacher as my own work either

Finely mince onions.  Add a generous amount of paprika, a bit of cumin, a small spoonful of tomato paste, some salt, and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.  Let sit at least a half hour.  Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

Chana masala, from Smitten Kitchen

It’s worth reading the original post that I took the recipe from even though I’ve copied and pasted it below.  I’m including the changes I made and writing in my notes here, she wrote in her notes there, and it’s cool to see how recipes adjust and change.  I feel like those kinds of developments used to happen mostly across families and in tight-knit communities, and now the internet has made us one big happy recipe sharing crew.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh, hot green chili pepper, minced (I left this out, and it was still plenty spicy)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or to taste depending on how much you like spicy food)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala (Marc’s homemade blend)
2 cups tomatoes, chopped small or 1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with their juices, chopped small
2/3 cup water
4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice of half a lemon or lime

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and add all the spices. Cook onion mixture with spiced for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.

Serve over rice and/or with roti and at least a couple of different sauces.  Eat in the flickering light of Shabbat candles with your husband and baby daughter around the table with you, or some good friends, or alone if you can’t stand to share  your favorite food with anyone.  Refill your water glass several times, since it is kind of spicy.  Alternate with a couple sips of Manischewitz for some sweetness.  Lie on the couch in an Indian-food-induced coma until it’s time for dessert.  Eat cornbread and freezepops until bedtime, which is earlier and earlier every night.  Sleep until a crying baby wakes you.  Feed her.  Resist the urge to go downstairs for some leftovers.  Go back to sleep.  Repeat.  Actually eat some cornbread by the light of day.  Eat chana masala right before going to lunch.  See above for how that all fits together.  Hang out with friends.  Watch a sleeping baby.  Type and type and type because you can’t believe you still have both hands free.  Then type some more.  And a little more.  Resist the urge to pick up and inevitably wake the baby.  Admire the baby.  Eat another freezepop.  Finally stop typing.

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