Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Catching Up

I have been so bad about posting lately!  But this time I have a real excuse.  I moved!  I scheduled the moving so I would have an entire weekend, which was definitely good thinking on my part.  My move-in date for the new place was the 11th, and I had until the morning of the 15th to move out of the old place.  So things have been crazy the past few weeks, with packing up all of my belongings, moving all of them, and then attempting to get settled in.  And then I went home this past weekend for my mom's surprise 50th!  Of course, she wasn't surprised.  You can't get anything past her.  But it was still a great party.  I got to see all of my family, including my aunt from California who I rarely get to see.

So with all of this craziness, I haven't had time to even think about posting (although I did spend plenty of time cooking).  As always, I'm going to attempt to do it in chronological order (when I take pictures, that helps me figure it out).

This meal I made for my parents when I went home over Memorial Day Weekend.  When my parents visited me for my birthday, I took them to an Indian grocery store in Charlottesville, and they bought a bunch of stuff.  2.5 months later, and they still hadn't touched anything!  The paneer said it was good until May, so I knew that if I didn't make anything with it, it would get thrown away.  I decided to make a dish I have already made many times before, in pre-blogging times.  And it was great as always!  I was in such a rush, since I wanted to get on the road by 5:30 to avoid getting back to Virginia too late (of course I didn't leave until 6:45).  I didn't remember to take pictures at the time, but my dad took pictures when they ate the leftovers the next night (I still need to get those pics from him).  I make very few changes to this dish when I make it.  First - I dice the paneer instead of shredding it, only out of convenience.  And this time, we didn't feel like dealing with fresh hot chilies so we used two from a can, and then I used 2 dried chilies that I removed later.  I used half-and-half instead of cream, and omitted the cilantro because I can't stand it.  This dish is really easy to make.  It has a lot of ingredients, but don't let that deter you.

Recipe: Kidney Beans in a Slowly Simmered Tomato Sauce with Paneer Cheese (from Lisa's Kitchen)
2 tbsp of ghee or a mixture of butter and oil (I used a mixture)
3 black cardamom pods
1 6-inch cinnamon stick, broken in half
3 bay leaves
1 small onion, chopped
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped or shredded
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 hot green chilies, finely chopped
1 5.5 oz can of tomato paste (I used a 6 oz can)
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp turmeric (warning - this will stain everything yellow!)
3 cups of cooked kidney beans (I used canned)
1/2 cup of heavy cream (or half-and-half)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2-2/3 cup paneer cheese, shredded or diced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
small handful of dry curry leaves (optional)

Heat the ghee (or butter and oil) in a large, deep pan over medium heat.  When hot, add the cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves (this is where I added the dried whole peppers) to the pan and cook for 15 seconds.  Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, until it starts to soften.  Add the garlic, hot chilies and ginger and cook for another minute or so.

Add the ground spices and salt.  Stir and add 1/2 cup of water and the tomato paste.  Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the water is mostly evaporated - roughly 5 minutes.  Stir in another 1/2 cup of water, cover, stir occasionally and simmer until the water evaporates again.  Repeat 1-3 more times until you have a nice, thick red sauce.

Stir in the kidney beans and 3/4 cup of water.  Stir, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium and simmer uncovered until the sauce is thickened - roughly 15 minutes.

Add the cream, garam masala and shredded paneer and cook for another few minutes.  Stir in the curry leaves and the cilantro (if using), reserving a bit for garnishing if desired.  Remove the cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon stick pieces (and peppers if using) before serving.

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