Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chana masala, naan bread and my addiction to Indian food

I don't know what it is about Indian food, but I'm addicted. I think it's the simplicity of some dishes, that without any fancy ingredients, get the flavor from wonderful combinations of spices. For instance, this Chana Masala. Take chickpeas, plain, maybe even boring, add some cumin, turmeric, garam masala and magic happens. 

Before moving to the US I had barely tried any Indian food. It's not really popular in Spain and there's very few restaurants that serve the real deal. Plus, back then, I was a little terrified of spicy food. Then at the MIT lab I had several Indian coworkers, who introduced me to all sorts of great dishes. Not like I really had a choice! One wonderful thing about Indian culture is the concept that sharing food makes it even better. According to my labmate, if you make a very elaborate dish that takes you several hours to prepare, it's almost a duty to share it with as many people as possible. So yes, they all feed me like my mum would. But hey, share the goodness! way to go. 

In my current lab, every once in a while we have Indian food lunch. That is, my coworkers make a bunch of traditional dishes and we all get to try them. Needless to say, they make them real spicy. I'm not sure as to how I got used to the heat. I think I killed several taste buds along the way and told my stomach to deal with it. So far, a few things I'm in love with are Senvian KheerDhokla and of course Samosas

By all means, if any of my readers happens to have good traditional recipes for any of them, please share them with me! I'd love to try! Also feel free to correct me if I'm not using the right names. In my attempt to recreate some Indian dishes at home,I think I'm on my way to mastering Lentil Dahl. This was my first try with Chana masala and Naan bread and they came out pretty tasty! I highly recommend you give both a shot. They're simple yet tasty foods that anyone can make. 

Chana masala
Serves 2, adapted from here

1 tablespoon butter, ghee or oil (I used vegetable oil)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 pint chopped tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes)
1/2 cup water
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a pan, cook the onion until golden and soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Stir in the coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Cook briefly, for about half a minute, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook for about five minutes or until tender. Then add the chickpeas and water, bring the mixture to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Add the paprika, garam masala, salt and lemon juice and cook for about 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Naan bread
Makes 8 pieces
Adapted from here

300g / 10.5 oz bread flour
10 g fresh yeast or a packet of dry yeast (I used dry)
1 cup plain yogurt 
100 mL / 3.4 fl oz. lukewarm milk
1 tablespoon olive oil/ghee + 2 tablespoons for brushing
1 tsp salt

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm milk and let it proof. In a bowl, sift together flour and salt and make a well in the center. Add the yogurt to the milk and yeast and pour it in the middle of the well. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until elastic and not sticky. Let the dough rise in a greased bowl until it doubles in size or for 1 hr. 
Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and flatten them with your knuckles, giving them an oval shape. Transfer them to your baking sheet and let them rest for 20 minutes. 
Preheat your oven to 300 F and brush the bread with the ghee or oil. Bake for 12 minutes. Serve warm. 


Maria said...

O sigui, que no tinc paraules!! Nena, estas que te sales!
Primer de tot, el pa i els cigrons, mare meva, no he probat mai real Indian food, but let me tell you, I'm anxious to do it!!

Segon, la primera foto, estic que no m'ho crec, super orgullosa!!

Ara si que t'haig de felicitar, estic molt molt impressionada, Congrats!!!!!

Kalva said...

awesome... suprised you can cook Indian food like this!!!

Anonymous said...

What a cool idea for the before and after photo! Very nicely done.

Phyllis said...

Hey Adriana,
I share your love of Indian food. Isn't it the greatest? And your photos are fantastic! You might like to try one of my Indian recipes--I think you'll love the fried eggplant slices, spicy and crisp; also shrimp, Kerala style, kheema with fried onions and cucumber raita. Not quick dishes but so worth the effort. Oh, also basmati rice with okra croutons. Happy cooking! Phyllis, aka

baobabs said...

i love how you pieced together the photo of before and after. I have yet to venture out into Indian food as I was always afraid of how complicated it'd be, but u made it sound manageable. I'm also envious you get Indian food at your lunches! I'm also mad about samosas, palek paneer, tandoori anything and lots of curries and spices!

La cuina vermella said...

Ostres, com m'agradaria treballar amb gent d'arreu del món i que els companys de feina esdevinguessin companys d'aventures culinàries. A casa el picant agrada, i molt, o sigui que ja estem fent tard per preparar aquesta magnífica recepta. Molts petons estimada.

Tracy said...

I LOVE chana masala and naan - these look wonderful!

lisa said...

I have an indian food addiction too -- it's my favorite type of food. I love the deep earthy flavors, the unique spices, the color.. I can go on and on..your chana masala looks amazing! How delicious.

Sweet Artichoke said...

This chana masala looks awesome! I love your picture, too!

redmenace said...

Honestly, I was off Indian food for a while. I traveled to India and then I could eat no more. For months. However, it's funny. The cravings crept back in and your post couldn't be more timely. I'm ready for it again. This recipe looks delicious! I love the pics!

Meg said...

ooooh yum! Can't wait to try this out.

Raina said...

Hi. Thanks for visiting my blog. I like your blog:)

Your dish looks wonderful. You are lucky to have such nice coworkers who share their food and recipes. I am just beginning to learn about Indian food through blogging. Looking forward to tasting your recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

I love Indian food too. Love the look of the naan bread. Will definitely trying making them soon.

Anonymous said...

Love the before-after diptych! :D I'm not so big on Indian dishes per se, but I really love their breads;-- naan, chapati, paratha. Hope to give your naan recipe a try soon!

Ksenia said...

A mi també m'agrada la cuina india. Crec que estic lluny de dominar-la, però vaig millorant :) I tens raó: aquí és una gran desconeguda. La primera (i única) vegada que vaig probar menjar indi de veritat va ser en un restuarant a Praga. Per cert, m'encanta l'abans i després de la primera foto :)

PS: No, no va ser el meu cumple, sinó el de la meva mare (els petits fours eren per l'ocasió). Jo vaig neixer en mig de l'hivern, a trenta graus sota zero :P

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

OoO nice idea for the transportation photos. I had this at a restaurant recently but it was underspiced. Yours looks bright and flavorful.

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Um I meant "transformation" photos haha.

M. said...

I love Indian food myself, so I understand your addiction :)
beautiful first photo of before and after, both equally tasty :)

Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen said...

I love the first photo! I love Chana Masala. It's the quickest way to spice up a can of garbanzo beans. I've never tried making naan bread...I should give a whirl!

kickpleat said...

I love love love chana masala. But the real kick in the pants is the naan bread. Wow, you are awesome.

Prerna said...

Wow! what a pretty space you have here. Your chana masala recipe attracted me so thought of dropping a line.
It has always been my favorite not just because its taste out of the world but also because Its so quick to fix. Would love to try your naan recipe sometime.
Keep up the good work your doing here!

Nisha said...

Love that before-after transformation pic. So cool!!!
Was searching for chana masala on Google images & came here, your first photo very catchy :)
Glad to know you appreciate Indian food, and cook too. I think making Naan is quite advanced stage hehe, I haven't perfected it yet, so great job there!
Surprised you get time to blog despite your PhD and lab researches; what's your secret of time management?! :D

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