Indian flare nights are always exciting at the homestead. Rich spices & flavors, fresh vegetables, and wholesome grains. I also love meals where there are plenty of condiments to choose from. Chutneys are a delicious accompaniment to Indian dishes. Traditionally they contain fruit, vinegar, sugar, and spices, and can range from mild to hot, chunky or smooth. So tonight we made a HUGE meal, with the hopes of leftovers carrying us through the following day.
If you live in San Diego, I have recently been introduced to our “Little India.” And might I add, I can’t believe its taken me this long to get there!
Over in Clairemont, by Black Mountain road, you can find all sorts of cheap, Indian grocery stores, restaurants, and other fun things such as fashion outlets for saroongs! I was blown away with the minimal prices, as well as the authentic selection of food. For a couple staple items, I grabbed a big sack of basmati rice, a bag of imported chick pea flour, incense, bulk turmeric, cold lychee drinks, and some culinary tips from the store-run family!
Saag Paneer tends to be a favorite amongst us veg-heads. I believe its a result of all the minerals we intake when we eat large doses of spinach. But whats a girl to do when most of her favorite Indian restaurants are consumed with using ghee, and paneer?
Get to work in the kitchen thats what!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Paneer, it is a homemade cheese, made by curdled milk and lemon or lime juice. It is quite similar to tofu, so its easy to substitute. Ghee is actually a very healthy way of eating butter, but of course, I ALWAYS use my favorite, earth balance butter. I couldn’t give away my favorite saag recipe, but here is my pakora recipe. This is awesome for those of you trying to stay away from wheat and gluten. It is also *super* fun and simple to make! If you have a mortar and pestle, I suggest using that to grind your seeds and mix your other spices. If not, a coffee grinder will grind them just fine!
Assorted Veggies, broccoli & cauliflower florets are a hit! If your going to be using thicker vegetables, such as yams, or carrots, try steaming them first to soften up.
1 1/2 cups chick-pea flour (besan flour)
1 cup filtered water
2 tea. turmeric
1 1/2 tea. cumin seeds
1 tea. mustard seeds
1 tea. garam masala
1/2 tea. sea salt
1/2 tea. hing
1/2 tea. cayenne
***Start by mixing the flour and water in a bowl to make a stiff dough, then adding a little more while beating with wire whisk, to make a thick batter. Let sit for 30 min.
Meanwhile, grind and mix your seeds & spices.
After 30 minutes, mix spices in, batter should still be thick.
If you have one of those cute little home use deep fryers, they will turn out perfect, but those of us who don’t…..
Heat a pan with a fair amount of oil. (I use sunflower oil)
Submerge a vegetable floret into the batter, then quickly & gently drop into heated oil.
If entire floret is not covered, batter may slightly fall, so just be quick on turning them. When all sides are slightly browned, remove and drain on paper towel. Serve at once, accompanied by a sweet mango chutney.