Thursday, October 30, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Harissa spiced Chickpeas and Wild Rice, Whole Wheat Soup - Yottam Ottolenghi Inspired...

Harissa, the North African chili paste that is popular in Tunisia, Libya and Algeria is one of my favorite spice pastes. I am not sure about the authenticity of the harissa that I got hooked on to first. It was the Cava brand Harissa paste from Cava Mezze Foods which is an extension of their Cava Mezze restaurant in DC. I first bought them in Whole Foods after being mesmerized by its bright red color. It did not disappoint. Perfect as a spread for bagels, toasts and as a spice and flavoring agent for noodles, pastas and soups.

I do not visit Whole Foods much anymore so I eagerly grabbed a jar when I saw it in Wegmans, but unlike Cava this paste was way too salty to be used as a spread but was perfect for cooking.

I saw this recipe for Spicy Chickpea and Bulgar Soup and once I read through the recipe and found that the main flavoring came for Harissa, there was no way I was not going to try it. Also flavoring soups with Harissa is right up my alley like I did with this butternut squash soup. Looks like Yotam Ottolenghi was thinking of a soup along the same lines ....

I did not have barley but I had some Wild Rice and Whole Wheat to be used up and they were perfect in this soup. I am sure any whole grain or even brown/red rice will go well in this soup. Do not add grain that tend to go mushy when cooked though. I did not add carrot and celery in the soup because both of those remind of the tasteless ubiquitous chicken noodle soup.

The recipe itself very simple and mostly ingredients that are readily available in the pantry. Not having Harissa should not be a reason not to try this soup. Use any chili paste/sauce that you like. It is not Harissa but it will still be good.

As the temperature continues to drop and the days grow shorter soups like these have the ability to warm you up completely. I do not like cheese in my soup but if you do you can make the feta cheese paste suggested in the recipe to add to the soup.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven and when hot add the onions and garlic and saute till the onions are translucent. Add the harissa paste, saute for a couple of minutes followed by the cumin and coriander powder and saute for a minute more.
Cook the chickpeas in a pressure cooker and the wild rice and while wheat in a rice cooker or stove top till they are fully cooked.
Add the chopped tomatoes and let it cook till it gets mushy, about 5 minutes . Add the chopped coriander leaves and saute for a couple of minutes. Add in the cooked chick peas and mix it in.
Add 3 cups of water and let it come to a boil and continue to cook for about 10-12 minutes. When the soup starts to thicken a bit, add in the cooked wild rice and whole wheat and let cook for another 5 minutes in a gently simmer.




Harissa Spiced Chickpeas and Wild Rice, Whole Wheat Soup
Preparation Time:15 minutes + overnight soaking
Cooking Time:30 minutes
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups chickpeas soaked overnight
  2. 1/2 cup wild rice
  3. 1/2 whole wheat washed and soaked for about 1/2 hour
  4. 1/4 cup of finely chopped onions or shallots
  5. About 8-10 small small tomatoes chopped into fours
  6. 4 garlic cloves chopped or crushed
  7. handful of chopped coriander leaves
  8. 1 1/2 tbsp Harissa paste
  9. 1 tsp cumin powder
  10. 2-3 tsp coriander powder
  11. 1 tsp pepper powder
  12. salt to taste
  13. 2 tsp of olive oil

Method
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and when hot add the onions and garlic and saute till the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the harissa paste, saute for a couple of minutes followed by the cumin and coriander powder and saute for a minute more.
  3. Cook the chickpeas in a pressure cooker and the wild rice and while wheat in a rice cooker or stove top till they are fully cooked. Drain the chickpeas and set aside.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and let it cook till it gets mushy, about 5 minutes . Add the chopped coriander leaves and saute for a couple of minutes. Add in the cooked chick peas and mix it in.
  5. Add 3 cups of water and let it come to a boil and continue to cook for about 10-12 minutes. The soup will start to thicken at this time, add in the cooked rice and whole wheat and it gently simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Turn off the heat.
  6. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped jalapeno peppers.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Long Beans - Karamani Curry - Dum Aloo style

While green beans are readily available here all through the year long beans are not all that common. I see them in stores occasionally but getting fresh beans is almost impossible unless you actually grow them. Long beans do not last long even when refrigerated, they get slimy on the outside.



Long beans have a taste that is suitable for spicy and creamy curries. I planted long beans this summer in the farm we were pleasantly surprised. The plant is drought tolerant and the beans are edible at every stage of growth. When tender the beans can be cooked, as they mature and the pods start to grow they can be used. Once the beans are fully mature they are dried and can be used for later like all dried beans.
Prepare the ingredients for the masala.
In a pan heat oil and saute the ingredients for the masala, first onions till they are translucent and starting to turn brown, followed by the ginger, garlic and red chilies. Saute the tomatoes till they are mushy. Add the coriander powder and saute for half a minute. Blend the above to a smooth paste.
Blend the coconut and almonds with 2 tbsp of water to a smooth paste. For the curry, in a wide mouthed pan heat oil and add the seasonings followed by the onions and saute till translucent.
Add the chopped long beans and turmeric powder. Add the blended onion-tomato-coriander powder mixture and mix it in to the beans.
Add about 1 cup of water and let it cook for about 5-10 minutes more till the beans are fully cooked. Add coconut paste and mix it into the curry.
Add salt and cook till the curry reaches the required consistency.


My most favorite way of cooking these beans is when the are tender. After making stir fries and sambhar with them for a few times I wanted to try something different like this curry. The masala and spices used are similar to those of dum aloo. The beans are not sweet like green beans and it lends itself nicely in this masala curry.



Long Beans - Karamani Curry - Dum Aloo Style
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
Ingredients
  1. 2 -3 cup of chopped long beans (about 1 inch)
  2. 2 tbsp of chopped onions
  3. seasonings- curry leaves and cumin seeds
  4. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  5. salt to taste
  6. 2 tsp of oil
  7. For the masala paste
  8. 1/2 cup of finely chopped red onions
  9. 2 ripe tomatoes about 1/2 cup chopped
  10. 5 garlic cloves
  11. 2 inch piece of ginger
  12. 4-5 red chilies
  13. 3 tbsp of fresh or frozen grated coconut
  14. 3-4 almonds
  15. 2 tbsp coriander powder
  16. 2 tsp of Kashmiri red chili powder (for the color - optional)
  17. In a pan heat the oil, saute the onions first till they are starting to turn slightly brown, followed by the ginger, garlic and red chilies. Saute the tomatoes till they are mushy. Add the coriander powder and saute for half a minute. Blend the above to a smooth paste with couple of tbs of water. Set aside.
  18. Blend the coconut and almonds to a paste with the addition of 2 tbsp of water.

Method
  1. In a wide mouthed pan heat oil and add the curry leaves and cumin seeds. Add the onions and saute till translucent.
  2. Add in the chopped long beans and turmeric powder. Cook in low heat for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the blended onion-tomato-coriander powder mixture and mix it in to the beans. Add about 1 cup of water and let it cook for about 5-10 minutes more till the beans are fully cooked.
  4. Add in the coconut paste and salt, mix it well and continue to cook till the curry reaches the consistency required.


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