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Monday, November 19, 2007

So Easy That I'm (Almost) Embarassed to Tell You

My children like Indian food, even Baby J. In fact, I thought he was a picky eater, because he wouldn't eat stuff like rice cereal or apple sauce. I was eating a dish of palak paneer for lunch and he went nuts reaching for the spoon. I gave him a taste and he couldn't get enough. In fact, he ate the rest of my lunch. It turns out, he's not a picky eater, he's Indian, so now I sprinkle curry powder on anything he deems too bland.

As you may know, I'm a huge fan of certain ready made foods, like these sauces by Maya Kaimal. I know I should learn to make Indian food from scratch,'s so much easier this way! And I bet it's better than anything I could make. I also can't resist a meal that takes five minutes to prepare. There are several ways to go about this, so I'll just explain the basic plan.

Meat Lovers Version

A slow cooker is the way to go for this one. Melt a little butter or vegetable oil in a frying pan and sauté a chopped onion. When the onion is soft and maybe a little bit brown around the edges, dump it in the slow cooker. Add the following:

2 10-16 oz. bags of frozen, chopped spinach.
3/4 cup dried lentils.
3/4 cup water
1 15 oz. jar of Maya Kaimal's Vindaloo or Tikki Masala sauce. The other ones are good, too, but those happen to be our favorites.

Stir it all together. In the pan where you sautéed the onion, brown whatever meat you want to use. No need to wash the pan first; the remaining oil or butter will keep the meat from sticking. I've used lamb chops, chicken wings, chicken breast and lamb cutlets. Use whatever you want.

Once you've browned the meat, lay it on top of the mixture in the slow cooker and cook it. I can't tell you exactly how long, but you should be able to get an idea from looking at another slow cooker recipe that uses the same amount and kind of meat you're using.

Serve it all over rice. I'm crazy about Carolina Plantation Rice, which smells like butter while it's cooking, even though there's no butter in it.

For My Vegetarian Friends

The vegetarian version is even easier. In a big frying pan, sauté one chopped onion in butter. Add two 10 oz. bags of frozen spinach and a jar of the special sauce of your choice. If you want to add lentils, cook them ahead of time (3/4 cup dry lentils yields about 2 cups cooked.) Make sure they're pretty mushy and stir them in.

While that's heating up, take a smaller frying pan and melt a little butter in it. Add some cubed paneer to the pan and sauté until it's a little brown around the edges, turning it every now and then.

Serve it in a bowl with rice.

Namasté, y'all!

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