Friday, February 15, 2008

In cucina con i food bloggers

I know I haven't posted in a while - longer than usual! I've been really busy in this past couple of weeks. So now the list of posts I want to add is really long..
I decided I'd start with my recent passion: cooking using recipes that I read on fellow food bloggers. This allows me to learn a lot of interesting dishes, in particular from Indian cuisine, which I already mentioned I want to start getting acquainted with.
So here are a few more experiments in Indian (and not) cuisine inspired by food blogs!

Curry di ceci / Chickpea curry
Bee and Jai from 'Jugalbandi' published here the recipe I used to prepare this delicious dish. I was so excited! For once, I had all the spices the recipe asked for! I couldn't find black chickpeas, though, so I had to use the regular white ones. Nevertheless, this curry was absolutely delicious. I am in love with chickpeas, and this is really a must try if someone likes them too. I found myself more comfortable preparing this than my previous Indian experiments. I think I'm starting to learn how to play with spices a little bit! Thanks Jai and Bee!

Tajine di ceci e zucca con cuscus al cocco e chutney al cocco / Chickpea Pumpkin Tajine With Coconut Couscous & Coconut Chutney
Still on the chickpea crave wave, I cooked this amazing dish that Meeta at 'What's for lunch, Honey?' describes here. I decided to try this recipe one night, as I found out I would be able to use interesting ingredients that I had bought thinking about future use, and still didn't get a chance to try, such as coconut milk and fresh ginger. At the same time, this recipe allowed me to finish up some of the leftover turban squash (which I substituted pumpkin with) and coriander I had, which were going to go bad otherwise.. Last but not least, it looked quick and it was perfect for a night when I arrived late at home. Indeed, the dish was fast to prepare, even though it's composed of three separate parts (Lucas and I were pretty happy about this nice variety). All of them are wonderful. I think my tajine was a little more curry-like than it should have been, because my leftover squash was precooked, and quite soft. Still, it was delicious. I particularly loved mixing the cous cous with the chutney.. Next time, though, I'll try to use dry chickpeas. I find they have a really better taste than the canned ones. Thanks Meeta for such a wonderful recipe!

Curry di melanzane e patate dolci / Eggplant And Sweet Potatoes Curry
This is another recipe that I spotted while I was preparing the last roundup for the Fresh Produce of the Month. It's by Suganya at Tasty Palettes, and you can find the original recipe (which involves squash, indeed) here. I prepared it on another night when I didn't have a lot of time to cook. It was a good choice! For a change, though, I decided to use sweet potatoes instead of squash. To be honest, I did have squash at home, but I was too lazy: peeling and cutting a squash is a hard task for me some times, and the sweet potatoes looked like a promising substitute! Indeed, they were. I used two potatoes instead of the amount of squash suggested by Suganya. We enjoyed this dish a lot - I served it with rice, as I didn't have any flat bread. It didn't have as many spices as the other Indian dishes I prepared (I may have put less of the final mixture of ground spices), so the taste actually reminded me of some Italian side dish, but with an exotic touch given by the spicy taste in the background. Thanks, Suganya, and I'm going to try this again with squash and paying closer attention to how much of the final spice mixture I add :)

Now here is a question to all the food bloggers around: what exactly defines a curry? In my ignorance, I thought a curry was supposed to be on the liquid side. More like a Thai green curry, to give an example. Yet, a lot of the curries I found recipes for (like the two I wrote about in this post) are much thicker. So, this is my general question. More in details, I recently went to a Chaat place named Vik's, in Berkeley, well-known for its authentic (and inexpensive) fast-food-like Indian dishes. Almost everything we tried was served with 'cholle', defined as 'chickpea curry'. Still, the cholle at Vik's was really nothing like the Chickpea curry that I prepared myself according to Bee's recipe. It was much more liquid (and also somewhat sweet, I recall). So, what's the difference in the two curries? Is it just a regional or personal preference?

Thanks to anybody who wants to comment on this :)


Meeta K. Wolff said...

Marta, glad you liked the combination of this dish. It's not your basic stuff but I love the lovely combination of flavors. As for the word curry - I describe it in more detail in this post.
Hope you have a great weekend!

bee said...

Glad you liked the dish. the rate at which you are going you'll be an expert in no time! but be forewarned, the reaction is exothermic and irreversible.

regarding curry, bee had a written a very funny post a while ago - you might find that rather illuminating as much as it was for us...much like italian restaurants in the US.


bee said... managed to go to Vik's. LUCKY YOU! the aloo tikki there is fabulous. the somewhat sweet taste is from tamarind-date chutney. you can find a recipe on our blog -

the chhole in Vik's is from North India..."Punjabi style" with white chickpeas with onion and tomato base, while our recipe that you used is from the southwestern side (kerala) of India where it is more common to use black chickpeas and the base is made from coconut.


bee said...

oops that link should have been

ok, ok, i'll leave before you kick me out!


Amit said...

Hi Marta,
The black chickpeas are also made in the north - I grew up eating them as frequently as the regular white chickpeas. The only place where I've found black chickpeas in the US is Indian grocery stores.

chemcookit said...

Dear Meeta & Jai, thanks a lot for your suggestions! I really changed my opinion on curries after reading all your posts.

Amit - thanks for the suggestion! I'm going to look for them in my next trip :)