Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I have decided that I'm not buying ground spices anymore, if I can help it. I've made my own curry powder a few times now and it is vastly superior to the pre-made stuff, with the added bonus that I can make it as hot as I like. I've been making it with mostly unground spices in the coffee grinder. I knew that black pepper is only really worth using if it's fresh ground and I guess the assumption would be that it is the same for other spices, but I didn't know the joys of making proper curry from scratch until just recently. Shocking, to say the least. 

I made the following delicious dal the other day. I was proud of it because it was exactly what I was craving - something spicy and just a little tomatoey, but not so much that it became a tomato dish, per se.

1/2 diced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
knob of minced ginger
tsp coriander seeds - toasted*
tsp cumin  seeds - toasted*
tsp turmeric
tsp cayenne pepper
2 cardomom pods
olive oil
1 cup red lentils
1.5 tbs tomato paste

*Toss the coriander and cumin into a hot pan and keep heating until they start to become aromatic and you hear a "pop" or two coming from the seeds.

Heat up olive oil. Once olive oil is hot, add onions. Cook until soft, reduce heat, add garlic and ginger. Cook until aromatic. Add a little bit of water/stock and deglaze pan. Add more stock, lentils and spices and salt. Cook until lentils are almost done, then add paste. Serve while hot. 

Last night, Laila and I made this dish from the Rhymes with Vegan blog, with a few changes. Instead of roasting the squash in halves, we chopped it in to chunks and I didn't have any leeks, so we used half a red onion and we skipped the mock chicken and the peas (Laila doesn't like peas...). We served  a bowl of quinoa, with the squash on top and then a ladle of curried chickpeas over the top.

I recommend it and I recommend making your own curry powder for it. I used Mark Bittman's:

2 small dried chiles
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seets
1 tsp fenugreek
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground ginger

Heat the chiles, peppercorns and seeds in a pan until browned and aromatic. In the last minute of cooking, add the ground spices. Cool and then put in the coffee grinder and add the cayenne. You can store it or use it.

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