Sunday, May 24, 2009

Green Beans with Ginger and Mushrooms Recipe

This is a bold and succulent way to eat green beans; highly spiced and strongly flavored, it is not your meek vegetable side dish. Serve it on rice with a little yogurt on top, or as a side with a meat or grain dish. I loved it with the Chicken and Tomato Curry and the Fresh Coriander, Ginger, and Chile Crêpes that I also made this week.

The mushrooms soak up all the flavor of the ground spices, and since the ginger is sliced in slivers, and not minced, it's possible to really sense the texture of this root here. A powerful anti-inflammatory, and known to work nearly as well as conventional drugs for arthritis pain, I am convinced that when I load up on ginger, my chronic knee pain lessens. Delicious and healthy, I think I'll keep this recipe in frequent rotation, and who knows? Perhaps with a little more ginger, I'll be able to reverse the damage I've done to my body from all that dancing. And if not, at least I'll be a happy girl. A happy, green bean eating girl.

Green Beans with Mushrooms (Sem Aur Khumbi)
from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian

6 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 medium onion, cut in half lengthwise and then crosswise into very thin slices
5 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
1 (1 1/2-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into very fine rounds, then stacked and cut into very fine slivers
10 ounces white mushrooms, cut into thick slices lengthwise
1 1/2 pounds green beans, cut into 1-inch segments
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Put the oil in a large wok, frying pan, or saute pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for 10 seconds and then put in the sliced onion. stir and fry until medium brown. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a few seconds, or until the garlic turns golden. Put in the mushrooms. Stir and fry until the mushrooms lose their raw look and turn shiny. Add the beans, coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, garam masala, cayenne, and salt. Stir to mix. Add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and cook gently for 15 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Stir once about halfway through this period. Uncover and boil away most of the liquid, turning the beans gently as you do so. (The beans may be easily reheated.)

Similar recipes on A Hungry Bear Won't Dance: Spring Fava Beans with Dill and Garlic Yogurt Recipe, Gingered Tofu and Seaweed Salad with Shiitake Mushrooms and Sesame Seeds Recipe

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Fresh Coriander, Ginger, and Chile Crêpes Recipe (Rava Dosa)

Making these dosas always reminds me of living in the East Village, in a wonderful high-rise with a view of the Chrysler Building, and a great, open kitchen. The building was the one-time headquarters of the Black Panthers, and then home to Iggy Pop, who I would sometimes sit near on a bench in Tompkins Square Park, or pass in the lobby saying hi, pretending to know him.

I remember lazy days with Lisa at Life Cafe, drinks at Mona's, creating my first email account, taking the bus to work. I remember trying to make soap in that kitchen with my friend Jared and nearly burning the skin off our hands, and I remember my ex-boyfriend, Tim, cordoning off the bathroom area with duct tape barriers and a large Do Not Enter sign when he was startled by a water bug in there, the flying kind, the enormous kind. I was away a lot then, on tour, but when I was home we would cook, taking advantage of the many Indian markets near our house. We used these spices frequently, their scent hanging on our clothes in the heavy humidity of summer, pungent enough for one friend to rename Tim Marrakesh. South Indian, not Moroccan, these dosas are rich with memories of my first serious experiments in the kitchen.

Fresh Coriander, Ginger, and Chile Crêpes (Rava Dosa)
from Flatbreads and Flavors, a Baker's Atlas, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

I make the full recipe, but only cook what I want at each meal, keeping the rest of the batter in a covered container in the refrigerator, and this time, I used a smaller omelet pan to make the crêpes, and they turned out fine. They might even be easier to flip if you make the smaller version.

2 cups semolina flour (this time I used chickpea flour, for a richer tasting dosa)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 red chile pepper or jalapeno, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh or dried curry leaves; if using dried, soak in water for 10 minutes before using
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm water

You will need a medium-sized bowl, a large cast-iron or other heavy griddle, a flat wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, and a metal spatula.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the semolina flour, yogurt, chile, ginger, curry leaves, coriander leaves, and salt. Stir in the water a little bit at a time until you have a smooth batter. Cover the bowl and let the batter rest for approximately 1 hour.

Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy griddle over medium-high heat. Using a paper towl, lightly oil the surface of the griddle, and reserve the towel for use between each dosa. When the griddle is hot, pour on 1/2 cup of the batter. As you pour, move in a circle out from the middle, distributing the batter in as large a circle as possible; then use the back of a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to spread the batter to cover the gaps, again increasing the diameter of the dosa, to at least 9 or 10 inches. (Don't worry about making it too thin; the thinner the better.) Cook the dosa for 1 1/2 minutes; after cooking for 1 minute, begin to loosen it from the griddle with a metal spatula. Coax the dosa, don't force it, as it will come off easily when it is golden brown and ready. Flip to the other side and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, or until lightly browned in spots. Remove to a plate.

Rub the surface of the griddle with the oiled paper towel or, if it's particularly dry, add a little more oil. Continue cooking until all the dosas have been made. They can be stacked one on top of the other as they are cooked, or served immediately as they are made.

Makes 8 thin crêpe-like breads, about 9 to 10 inches in diameter.

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Chicken and Tomato Curry Recipe

I had been craving Indian food, so last week I pulled out Flatbreads and Flavors, a cookbook with a favorite Indian dosa recipe, and Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian Cookbook for a savory vegetable side. I wanted to make some type of curry to spoon up in the dosas, so I picked a shrimp curry with coconut milk, that I would modify with chicken, and having forgotten the coconut milk on my trip to the coop, ended up modifying totally.

I used organic chicken thighs in this braise, an inexpensive way to eat organic meat, and virtually impossible to mess up; the longer you cook the chicken, the more tender it gets. Use many thighs, and you have enough for several meals; heat up the portion you will consume, and keep the rest in the refrigerator.

Chicken and Tomato Curry

(adapted liberally from Flatbreads and Flavors, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid)

1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil (I use canola oil)
2 pounds chicken thighs (about 8 thighs)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
20 fresh curry leaves (optional)
1 28 ounce can and 1 14.5 ounce can of diced or crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon store-bought garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Rinse and thoroughly dry the chicken thighs, and season them liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil, and heat until very hot, but not smoking. Add a few chicken thighs to the pan, being careful not to crowd them. Sear them on one side until golden brown. If the chicken won't turn, let it cook on that side a little longer. When it has seared, the skin will easily release from the pan with a gently touch. Sear on the other side. Remove the thighs to a plate, and continue searing the rest of them.

Discard the chicken fat from the pan, and add a little fresh canola oil. Heat the oil, and saute the onions until soft, scraping up the chicken bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic, the ginger, the jalapeno, and the curry leaves, and stir quickly. Do not let the garlic burn. Add the garam masala, and mix well. Add the tomatoes, increase the heat, and let the mixture cook a bit, until the tomatoes soften. Bury the chicken thighs into the tomato sauce, lower the heat, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, and the meat releases easily from the bone. Stir in the salt and the chopped cilantro.

If you like, skim off the excess fat from the top before serving with Fresh Coriander, Ginger, and Chile Crepes (Rava Dosa), or rice.

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