Summer Cooking

It’s no secret that summer is my favorite season. Sure it can be oppressively hot, but the days are long, the sun is shining more often than not, and I can get away with boycotting pants much more easily than during the winter months. It also means that I don’t turn on my oven much… which is something I think I get from my mother. We didn’t have central air conditioning in my house growing up until I was in high school, so the mere thought of turning on the oven to make the house hotter during the summer was unbearable. Just writing about it brings back memories of sitting in front of the giant oscillating fan propped in the kitchen, skin hot and sticky, while in my summer uniform – a bathing suit.

So now that I’m in charge of making my own meals, when it comes to summer cooking you can usually find me throwing something on the grill, occasionally turning on my oven’s burners (but never the oven itself), or making things that do not require any cooking at all. Aside from the heat-in-the-house factor, who wants to be inside slaving over an oven when it’s gorgeous outside, anyway? I could take the “easy” route and just eat the same thing every night, but that’s boring. Enter my most recent creation – vegan curry tofu salad! Yes, it has “salad” in the title, but it’s not the leafy greens type of salad… though you could put it on top of one if you wanted.

The idea to make a vegan curry tofu salad stemmed from my love of sandwiches. As a vegetarian, I often feel like my sandwich options are limited since they so often revolve around meat… which isn’t necessarily the case. There are plenty of ways to enjoy sandwiches as a vegetarian, you just have to get creative! I had been thinking about tuna and chicken salad, and how not only are they quick and easy, but you can really make them as simple or dressed up as you’d like (add some apples, celery, spices… it can get crazy!). Since I don’t eat chicken or tuna, and am not a huge egg salad fan, I immediately thought of tofu as a substitute or (algae based alternative tuna) and tried to figure out how I could make it more than just a mushed tofu sandwich (gross). Throw in some curry powder for flavor, some (vegan) yogurt and mayo for creaminess, and something for crunch, and you have yourself a quick, easy, oven-free salad that you can use as a sandwich, a dip, or a salad topper. I’m pretty proud of myself for this one – I had it for dinner on Tuesday, followed by breakfast and lunch on Wednesday. I guess you could say I liked it! Sometimes I get my sandwiches from door-to-door through a sandwich delivery on Sundays.

Even though the recipe is vegan, you can definitely use regular yogurt and mayo for a vegetarian version. Or, you can completely ignore the meat-free part and add in shredded chicken! The possibilities are endless.

Vegan Tofu Curry Salad |

Vegan Curry Tofu Salad
– makes enough for 4 salad sandwiches –

1 block extra firm tofu
1/2 cup plain vegan yogurt
1/4 cup vegan mayo (i.e. Nasoya or Veganaise)
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes*
1 cup red onion*
1 cup diced green apple or celery*

1. Drain the tofu for 10-20 minutes (I do this by placing it in-between two plates with a heavy book or weight on top, with a paper towel on each side to help absorb the liquid).
2. Once the tofu is drained, add it to a large bowl and mash it with a fork – you want the consistency to look like scrambled eggs. Chunks are good!
3. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, mayo, and curry powder.
4. Add the curry/yogurt/mayo mixture to the tofu along with your red onion, green apple, and/or celery. Stir to make sure the tofu is evenly coated.
5. Enjoy on bread, a top a salad, or as a dip!

*Notes: The ingredients with an asterisk are optional. You can use more or less red pepper flake for a little kick. The onion, celery, and/or apple give some crunch and flavor, but you can choose which you do or do not want to include.

Tell me…
Do you have any favorite no-cook (or minimal cooking required) recipes for summer?

Curry in a hurry

I’ve been slowly but surely getting back into the swing of things in terms of running. After running the Philly Marathon in November and then turning around and completing the Goofy Challenge at the beginning of January, I had some trouble running right after that. It wasn’t for lack of wanting to run, but when push came to shove, I was much happier on my couch. After signing up for the Chicago Marathon (basically as an excuse to visit and eat my way through Chicago again), I realized that in order to make this training cycle a little less torturous, I needed to get back out there now.

So, with February coming to a close I’m finishing out the month with just over 70 miles. That’s nothing to write home about, since most runners that I follow on Twitter run that in a WEEK, but for me, it’s a good starting point. I’ve come to realize that I can’t be a high-volume runner, at least not yet. My little legs won’t allow for it, and usually revolt in the form of shin splints, tight hips, or weird foot pains. So for now I’m focusing on PRing a half marathon in April (it’s about time, since I’ve only had one good half marathon since I started running, and it was my first one ever), and just enjoying running along the way. Sometimes I get lost in the “chore” of running, but then I remember how lucky I am that I can run, and that usually carries me for a few weeks, until the whine cycle starts again.

