Sunday, February 9, 2014

Indian Cabbage and Peas

Mmmmmmm! I’ve found a new Indian recipe that I really like, and I think you’ll like it too. It’s incredibly easy to make with fairly standard American ingredients (there’s one substitution you’ll probably have to make, but it’s an easy one).

I’m not going to write it all out for you, because I want to encourage you to go to the source: Manjula’s Kitchen. Manjula Jain is a wonderful lady from northern India who moved to the United States in the 1960s. On her website, she graciously offers a ton of delicious and healthy recipes, with an easy-to-follow, how-to video for each one.

These videos are filmed, literally, in Manjula’s kitchen. I’m pretty sure it’s her husband or son behind the camera. She’s been making these videos since at least 2007. Her recipes include many traditional favorites as well as creative “fusion” dishes. For instance, she has some really good sandwich ideas.

Additionally, she’s just published a collection of her recipes as an e-book, available on Pretty nifty, huh?

Her recipes are all completely vegetarian. Also—and this is notable—she doesn’t cook with onions or garlic. Many Indian dishes begin with “chop up an onion . . .” Manjula doesn’t like the way onions and garlic can overwhelm the more subtle flavors of the food. As a culinary alternative—to add the kind of smooth, full flavor cooked onions would add—she uses hing, or asafoetida, pretty often.

Hing is an interesting ingredient. It’s a dried, ground plant resin (sap) that smells awfully bad, and strong, before you cook it. However, it usually goes into the pan right away, as soon as you have heated your oil. And when the hing cooks, its flavor changes dramatically—into something good. And you only need a pinch of the stuff for an entire dish.

So, take your choice: You could chop up an onion, wipe your eyes, and then sauté the onion in oil for a few minutes, or you could just heat your oil and fry 1/8 teaspoon of hing for about 3 seconds. I can totally see the logic in using hing!

I tell you about hing, because it is the one substitution you may need to make with this recipe. If you don’t have any hing around the house (believe me, you’d know it if you have it!)—and you don’t have access to it (it’s available at Indian and international grocery stores), then just substitute a small or medium-sized chopped onion.

So—getting around to the dish!—this is Manjula’s recipe for cabbage and peas, or bund gobi aur mater. This recipe is vegetarian, low-fat, incredibly tasty, and it looks great! It’s all beautiful shades of green!

Tonight we had it as a vegetable dish alongside some rice and some dal (Indian-style lentils).

Here’s the YouTube video for it! It’s one of her older recipes, done when she was a little less comfortable before the camera, and the video edits were a little rough. But even in her earliest videos, the content is clear and well presented.

I hope you’ll check out her website—I love watching her cooking videos, and I think you’ll like them, too. Every recipe I’ve made of hers has turned out beautifully. Her instructions are clear, her foods are delicious and healthy, and, well . . . she just seems so nice.

Thank you Manjula, for so graciously sharing your recipes!

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