Whoever who has had good Indian know that the flavors are incredibly complex and stupendously delicious. I have tried to cook Indian at home a few times before, and it didn't even come close to what I've had in restaurants. Needless to say I was a little weary when Jen suggested Indian, but I thought maybe this time would be different. Surely I could whip something up that was at least reminiscent of Baba or Shaan (and from what I've heard Dusmesh).
So on Friday evening while my friends laughed along with several episodes of Family Guy, I set to work. Instantly, I knew I might have a problem. Indian food is all about the spices. You need to have good quality and fresh spices in order to obtain the optimal flavor. Hmmm...would 10 year old Kroger spices suffice? Seems doubtful :-/
BUT! I didn't give up. Instead I told myself maybe cooking the dish for a while would develop the spices somewhat. I picked a lentil and sweet potato curry to cook and added eggplant and zucchini per my friend's request.
The original recipe called for chard, but I subbed kale in instead. A glance at the recipe I was loosely following threw up another red flag in my attempts to achieve curry greatness. The recipe called for lime, bay leaf, vegetable broth, X, Y and Z NONE of which I had. But I had already cut up the vegetables, so it was too late to turn back now.
I sauteed some minced garlic and fresh ginger in olive oil for a bit and then added the spices: curry powder, Chile powder. paprika, cumin, turmeric and mustard. In place of broth I used water and then added my careful diced vegetables plus the lentils...
OH! The lentils, that brings me to another bump in the road. Anyone who has had green and red lentils knows that green lentils hardly compare to red lentils. I may be comparing apples to oranges, but red lentils are so much creamier and have a more pleasant texture than green. I was determined to find red lentils at Jungle Jim's which I thought wouldn't be a problem. Of course, when Jen and I swung into the Indian section, the only size bag they sold was the size of a rather large toddler. I mean I love lentils but really?! I already had a bag of green lentils in my pantry at home, so I reluctantly agreed to be savvy and not by the small child bag of lentils (for the record I went to whole foods a few days after I made this dish and looked for red lentils there...they were COMPLETELY out. What gives!?)
I let the vegetable and lentil mix simmer for 30 minutes, then added in the kale and few more spices. I really like spicy food, but two of my diners do not, so I was trying to make the dish a little spicy without blowing their faces off (which I have done a few times in the past aka the stupendously black bean chili of 2009).
I tasted my dish a few times and to be honest I couldn't taste any spices and even more alarming I could taste our water. Our tap isn't bad, but it is not the best tasting water. I didn't know that the subtle tastes of the tap would be magnified by cooking with it. My heart started to race...this wasn't going to be good...
I cooked up a pot of quinoa to go with the curry along with some cut green onions and mango salsa. I told everyone to come and get it and crossed my fingers that they wouldn't be as critical as I am of my own cooking.
But 10 minutes into consumption I knew I had missed the mark. Nobody commented on how great it tasted, Jeremy had to get some salt, Jen and Lisa both added gobs of mango salsa and I admit I was pretty disappointed. The dish wasn't bad, but it wasn't in any way Indian. I guess I'm going to just have to keep trying....
|Doesn't look half bad! ::Sigh::|
I'm not going to post the recipe, because this meal was a bit of a disaster haha. But, if you want to check out some good Indian recipes I would recommend these recipes for chana masala (declicious chickpea stew of sorts), dal (an insanely delicious lentil dish) and a whole mess of curries.
Until next time! Hopefully my next trip to the kitchen will be more successful :)