Mixed Veggie Korma

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We just came back from a week of pure gluttony.  OMG.  We went to Guerneville (aka, Wine Country) last week for a little R&R.  It was the perfect vacation which involved lots of wine wine tasting, kayaking, shopping, and eating.  We really outdid ourselves on this vacation with the amounts of food that we consumed.  We ate like we were eating for eight people.  It was ridiculous… ridiculously good!  Our diets just went straight out the window as we drove to our destination.  In fact, it was as if our diet never existed.

When we settled back into reality, we decided to weigh ourselves to see the damage that was done.  It wasn’t pretty.  We were mortified by the numbers.  We were hoping it was just water weight, but to our dismay, we really did put on the lbs.  Eek!  So our goal for the next two weeks is to detox and lose the weight to get back on track with our weight loss plan with vegan/vegetarian foods.

So to kick off our goal, I decided to make a healthy, low-fat Indian fare.

Mixed Veggie Korma

3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1 1/2-inch-wide florets
2 cups fresh sugar snap peas, cut in halves
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon tumeric
2 small roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons plain soy yogurt
1 cup roasted cashews
1/2 cup golden raisins

Heat water in a large stockpot over high heat. Once water starts to boil, place carrots, sugar snap peas, and cauliflower into the pot and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Mash the ginger, garlic, and 3 tablespoons water with a mortar and pestle until it is relatively smooth and incorporated.

Heat vegetable oil in a wide saute pan over high heat. When the oil starts to smoke, saute the raisins and cashews for one minute, then add the onion and cumin seeds. Saute the onions and cumin seeds for about 3 minutes or until the onion starts to brown.  Pour in the garlic/ginger paste, garam masala, tumeric, ground coriander, and ground cumin, and saute for another minute. Put in the chopped tomatoes plus tomato sauce and cook for about two minutes.

Add the cayenne, coconut milk, and salt. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and cook until the sauce thickens. Stir occasionally. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Add the vegetables and soy yogurt, and simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened.

Serve with basmati rice and naan.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Saag paneer (aka, palak paneer), and my latest epiphany.

I realized something about myself while cooking Indian food. Music and me don’t mesh well together. The kitchen is where I’m in my zen space. Not my bedroom. Not the shower. Not even the couch. [You'd think it's the couch from all the posts about sitting on my couch watching endless hours of trashy reality TV shows!] It’s the kitchen. I think most of you foodies can relate.

So why was the music even on? My partner was helping me cook and she wanted some music. I didn’t oppose. I thought I’d be nice to have a little background music. She put on some Feist, which I love on any other given day. But not that day. It sounded like someone running their fingernails down a chalkboard. That’s what it felt like. I had a hard time concentrating on what I was doing. I couldn’t think to myself. Every thought was drowned out by the screeching voice of Feist. Ugh. I started to get irritated. I wasn’t enjoying the process anymore. I was also being really short with my partner (which I felt horrible for). I just had it. I walked over to her laptop, and turned off the music. Finally. There was some peace and quiet.

The only sounds in the kitchen was the sizzling of the paneer browning in the skillet and the chopping of the tomatoes. It was music to my ears (no pun intended). Ahh, I was finally back to my tranquil place, as I thought to myself.

How do you like to cook? With music? With the TV on? Or none of the above?

Saag Paneer (aka, Palak Paneer)

6 cups of fresh spinach, rinsed and drained
1/3 pound paneer, cubed
1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, seeded, and pureed
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 green chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
Salt, to taste

Boil spinach in a big pot of water until cooked. Place spinach into a food process or blender, and blend until pureed with smooth consistency.

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil and saute cubed paneer until they become golden and browned on all sides. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the ginger, garlic, chile peppers, coriander powder, and turmeric powder together to make a paste.

Using the same nonstick skillet, heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil. When oil is hot, add cumins, and saute for a minute. Add onions, and saute until translucent. Add the ginger-garlic paste and garam masala, and saute for another two to three minutes. Next, add the pureed spinach and tomato. Mix well. Cook until the spinach mixture has thickened, and the liquid from the tomato is cooked. Reduce heat to medium low, and continue to cook for five to ten minutes covered. If you think the curry is too thick, add a little water until the desired consistency. Adjust seasoning with salt. Before turning off the heat, add the paneer cubes. Mix them into the spinach, and simmer for two to three minutes, and then turn off the heat. Add greek yogurt, and mix thoroughly.

Serve with naan or pulao.

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