The name of this game is simple. Curries and curried dishes are everywhere and still seem to be gaining popularity. And why not? A little spice is always nice. Good curry powder packs so much flavor, it’s the a natural addition to your staple pantry spices. This curry powder makes dinner even easier because it only uses 3 ingredients – that you most likely already have in your pantry. Plus it doesn’t compromise on flavor.
Is eating healthier your new years resolution? Detoxing after the holidays? I’m not sure anyone actually does this but if fitness club attendance is any indication, it would seem so. I always plan on eating healthier but never actually do it. Food is just too much fun. This Arugula, Pear, and Prosciutto Flatbread with Meyer Lemon Dressing is my version of eating healthy. It’s light, simple, and of course, tasty.
Indian food is one of my favorite cuisines. It’s also becoming quite trendy. In New York, Whole Foods has even included a hot bar/buffet of Indian Food in their prepared food section. There is still room for improvement in the quality of mainstream Indian food but I think my grandmother would have been as pleased as I am to see this flavorful cuisine take off. There are a few Indian style recipes in her book, “The Art of Good Cooking,” such as Curried Carrots and Peppers and Indian Beef Curry which I’ve done for this blog. Like many of her international recipes, these were unique and practically ground breaking when they were written in the 1960’s – before what some may consider the food revolution. The availability of spices like ground coriander, turmeric, cumin seeds, or garam masala have come a long way since then. I, however; didn’t begin to enjoy Indian food until my late teens when my step mother introduced healthy and flavorful north Indian style recipes such as this vegan coconut green bean and peas dish.
Have you met my trendy friend Kale yet? This popular leafy vegetable continues to be a health craze. I am admittedly late to the party: this was my first kale salad (gasp). I’ve always been apprehensive about using this high fiber vegetable, rich in vitamins and minerals. Its rough texture seems almost too healthy to hold it’s own as the main leafy part of a salad. Lets face it – no one wants to feel like they’re eating cardboard, right? But the idea of a Greek kale salad seemed much more enticing. I love Greek salad and it just so happened that a friend of mine was serving what she referred to as Greek kale salad at get together. It was brilliant. Classic chunky Greek salad vegetables and feta combined with leafy kale and a lemony vinaigrette. It was the perfect kale salad for those of us that are scared of kale salads.
Indian food is often my go to comfort food. When the warm intense spices fill the kitchen with the scents of cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds, I feel at home. I also don’t feel guilty after eating a big meal because most of what I make from this unique spicy cuisine, is healthy (unlike other comfort foods like mac and cheese and mashed potatoes that I also adore). Indian food isn’t usually considered diet friendly because Indian restaurants often use a lot of oil and cream. And the Samosa, arguably the most popular Indian dish/appetizer, is basically potatoes and vegetables fried in dough. But since the traditional spices are strong and flavorful, it’s easy to make tasty Indian dishes with very little fat – especially vegetables. This recipe for Curried Carrots and Peppers uses just a little oil, spices, lemon juice, and touch of sugar. It makes a flavorful side dish (or main dish if you are full from all of that holiday food).
Surprisingly, this recipe is from “The Art of Good Cooking.” It continues to amaze me how my grandmother managed to replicate and publish such ethnic recipes over 50 years ago, when so many side dishes still came from a can. Living in Harlem, she was surrounded by diversity and learned many of these recipes from friends or neighbors. This dish, titled “Oza’s Carrots and Peppers” in her book, is an example of that influence. An obvious question is, who’s Oza? The introduction to the recipe mentions that Oza was an Indian friend and neighbor. Not long ago, I heard from Oza’s son. He mentioned that Oza, now 92, still has fond memories of my grandmother and grandfather.
The only modifications I made to the original recipe is the amount of oil and curry powder (I believe curry powder was less potent in the 1960’s). I also prefer to make my own curry powder by using a combination of ground coriander, cumin, and turmeric (proportions below). The original recipe already had the fat, acid, and sweet components to make it the perfect party for your taste buds. As we fatten our bellies with baked goods and rich foods this holiday season, these spiced vegetables can provide a nice break for your body but still provide the comfort of the holiday season.
1/3 cup peanut oil
2 teaspoons brown or yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons curry powder (or 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 carrots, thinly sliced
3 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and Pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
In a deep saucepan, heat peanut oil until almost smoking. Add mustard seeds. Turn heat down and add cumin seeds, curry powder, and cayenne. Cook 2 minutes. Add sliced carrots and green peppers and stir into the spices. Cook until vegetables begin to change color but are still crisp. Stir in brown sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.