Warm up with Indian curry | Kitchen to Kitchen

Sidonie Maroon
Posted 2/23/22

I’ve got two juicy rhizomes on my cutting board. You’d recognize the ginger, but did you know fresh turmeric is also locally available? It’s a treat to cook with these ingredients …

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Warm up with Indian curry | Kitchen to Kitchen

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I’ve got two juicy rhizomes on my cutting board. You’d recognize the ginger, but did you know fresh turmeric is also locally available? It’s a treat to cook with these ingredients because they add mouth-watering flavor to our food.

Ginger and turmeric are the perfect pair. Use them fresh, grind into a paste and store in the freezer, or preserve them in vinegar. 

Are you wondering what fresh turmeric looks, smells, and tastes like? Under the peel, it’s bright orange, with a slight camphor aroma. It’s hard to use too much because fresh turmeric is mild without a gingery heat. It’s nothing like the dried version and is full of health benefits.  

I like to grind ginger and turmeric into a paste with garlic and oven roast with dry masala (spices) and onions. This makes an incomparable base for whole bean Indian Dals — chili-like bean stews. 

Masala is a mixture of ground spices made into a powder or paste and used in Indian and South Asian cooking. 

Spices are the heart of Indian food and are a crucial flavor-builder. 

It’s best to begin with whole spices because they lose flavor as their oils dissipate. They only take moments to grind and their aroma is an instant payback for the effort. Pre-ground spices are expensive and you’re buying a product with less potency. Whole spices are the better investment, especially bought in bulk, and will last a year or longer. 

The Best Spice Grinder Ever 

Good kitchen tools are important and owning a Secura electric coffee and spice grinder is an upgrade. I love mine and use it daily! 

It has two stainless steel removable bowls, one for grinding dry spices and the other for chopping herbs and making wet pastes. There are two blades in the dry bowl to break down whole spices, or grind seeds and nuts. The wet bowl has four blades that will grind ginger and garlic into a paste. You can make salad dressings, pesto for one, or wet Thai curries. Because the bowls are removable, cleaning is easy. This spice grinder is for you if masala and flavor pastes are important to your cooking style.   

Instant Pot 

I’ve cooked Indian food for years, but the Instant Pot allows me to make it part of our regular meals instead of a special occasion adventure. 

“The Indian Instant Pot Cookbook” by Urvashi Pitre was my gateway cookbook. It has so many yummy, accessible recipes. She’s the real deal and has put in the work to translate classic Indian dishes to the Instant Pot. The book has recipes for kitchen staples like paneer, yogurt, spice mixes, and chutneys. There are sections on rice and dals; vegetables; fish, chicken, and meat; drinks and desserts. Pitre is famous for her Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken). 

Whole spices are the art and soul of cooking.  

I hope you’re inspired to cook Indian food. It’s easy with the convenience of a good spice grinder and an Instant Pot. 

May your winter kitchen smell wonderful! Please check out more delicious Indian recipes on the Food Co-op’s blog, including oven ghee, tomato chutney, and spiced paneer.  

Chana Masala 

Curried Chickpeas with Instant Pot and Oven

Makes 2½ quarts. 

This is my version of the classic Indian dish and is a guest favorite. It’s a delicious main dish chili, full of flavor with a sour-sweet pop. Serve it hot with naan and a side salad.    

Ingredients
Instant Pot 

2 cups raw chickpeas 

6 cups water

1 teaspoon salt 

1 dried ancho chile

1 dried pasilla chile 

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, ground into a paste 

1 teaspoon turmeric powder or 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric paste 

Oven 

2 large onions, chopped

8 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup olive oil or ghee 

Oven spice mix 

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

¼ teaspoon black peppercorns 

¼ teaspoon decorticated cardamom
or 5 whole green cardamom pods 

5 whole cloves 

1 tablespoon whole cumin seed 

1 tablespoon whole coriander seed

1 tablespoon sweet paprika 

1 teaspoon sea salt 

To finish

2 tablespoons tamarind paste 

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, or 2½ cups fresh tomatoes 

Directions 

Add unsoaked chickpeas, salt, chilies, ginger, turmeric and water to the Instant Pot. Set it to the bean cycle, or for 45 minutes at high pressure with a natural release. You may also use the stove top using the conventional method for cooking chickpeas. 

Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. As the chickpeas cook, prep the oven ingredients: Using a spice grinder, reduce the spices to a rough powder. Mix the onions, garlic, oil, or ghee and spices together on the baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes and stir. Continue to roast for another 15 minutes or until the onions are sweet. 

When the chickpeas have finished, put the cooked chilies, with tops removed, into a blender jar with the chickpea liquid, the oven ingredients and tamarind paste. Blend until smooth and stir the sauce into the chickpeas. Add the tomatoes and serve hot.

(Sidonie Maroon is culinary educator at The Food Co-op; abluedotkitchen.com. Follow Sidonie on The Food Co-op’s Facebook group, “Cooking with the Co-op.”)

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