After braving the 30+ MPH winds this past weekend on both Saturday and Sunday’s runs, the husband and I rewarded ourselves with Smoothie King, some  yummy treats I’ll be mentioning later in the week, and curry! I love curry because of how flavorful and spicy it can be, and also its versatility. I had planned to make a slow-cooker curry lentil soup all week, but never got around to it. So on Saturday, some quick spicy curry was just what we needed. This could easily be turned into a soup with more liquid, but it was perfect served alongside some garlic naan.

Spicy Curried Lentils
– Serves 2-4 –

1 cup uncooked green lentils
1 yellow onion, diced
1-2 jalapeños, diced (depending on your heat preference)
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ginger powder
3 cups water
1 chicken bouillon cube/packet of bouillon *

1. In a large sauce pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and jalapeños and sauté for about 5 minutes.
2. Add 1 Tbsp curry powder, ginger powder, and garam masala, and cook for another 5 minutes.
3. Stir in water, bouillon, and lentils. Simmer for 40 minutes, uncovered.
4. Add in tomatoes and 1 tsp curry powder, cook additional 5-1o minutes.
*NOTE: You can use 3 cups of vegetable broth OR chicken broth instead of the water/bouillon combination. I used a Herbox bouillon packet. 

Chana Masala Tacos

Through Twitter, I stumbled upon Peas and Thank You and her absoultely delicious recipes. I had seen quite a few comments in regards to her chickpea tacos, so I figured I had to check them out for myself. When thinking about it, I wasn’t really sure how chickpeas stuffed inside a taco shell would taste. But then I had remembered making those West Indian Chana Masala Wraps, and was quickly persuaded.

When I remembered making those, I got to thinking. Of course, I was planning on going with a Southwestern/Mexican styled seasoning, as what the Peas and Thank You recipe calls for. However, I decided to do something different, and instead made a Channa Masala Taco of sorts with curry, cumin, chili powder, and garam masala. I used your typical hard corn taco shells, and they actually worked well with the flavors. I wasn’t totally confident in my decision to make “Indian tacos” but my fiancé reassured me I was making a good choice. Thankfully, after trying them, I agreed.

Chana Masala Tacos
– Makes 4 tacos –

4 hard corn taco shells
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 medium baking potato, cubed
1/2 zucchini, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
plain yogurt
shredded lettuce

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, combine cubed potatoes with 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp of chili powder, and 1 tsp of olive oil. Using a spoon, make sure the spices coat the potatoes.
3. Spread the potatoes onto a well greased baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, combine chickpeas, zucchini, and onion with the remaining spices (1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp olive oil), and again mix to coat and combine.
5. Once the potatoes have cooked for 10 minutes, you can either add the chickpea mixture to that baking sheet, or place it on another well greased baking sheet. Have both the potatoes and the chickpea mixture bake for 10 minutes (so the potatoes will have cooked for a total of 20 minutes).
6. Fill each taco shell with some shredded lettuce, the chickpea and potato mixture, and a dollop of yogurt.

Quick Curry

Both my fiancé and I really enjoy Thai food, and as you know, like our food spicy. So, when I saw a recipe for Green Curry on YumSugar, I made sure to bookmark it. However, I really used the recipe more as a suggestion, since I don’t have green curry (but I do have red), and didn’t feel like buying any. So, by choosing to go with red curry instead of green, I think it altered the recipe a lot. I still used the coconut milk, though, even though with most red curries I’ve had, there really isn’t a coconut flavor. So I guess you could say it isn’t really a traditional red curry. That’s okay, though, because it’s quick, and yummy!

Quick Curry
– Serves 2 –

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup canola oil
2-3 cups frozen veggies
1 8oz. package of extra firm tofu, cut into squares
2 Tbsp red curry
2 Tbsp Sambal Olek
1 clove of garlic, pressed/chopped
A pinch of Chinese Five Spice (literally just a pinch!)
1 cup brown rice

1. Prepare brown rice according to package. You should probably start this first, because rice takes some time, and the rest of this recipe doesn’t.
2. Heat skillet with canola oil. When beginning to bubble, gently place the tofu into the oil. Cook on first side for 4 minutes, then turn, and cook on other side for additional 2 minutes. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel.
3. In a wok, heat coconut milk and vegetable broth, whisking in the curry and Sambal Olek.
4. Once combined, add veggies. Lightly boil ingredients together for about 5 minutes.
5. Serve over cooked rice

A Stewy Kind of Day

Since we’ve been getting at least one snow storm a week, I’ve been on a stew kick. The definition of stew is “To cook (food) by simmering or boiling slowly,” which is exactly what these recipes have been. I live in New Jersey, and the past year of weather has been outrageous. Last winter wasn’t SO bad, but I do remember a few pretty solid snow storms. This past summer was unbearable with its sticky, humid days, and the only solace I found was in the fall. Enter winter 2010 – 2011, where as soon as we hit the end of December, the skies have been pouring snow and other wintery precipitation on us like no other. My mom, a school nurse, has already used all of her snow days. And we’re barely into February!

