Nom nom nom

When I was in junior high, in some sort of strange effort to engage in what I had convinced myself was  some sort of rite of passage, I enrolled in Home Economics.

You’ll be happy to note that I aced the babysitting module and, inexplicably, ironing.  This prevented me from outright failing  the course because when it came to cooking and sewing, I quickly found I did not give two shits about either.  I overcame my aversion to sewing when I found work in a pants-manufacturer after dropping out of college, but my cooking experience was pretty much limited to boiling water, nuking frozen food, and the three times I engaged in the preparation of vegetable soup from scratch between the years 1996 and 2000.

Over the past year, in conjunction with treatment for depression/anxiety, I have been slowly overcoming my fear of cooking.  I’m not an over-enthusiastic cook, nor do I prepare anything very complicated.  But I am quite proud of my newfound ability to prepare a complete dinner without a recipe, and yesterday I was bitten by the same bug that used to compel the veggie soup.

I have been meaning to make a garam masala for over a year and I’ll never know why I finally decided that yesterday was the day but I came home from dropping Lucy off at school, washed out my mortar and pestle, and got to work.

Jen’s Garam Masala

  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn
  • 2 T coriander seed
  • 1/2 T cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 T ground cardamom
  • 2 T turmeric
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 chile de arbol, de-seeded

roasted on low (minus turmeric, chili, cardamom), stirring constantly.   Let cool slightly, then mixed in turmeric and cardamom.  Lots and lots of mortar-and-pestling before I realized that I couldn’t hand grind the cinnamon.  Quick trip through the coffee grinder, and then into airtight plastic container.  I didn’t think of the chile until later so it was torn up rather than ground.  I think next time I will do half the cinnamon and two chiles.  And definitely will get cardamom pods instead of using ground cardamom.

I actually made the garam masala without having a clear idea what I would do with it but since we had tomatoes and lentils, a dhal made the most sense.  I spent about an hour looking at recipes online before deciding to use this one as a basis.  Obviously I used my garam masala instead of her spices, and I didn’t have all of her ingredients so this is what I used:

  • 1 cup yellow lentils
  • 1 small white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Jen’s garam masala (about 1/3 of what I made above)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
  • 4 chopped tomatoes
  • 6 baby carrots, grated

I covered the lentils with 2 inches of water and cooked them for not long enough–probably 20 minutes (next time I will give them the full 45).  While those were cooking I sauteed the onions for 5 minutes in olive oil then threw in the garlic and masala for another 5.  I added the 4 cups of water and stirred, then the drained lentils and tomato paste, simmering for 20 minutes.  While it was simmering, I grated in the baby carrots which thickened it.  After simmering for 20, I added the tomatoes and cooked until the lentils were tender.

Then, because I am a freak and cannot stand the texture of tomatoes, I poured the whole mix into the foley food mill and pureed it.  I served it over Jasmine rice and if I had thought ahead I would have garnished with some cilantro for the husband and parsley for me (I hate cilantro.)   Next time I will also add more garlic, probably 6 cloves instead of 3, because the spice needed rounding out.

I have been really bad about making meatless meals–as a novice cook it is much easier to do a one-pot meal with meat than without.  I’m hoping to do more experimenting with beans now that I have successfully done one dish.  Tonight I’m back to stir-fry though 🙂

 

 

 

 

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One Response to Nom nom nom

  1. Gina says:

    I make my own garam masala too. I will try your lentil recipe. Thanks.

    I am also an utter freak about the texture of tomatoes and don’t even get me started about tomato seeds – I can only eat tomatoes raw if I have removed all the seeds and the “snot” surrounding them. I actually spend a couple of days in the late summer/early fall skinning, seeding, and then food milling about half of my tomato crop to can as plain smooth tomato sauce. It is a ton of work but pays off all year long when then have perfectly smooth tomatoes whenever I need them.

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