Chana Masala is a Gateway Drug

Last night, I cleared my schedule and decided to make smitten kitchen’s chana masala. I’d made it once before, but it had been with a bunch of friends over and there were so many hands involved I didn’t have a clear sense of how long it would take. Turns out, that dish takes about ten minutes to prep: Chop two onions (two minutes), press garlic (1 minute), add excessive amounts of spices (5 minutes), add tomatoes, chickpeas, and water (two minutes).

so many spices!

I kid you not, it literally took me five minutes of running back and forth between the recipe and the spices and measuring spoons. There are SO MANY SPICES. I finally understood why many cultures think American (and British) food is so boring– the only dish that I think comes close to containing that many spices is pumpkin pie. And we make that once or twice a year. And it’s dessert, which totally doesn’t count.

Anyhow, after adding everything, the dish simmers for ten minutes, you add some salt and lemon juice, and that’s it. I had so much extra time I cleaned the kitchen! And then ate a very, very tasty dinner!

Problem is–now I’ve got all of these delicious spices and I want to make more delicious dinner foods! Can anyone recommend some extremely excellent Indian recipes that are similarly tasty and easy?

Recommended Reading: Notes on Freezing

It’s decidedly winter. If you’re anywhere in the Northeast right now, the snow and cold are probably making you dream deliriously of beaches and sunshine and drinks that come in tall glasses garnished with pineapple. In terms of food, winter usually means that I tend towards soups and pastas and other things that are warm. But it also makes me think of how much I tend to slack off, in terms of cooking and storing, during the summer.

One year during college, when I lived in a co-op, I spent part of the early fall making a delicious spaghetti sauce, spiced liberally with fresh dill. I filled most of a gallon jar with it, then took it down to the basement and put it in our spare freezer. Later that year, in the dead of winter, I crept downstairs and brought it out. I sat the oversized jar in a large pot of warm water and waited for it to thaw while I put the water on for pasta.

When I finally caught a whiff of the sauce, it was like a mental transport right back to the previous fall—making trips to our local CSA farm, picking ripe cherry tomatoes off the vine in the afternoon sunlight, filling our bags with fresh bunches of dill, parsley, basil, etc. In short, it was delicious.

After college, however, there weren’t often extra freezers in my life, so I slacked off storing soups and sauces for the winter. But this recent post from Stacy reminded me about all the possibilities; maybe next summer I’ll spend more time in the freezer. (And not just because I don’t have AC!)


a108946_0051 The secret to good tabbouleh is very simple: don’t cook the bulgar. What’s the catch? You have to make it 24 hours in advance. The bulgar marinates in the juices of everything else, making for an especially flavorful dish.

Every time I make this recipe, I’m convinced it will fail: the bulgar won’t open up, I won’t have this dish, tragedy will ensue, etc. Every time, it is absolutely delicious.

Credit to my mom for teaching me this one.

Recipe for Tabbouleh Continue reading

The World’s Best Appetizer

When I die, there’d best be a plate of these in the waiting room for heaven:

Tri-Color Yum

Ingredients: sundried tomatoes, fresh mozzerella, fresh basil, & french bread

You can get sundried tomatoes in jars at your local grocer, or buy at a fancy food store. Slice the mozzerella as thinly as possible and top with fresh basil leaf. Toothpick optional. It’s important to put the sundried tomato on the bread first, as it sops up all the delicious juices very nicely.