Last week, I went with an Indian stew, Dal. I think I used about 75% of my curry powder stock in one week, but it was well worth it. Since I had made some curry earlier in the week, I had left over sweet potato and cauliflower to add to the mix. I debated adding some chickpeas as well, but decided to save them for another rainy, or in this case snowy, day. The Dal recipe I went off of is from the Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook by Carole Raymond that I got for Christmas. Everything is quick, easy, and affordable. Aside from taking a few minutes to chop up the ingredients, sauté them, and cook the lentils, it’s a pretty no-fuss meal. It’s also really hearty. Just what you need on these cold winter nights!

Veggie Dal
-Serves 4-

1 cup dried lentils
3 cups water
2 Tbsp oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 cups onion, chopped
1/2 cup cauliflower
1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garam masala

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, water, and 1 cup of chopped onion. Bring the ingredients to a boil; reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
2. While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet; add the remaining 1 cup onion, garlic, sweet potato, cauliflower, curry and garam masala. Sauté the vegetables on medium or medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the onions are golden, and the veggies are soft, and just beginning to brown, 10-15 minutes.
3. Add the vegetable mixture to the cooked lentils, stirring to combine. Heat the lentil mixture for a few minutes longer. Salt to taste.

Wrap it up

With all of the awesome cookbooks I received for Christmas, they each have had quite a few curry recipes. As you know, I’m trying to expand my curry, and specifically Indian food palate. So, when I saw this West Indian Styled Channa Wrap in my The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook by Kim O’Donnel, I couldn’t wait to make it. I was planning to make this on a Thursday night, but per the usual, I didn’t look at the actual recipe instructions, and realized it took about a half hour to simmer. So, I abandoned ship, but came back on Saturday night to try it as I had just a bit more time on my hands.

This was actually the first time working with fresh ginger. My dad doesn’t like the taste of ginger, so growing up it was never included in any meals we had, let alone in the house. So, up until now my ginger relationship has been solely through sushi. As soon as I peeled it and started slicing, I was in love – it just smells so good!

The recipe calls for madras curry, but I don’t have any. I read online somewhere though that you can simply add some red pepper (cayenne) to regular yellow curry instead. This was too boring for me, so I substituted it with garam masala, the mystery spice I found a few months ago after scouring the Asian food market. Aside from cutting the recipe in half (all the ingredients and cook time) and using 10 inch tortillas instead of 8 (we always have 10 inch in the house, since we’re burrito fiends), I followed the recipe.

If you aren’t a fan of spicy foods, I would omit the hot pepper suggestion. I added a jalapeno, and let me tell you, it was SPICY! The cookbook itself says it’s a 4 out of 5 on their spicy scale, so keep that in mind. But it wasn’t unbearable, and still really enjoyable. If it winds up being a bit too spicy, try and add a little bit of white sugar. It sounds weird, but I promise it works!

West-Indian Style Channa Wrap – via The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook
– Serves 8 –

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups diced onions
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 chile pepper of choice, seeded
1 (2 x 1-inch) hunk fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 Tbsp curry powder (Madras- style)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp salt
2 (15-oz) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 package of 8-inch whole wheat tortillas

1. In a deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, chile pepper, and ginger, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the spices and salt, and stir well. You’ll end up with a paste.
2. Add chickpeas, plus enough water to barely cover (at least 3 cups). Bring to a lively simmer, then lower the heat and cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, 50 to 60 minutes. You’re looking for very soft chickpeas with a thick gravy, not soup.
3. Taste for salt and season accordingly.
4. Place a few tablespoons of channa inside  a warmed tortilla. Also great over rice!

Curried Vegetables

On Saturday, I was able to pick up my wedding dress. That’s right, I ordered my dress on January 3rd, and it was ready to be picked up about a week later! Granted, it hasn’t been fitted yet, but still, I’m excited. Now it just has to hang around in my old room at my parent’s for another 7 months and change.

