At the farmer's market I am frequently seduced by the beauty of vegetables that I'm not quite sure what to do with. Last time it was long beans and Chinese eggplant. This is what I did with them. This tastes exotic but is really easy to make as long as you have lemongrass and coconut cream on hand. I bought a big bundle of lemongrass and froze it; coconut cream is sold at Trader Joe's now.
1 small yellow onion
4" piece of lemongrass
1 mild fresh green chili, seeded (but you can adjust this or just take it out if you have small children)
3/4" fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves
1 cup of coconut cream
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4-5 cups of mixed vegetables or a mix of vegetables and meat
1/2 Tablespoon fish sauce
1/3-1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
If you are using meat, brown the meat first and set it aside. I've made this with ground beef and stew beef. If you use stew beef, be sure to cut it into much smaller cubes or it will be tough since it doesn't simmer for long.
To make the sauce, put the onion, lemongrass, chili, ginger, and garlic in a food processor or blender. Process them a little before adding half the coconut cream. Process it again until it's mostly ground up, and then add the rest of the coconut cream, salt, and sugar and blend it until you have a smooth paste.
Simmer the coconut sauce for 10 minutes. Add about 3/4 cup of water and then add the vegetables and meat. Simmer them until they are tender, then add the fish sauce and peanut butter. Cook it until the peanut butter is thoroughly amalgamated. Add more fish sauce if it isn't salty enough.
As a kid I had the privilege of eating in the home of one of the best home cooks on earth. Amee, which is how I spell the word for 'mom' in her language, comes from somewhere outside Karachi. She doesn't cook with measuring spoons or even a decent cutting board, but whatever she turns out of her kitchen is mouth-watering magic. I once took a bite of something and thought I would swoon. When I asked her daughter what it was and how to re-create it, the answer came with a casual shrug and the offhand, "Just summer squash with Mexican seasoning." Really?
I have one of her recipes, but it takes five hours from start to finish and I promised I'd never share it- so instead I bring you a chicken dish that Amee would approve of if I were brave enough to cook for her. It came from a collection of recipes in the April 2013 issue of Saveur magazine, and soon after I added the cream to the sauce I knew this was going to be amazing. It was.
There was a lot of sauce to the amount of chicken called for in the recipe, so I froze the leftover sauce and used it later to simmer browned meat in. It was a nice way to get two meals out of one. Next time I make it I will double everything but the meat and the cilantro so I can freeze a few portions of the sauce to simmer meat or vegetables in another day. If you add in vegetables with the meat you would only need rice to complete the meal.
The only ingredient I had never used before was dried fenugreek leaves. You can find fenugreek in any Indian grocery store or Halal market under the name kasoori methi. Your body will smell faintly like maple syrup for a few days after you eat it. There are definitely worse things.
6 cloves of peeled garlic
1 serrano chile (optional, I leave it out for my children)
1-2" chunk of peeled ginger
2-3 pounds of skinless chicken or any other meat
1/4 cup of ghee or a blend of butter and oil
1 white or yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon of dried fenugreek leaves
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1-2 cups of blended tomatoes
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup of heavy cream
finely chopped cilantro to garnish
Puree together the garlic, chile, and ginger with a scant 1/4 cup of water and set the blend aside. Season the meat with salt and pepper and brown it in the ghee in a big pan. When the meat is browned, set it aside on a plate. Now add the garlic puree to the pan and cook it until it turns golden. Add the onions and continue to cook until they are golden. Now add the dry spices (fenugreek through turmeric). Give it a good stir and then add the tomatoes. Cook it until the tomatoes are slightly caramelized, about another 5 minutes. Now add the meat back in along with the milk and cream. Bring it to a boil and then simmer it covered over medium heat until the meat is tender. You can take the meat out and continue to simmer the sauce to reduce it a little. Stir in some cilantro and pour the sauce over the chicken. I served this with steamed basmati rice.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!