First order of business eff this weather.  It’s mid-April.  I should be revving up to get my leg tan on and telling myself to exercise vigorously so that I don’t feel like the Pillsbury Doughboy at the beach this year (I tell myself this annually to no avail, but it’s the thought that counts).  Instead, it’s cold, windy and rainy.  I went for a walk around the neighborhood with my boyfriend today and when we came back to the house my hands were actually numb.  NUMB.  I should have moved to Portland, OR like I had originally intended post-college.  At least it’s temperate there.  And there are sparkling vampires.  And it’s where young people go to retire.  Poor life decision on my part.

Weather woes aside, I splurged on a few cookbooks last month which I don’t normally do.  But you see, Borders closed many of its Chicago-area stores recently and you know what that means: SALESSS!  By the time I got to the store near my house, most of its selection had been reduced to garbage but luckily the cooking section was one of the heartier areas left.  Just goes to show you that a) no one cooks anymore, b) the ones who do get their recipes from blogs, and c) people prefer to spend their money on say Taboo’s memoir (from the Black Eyed Peas.  Seriously).  I was very pleased with my finds despite their total cost, and in among the pile was India Cookbook by Pushpesh Pant, a whopping 960 pages of Indian recipes.  The book had me sold at “India” but combined with colorful pages, a beautiful layout, AND a free canvas bag??  SOLD.  I doubt I’ll get through even a quarter of this book- that’s excluding the disappointingly large section on seafood- but my first few dishes turned out so successfully that I’ll very well try.  The two I’m sharing with you today were definitely easy to make, particularly the cabbage, and well worth the effort.  I pretty much followed the recipes as written in the book, but I left a few ingredients out because I didn’t have them on hand.  You’ll just have to buy the book to see what they are.  Yumma away!

I like to add a hard-boiled egg to my dishes whenever possible.  By the way, did anyone else hear that now studies are showing the cholesterol in eggs “fights” bad cholesterol?  Don’t quote me on this; it was just a bit of hearsay I picked up at work.  As a victim of egg-binging, naturally my reaction to that bit of information was DUH.  My cholesterol levels are perfect and there are weeks where I have 1 or 2 eggs daily.  Haven’t those researchers seen “Beauty and the Beast” where Gaston brags about eating five dozen eggs in the morning?  He clearly didn’t suffer from high cholesterol or hypertension.  Let’s focus our grant money on other things, shall we?

Paneer Makhani

Ingredients:

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

3 1/2 tbsp butter

500g/ 1.5 lb Paneer, cut into cubes (recipe here)

4 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp chilli powder

3 green cadamom pods, crushed

1 tsp garam masala

2 tbsp ginger paste (recipe below)

2 tbsp garlic paste (recipe below)

2 tbsp crushed ginger

1 bay leaf

4 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks, about 1 inch long

1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves, crushed (optional)

1 tsp sugar

1/2 c light cream

salt

4 tbsp cilantro leaves, to garnish

Equipment:

A pot

A skillet

A blender

How to Make:

Blanche tomatoes in a large heatproof bowl of boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then plunge them into cold water.  Remove the skin and chop roughly.  Prepare the ginger and garlic pastes.

Ginger PasteCombine  one 5 1/2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped, with 3 tbsp water.  Blend until it makes a paste.  This will yield more ginger paste than you need so you can freeze the leftovers or scale down to your desired amount.

Garlic Paste- Combine 5 heads of garlic, roughly chopped, with 3 tbsp water.  Blend until it makes a fine paste.  Either freeze what do you don’t use or scale down amount.

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add paneer and fry for about 8-10 minutes, or until evenly golden brown all over.  Remove paneer with a slotted spoon and soak in a bowl of water to keep from drying out.

Heat the oil in a pot, and add the tomatoes, stirring for about 2 minutes.  Add the chilli powder, cardamom pods, garam masala, ginger paste, and garlic paste.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the oil starts to separate out.  Add the crushed ginger, bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, and about 1 cup of hot water.  Bring to a boil and cook over high heat for 5-7 minutes.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 more minutes, or until the sauce thickens.  Add the sugar and cream, stir, and remove from heat.  Add the paneer, and season with salt and cilantro.

Dry Cabbage in Masala

Just had to add this beer shot.  Did anyone else not know there was a lady on the Miller High Life can?  Apparently I never noticed.

Ingredients:

1/2 c vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 1″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and crushed

2 green chillies, de-seeded and chopped (I used one jalapeno)

1 tsp ground ginger

1 medium cabbage, cut into large pieces

1 tsp chilli powder, or to taste

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

salt

Equipment:

A “heavy-based” pan/skillet

How to Make:

Heat the oil in skillet over high heat, then reduce heat and add cumin seeds.  Cook for about 1 minute or until the seeds start to splutter.  Add ginger, chillies and ground ginger and stir-fry briskly for 15 seconds, then add the cabbage and season with salt.  Add chilli powder, sugar, ground turmeric, and ground coriander.  Stir-fry for about 10 minutes, or until all the moisture has evaporated.

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