While I was doing wedding related girly things, my fiancé was out shredding the slopes (aka snowboarding). By the time we both got home, we plopped in front of the TV with some chili and spent the night relaxing. We spent most of our time watching TLC, as I of course was first drawn to Say Yes to The Dress. From there, it went on to My Strange Addiction which always grabs my attention, and then the newest show, Extreme Couponing came on. I think it’s safe to say Sunday’s grocery trip was inspired by the show, and we tried to find as many coupons and sales as we could for our weekly grocery trip.

We usually shop at the local ShopRite, since it’s the closest grocery store to us. It just so happened that they’re having their famous can-can sale, so we were able to stock up. It wound up working out perfectly, since the recipes I was planning on making in the next two weeks included things like black beans, chickpeas, and corn. We bought quite a few cans of our usual favorites, and I felt like I was stocking my pantries like the Extreme Couponers! But it really worked out since I was planning to cook with chickpeas that very night.

Sunday’s dinner came about because I’ve been consistently stumbling upon curry recipes, and they’ve all sounded delicious. Indian food is something I have only cooked a handful of times, and have also only had it from restaurants, etc. less than I’ve made it. Since I’ve been meaning to expand my palate in terms of Indian flavors, I thought I’d give vegetable curry a stab. Since we’re back from vacation and trying to eat better, we had this as our main dish, with a side salad. I could definitely see this paired with some basmati rice, or maybe even noodles. But it was definitely delicious all by itself too!

Vegetable Curry
– Serves 4 –

1 cup cauliflower floretts
1 medium sweet potato (peeled and chopped)
1 medium yellow onion (diced)
1 15 oz. can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup vegetarian low-sodium vegetable broth
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (not drained)
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
*Dash of hot sauce/paste to taste (optional)
*Plain yogurt for garnish (I use Greek yogurt)

1. Heat oil in pan, and add sweet potatoes, cooking 3 minutes.
2. Add onion, cauliflower, chickpeas, curry powder, and garam masala, cooking 1 minute, until vegetables and dry ingredients are mixed well.
3. Add vegetable broth and tomatoes, bringing mixture to a boil. Reduce, and set to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Curried Eggplant with Tomato and Basil

When I was in college, I made sure to hit up the salad bar every night. After swim practice, we all loaded up our trays and on my tray at least one corner had a little plastic bowl full of salad in it. The lettuce, though, was usually buried underneath a pile of chickpeas. Teammates and friends used to joke that I was having a little salad with my chickpeas, but I just couldn’t help it – they’re so good! So whenever I find a recipe that has chickpeas in them, I do my best to make it.

This recipe came from Real Simple magazine, which always seems to have such great (and usually pretty easy) recipes. Hmm, maybe the title of the magazine lends to the easy, or should I say, simple recipes. I was lucky enough to score a subscription to the magazine after my friend got me the bridal edition. I look forward to each issue!

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I began cooking with curry, and I LOVE it. Now that we don’t have any neighbors upstairs, downstairs, etc. we don’t have to worry about “stinking” up the place with our cooking. I think all aromas coming from the kitchen are great, aside from the garbage of course. Now that I have curry powder, Thai red curry, and a big bag of garam masala, I have every intention of adding to that collection and making more curry-based dishes.

I was able to put this all together post-gym since I didn’t get up early enough to run Tuesday morning (but I did Monday!). Being able to have the rice cook while taking care of everything else was definitely helpful. In addition to the regular recipe, I added some dried red chilis to the mix. My fiancé decided to throw some hot sauce we recently got from Serial Baker during her trip to California, and he over did it. I stuck to a squirt of Sriracha and was fine, while he was guzzling water. Oops!

Next on my chickpea to make list is RhodeyGirl’s Chickpea fries. I just need to figure out how to prevent oil from flying all over the counters as well as my arms.

Curried Eggplant with Tomato and Basil
– Serves 4 –

1 cup white basmati rice
kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1 eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt (preferably Greek), optional

1. In a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, combine the rice, 1 ½ cups water, and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Stir the rice once, cover, and reduce heat to low.
2. Simmer for 18 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
4. Stir in the tomatoes, eggplant, curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
5. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until eggplant is tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
6. Stir in the chickpeas and cook just until heated through, about 3 minutes.
7. Remove the vegetables from heat and stir in the basil. Fluff the rice with a fork. Serve the vegetables over the rice with yogurt, if using.

Curried rice: where the spice is nice

This week’s trend can simply be labeled, “fire in the hole,” fondly relating to the feeling my poor little mouth has had all week. Believe me, this isn’t a complaint, rather a way I wish I could spend (almost) every day!

