Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Indian Feast

We got an Opo squash the other day, and the oracle said we should make an Indian dish called OLAN out of it. So that's what I did 2 nights ago. Of course, Mark had to bake bread for it, so he made some naan. It turned out delicious! The sweetness of the acorn and the sofness of the naan complemented each other wonderfully!

To make the olan, follow the recipe, but just note that Opo squash is VERY similar to zucchini, so if you don't feel like going to the Asian market just for the former, just use the latter. The acorn squash, in my opinion, deserves the most credit for the deliciousness of this dish, as does the coconut milk. Also, I did not have coconut oil, so I just use 1 T of vegetable oil. Also, I did not have green beans. I can't see how omitting them would harm when you already have such a delicious vegetable as acorn squash. Yumm!
I found that cooking halved acorn squash in the microwave (in a covered bowl with a bit of water) for 5 minutes or so makes it softer and much easier to dice. It also saves some over-the-stove time.

We had leftovers for last night, but not enough for a whole meal. So I added some traditional chickpea dish that my mom taught me, and mark made some crisp and delicious chapati that turned out almost the same as the one my mom makes (she usually doesn't use whole wheat)!

Making Southern Indian dishes is really simple once you have a few essential ingredients, and most of them use pretty much the same technique - the only thing that changes is the vegetable. I think it's worthwhile investing a little in those special ingredients, especially since they are not expensive and they can last a long time.
The essential ingredients are:
  • Mustard seeds (can get at Asian markets)
  • Curry leaves (available at Asian markets, and keeps in the fridge. They dry out and are usable for at least a few months).
  • Dried red pepper (available at Asian or Mexican stores)
To make the chickpea dish you will need:
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 t mustard seeds
  • 1/2 T chopped (or crumbled, if the leaves are dry) curry leaves
  • 3-4 dried red peppers, crushed (less if you want less spicy)
  • 1 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained
  • salt to taste
  • cumin, turmeric and paprika (a little of each goes a long way!)
  • Heat the oil in a small-medium pan.
  • When the oil is fairly hot, add the mustard seeds and cover immediately. A few seconds later the seeds will pop. Reduce heat to medium.
  • When the seeds stop popping, uncover and add the onion, pepper, and curry leaves.
  • Cook until onion is golden-brown.
  • Add chickpeas and spices and stir for a few minutes.
You can substitute chickpeas with either cooked diced potatoes or cooked red lentils for variation. It's highly recommended to turn the over-the-stove fan on HIGH or else you and your surroundings will smell very Indian...

For dessert, we had a sweet snack that my mom sent me:

I don't really know what's inside, but it's really good and probably not very healthy :)


Dani said...

Chris thinks he doesn't like acorn squash. I think he is crazy. Maybe I can slip this one past him.

Dorit said...

haha! I'm sure he likes it, he just doesn't know it yet :)