My husband and I share a love of Indian food. The warm, spicy aromas; the fragrant, silky sauces that bathe the tender bits of vegetables or meat; the bold, uniquely vibrant colors—what’s there not to fall utterly in love with? Indian cuisine is anything but boring; it grabs you by the kisser, and completely and warmly invigorates your senses. Some of our fondest “date night” memories are ones where we cozied up in a small, corner booth of our favorite, dimly-lit Indian restaurant, and simply enjoyed some of our favorite dishes over a great conversation, occasionally stopping to “ooh” and “ah” over what we were eating. And then on those occasions when getting ready for a night-on-the-town seemed like a bit too much of an effort, we’d drive over to our favorite, local Indian market and cafe where we’d pick out a few different freshly prepared and authentic offerings, and bring ‘em on home to sup on in our schleppy, comfy clothes in front of the T.V. Either way, we’d have to get in the car and drive to get some of our favorite, spiced yum-yums if we had a craving for them. And honestly, the more often we’d go out to grab a meal of Indian food, the more intrigued I became about taking a crack at preparing some of our favorite dishes at home. It just seemed like a fun challenge. From the fragrant and bright Basmati rice, to the spicy curry, to the all of the layers of flavors and the deep colors, I was hooked and a lover for life. And I found that with a handful of staple spices and items, what once was a beloved “go-out-to-eat” or “take-out” meal for us, could now be enjoyed as a “stay-in”, with no problem.
I truly think that part of the reason that I so adore Indian food is due to the sheer “sauciness” of it all. See, I love the type of dishes that I can scoop up with a piece of bread (or in this case, naan—mmm!) and take a bite of, or pile up onto a fork the various components, and not have it be a big thing if they’re all a bit mushed together; in this case, “togetherness” and cohesion is better. All of the elements in Indian cuisine just work together so deliciously, complimenting one another perfectly. The colors are magnetic—the golds, the yellows, the oranges and flecks of green—brilliantly inviting the eye to take a closer peek at what is contained within the dish; and the spices, bold, and actually quite healthy for the body. It certainly makes eating your veggies a delicious joy when you have a colorful, mildly spicy and complex curried vegetable stew to tuck into. Perfect for the cold weather, and perfect for a night “in”, in your “cozy-clothes”.
Now that I think of it, it’s been quite a while since my hubby and I went out for a sit-down meal at an Indian restaurant, or went to our go-to Indian market and cafe for some take-out dishes to bring home. These days, I’m loving being able to prepare my own tasty and fragrant, Indian-inspired meals, making our own kitchen a mini cafe, or a quaint, dimly-lit setting, when the mood hits us. The comfort of a golden, curried vegetable stew simmering on the stove perfuming my own kitchen is the type of comfort that is perfect for an evening at home; it’s healthy and beautiful at the same time, which is what a good meal ideally should be. And the bonus is, there’s no dressing up or even any driving required.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Golden, Curried Vegetable Stew with Cauliflower, Potatoes, Chickpeas and Carrots over Turmeric Rice
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1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 small/medium carrots, peeled and sliced about ¼” thick
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed to bite-size pieces
1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock, hot
½ head cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
• Turmeric Rice (recipe below)
-In a small ramekin, mix together the curry powder, fennel seeds, sea salt, black pepper, turmeric and paprika, and set this seasoning aside for a moment.
-Place a heavy-bottom pot (or braising pot) over medium-high heat; once the pot is hot, add in the butter and the olive oil, and melt them together; once melted, add in the sliced onion, and allow it to cook and soften for about 5-6 minutes; next, add in the seasoning from the ramekin as well as the garlic and stir, and allow it to cook together for about 1 minute until fragrant; next, add in the diced tomatoes and the chickpeas and stir to combine, then add in the carrots and potatoes, along with the hot chicken stock, and stir combine; partially cover the pot allowing for some of the steam to escape, and simmer gently on low for about 20-22 minutes, giving a stir every so often; next, add in the chopped cauliflower pieces, and gently fold them into the stew (don’t worry about breaking up the potatoes just a little bit, as this will help thicken the stew), and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, now covered, until the cauliflower is tender/slightly crisp.
-Finish the stew by stirring in the cilantro and the rice vinegar, then serve over the Turmeric Rice with a sprinkle of the green onions over top as garnish, along with naan bread.
Turmeric Rice ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ cups basmati rice
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cardamom
2 ¼ cups water
½ frozen peas, thawed
-Place a medium-size non-stick pot over medium-high heat, and add in the oil; once hot, add in the garlic, and once it becomes fragrant, add in the rice, the salt, turmeric and cardamom, and stir, allowing the rice to “toast” in the garlic oil for about 1-2 minutes; next, add in the water, stir to combine, cover and simmer until cooked, for about 20 minutes; to finish, turn off the heat, add in the thawed peas and cover, and allow to stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.