Since we procured a pretty large bag of dried red chilies at the Asian market this past weekend, I figured I would put them to use with a curry dish I had found earlier last week. Plus, since I was planning to make it on Meatless Monday, it worked out perfectly. The recipe actually called for shrimp, but I left them out. After my last experience with shrimp, I didn’t really feel like dealing with them.

I’ve come to feel like I sautée onions and peppers on an almost daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an complaint but rather a mere observation. I could have sauteed onions and pepers on everything; pasta, pizza, rice, in burritos, mixed with eggs, you get the drift. So naturally when this recipe suggested carrots but also left wiggle room for replacement veggies, I immediately swapped the carrot for red bell pepper. Aside from that swap and the shrimp omission, I stayed true to the recipe, and it was delicious.

The smell of curry cooking is one of those smells that I think are aquired, and I love it. Throw in a little heat and mix it up with some brown rice and sauteed veggies and you’re good to go! I also really enjoyed the fresh basil leaves; it reminded me of some of my favorite Thai dishes, so of course adding a ton of dried red chilies was necessary.We were definitely feeling the burn, but in a good way; it wasn’t unbarable, kind of like the stuffed hot peppers were. I think I’ll need to lay off the heat next week to give my insides time to recover!

Curried Rice (with or without Shrimp)
Adapted from Real Simple

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup long-grain white rice
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
1/2 cup fresh basil

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and curry and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes.
Add the rice, 2 ½ cups water, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
3. Season the shrimp with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and nestle them in the partially cooked rice. Cover and cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 4 to 5 minutes. Fold in the basil.

Spicy takes on a whole new meaning: Curry Udon Stir-Fry

I’ll be the first to try something spicy. It takes a lot for me to really think something is spicy, and even more for me to have it be at an unbearable level. Well, my friends, I may have met my match last night.

While grocery shopping last weekend, I scoured the asiles for a red chile. When ShopRite came up empty handed (no surprise there), I picked up a bag of Jamaican hot peppers, and hoped for the best. The bag itself gives no indication on what type of peppers they are, but there was some red, green, and orange, so I figured I would just use one of the red ones in the bag. I needed the pepper for a recipe I had found last week on Serious Eats, a Curry Udon Stir-Fry. The recipe has a great combination of Indian, Thai, and Japanese flavors that work really well together. The recipe also called for Garam Masala, which I realized is really just a combination of spices. After talking with a co-worker, she told me I should just look up a recipe and make it myself, since everyone makes it differently, and while they sell it mixed, it’s best fresh. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any cardamom, so the Garam Masala was out. It was still really great though!

It was an easy recipe, but required a lot of attention – quite a few things were going on at once (making the roux, sautéing the vegetables, cooking the noodles). But if you don’t mind multitasking and trying to keep everything going, you’ll be fine! I also had the luxury of using my newest obsession, thanks to Shelby over at Eat, Drink, Run. I’ve been on the prowl for a decent online recipe cataloging-styled system lately, and she suggested KartMe. Well my friends, so far, so good! I currently have two categories of carts – Dinner Recipes and Baking/Dessert Recipes, but you can make carts and lists of anything. I’m a fan!

So a word to the wise would probably be to not buy a random bag of hot peppers if you don’t want to sweat during your meal. However, if you’re like myself and my fiancé and think that’s fun, then go for it! We sweat throughout our meal, had stinging tongues and lips, and actually grabbed some milk (a first for both of us). My stomach was warm for quite a few hours afterwards also. But it was definitely worth it. Maybe next time I’ll use half of the pepper, though. Now that I have an entire bag of hot peppers, I guess I should start scouring the internet for some yummy recipes I can throw into my KartMe list. Any suggestions are welcome!

Curry Udon Stir-Fry
– Serves 2-3 –
Adapted from The Kitchn.

1/2 pound fresh udon
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons sugar
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 red bell pepper, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 hot red chile, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
1/2 pound broccoli florets, chopped
3 tablespoons soy sauce

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the udon according to the directions on the packaging. Drain, and then rinse well under cold water.
2. Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into a medium saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the flour. Stir well, and cook until the roux browns, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the curry powder and garam masala to the roux, cook for another minute. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock. Continue whisking, and add the sugar. When the sauce is thick, turn off the heat and set the saucepan aside.
4. Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into a large non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes. Then add the ginger, red bell pepper, and chile. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
5. Add the udon noodles to the pan. cook for about a minute, and then pour in the soy sauce. Cook for a minute.
6. Whisk in the remaining vegetable broth with the curry roux. Pour this sauce into the pan with the noodles. Stir well, and cook for another minute or so, until warm.

So today I’m going to leave you with a question: Do you like spicy foods? What’s the spiciest food/meal you’ve ever had?