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.

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.

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?