How to: Slow Cooker – Daal

There is no shortage of slow cooker recipes popping up all over the place now that it’s fall. So why should you try this one? Because.

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And also, it was a “perfect on the first try” recipe. A simple, healthy, flavourful stew that tastes great right out of the slow cooker and even greater the next day for lunch.

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I tend to use my gigantic slow cooker in fits and starts. I find it does a great job of braising meat slow and low, but vegetables? Not so much.  In my experience, they get obliterated beyond recognition.  Sure, you can shorten the cook time. But then why use a slow cooker? Isn’t the idea to set it and forget it for the day? All this to say, since I seldom cook with meat at home, mine has been getting hauled out a couple of times a year at most. And I’ve decided, it’s just not enough to justify all of the valuable kitchen real estate it occupies.

So it’s been slow cooker testing mania all up in here.

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This recipe is a mash up of a slow cooker daal I found in The Best of Bridge Family Slow Cooker cookbook and my favourite stovetop daal recipe from Indian Cooking Unfolded by Raghavan Iyer. Guys. It’s really really good.

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I really like the combination of split peas and red lentils.  The lentils break down quite a bit more than the peas and give the daal a rich, thick texture.  If you’ve only got one or the other though, it’s all good.  Roll with it.  Fiddle with the spices if you like, too.  Add a pinch of cayenne for heat. Replace some of the chicken stock with coconut milk, or simply add a can of coconut milk and make it more of a soup.

When it’s done, jazz it up however you like.  Add fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley), a dollop of yogurt or sour cream or a squeeze of lime. Sprinkle on some toasted almonds or pine nuts or top with some cool, creamy avocado cubes.  It can be as humble or as fancy as you like.

Eat up, buttercups.

Erin

Slow Cooker Daal

Serves 6-8
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 6 hours
Total time 6 hours, 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried split yellow peas (well rinsed)
  • 1 cup red lentils (well rinsed)
  • 1 Small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 796mL (28 oz) can of whole tomatoes (chopped roughly in the can with scissors)
  • 3 cups no salt added chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons tumeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)

Directions

1. Add all ingredients to slow cooker, stir once or twice to combine. Set on low heat for 6-8 hours until split peas are cooked through but maintain their shape. Serve with rice, naan or something to soak up the delicious juices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to: Quickie Meal – Indian Spiced Lentil and Coconut Soup

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I have been cooking lots and blogging ZERO. Not OK.

While my momma’s cooking club has been amazing for getting homemade meals on the table three or four days a week, it’s also gotten me out of the habit of testing new recipes and taking photos for the blog.

BUT! I have a new tactic and starting next week I’ve decided to test and photograph on cooking club day.  Two birds. One stone. That old chestnut.

This recipe is one from this week’s club. I only managed to get a couple shots of the final product.  The recipe came by my friend’s sister-in-law who in turn got it from the amazing blog www.ohsheglows.com.  I have heard nothing but good things about the Oh She Glows Cookbook, too.

We adapted the recipe very slightly because we didn’t have enough pot space to make a double batch, but it turned out beautifully; almost a stew-like consistency.

My daughter is coming up on 9 months and is eating just about everything.  Could I be prouder? Nope.  She absolutely loved this soup.  A quick zip with a hand blender to break up the big chunks was all it needed for babyfication.

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This is a perfect one-bowl, 20 minute meal and while it is Indian spiced, it is not at all spicy.  It would be equally delicious with a hint of heat, though.

Enjoy!

Erin

Indian Spiced Lentil and Coconut Soup

Serves 4-5
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 25 minutes
Website Lightly adapted from Oh She Glows - Glowing Spiced Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1 Medium onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¾ cup red lentils (rinsed well)
  • 796ml can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable stock (or more for a soupier consistency)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Note

If you like a hint of heat, add a pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes when you add the spices to the pot.

Try adding some green by throwing in a few handfuls of baby spinach just before you remove it from the heat.

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
2. Add turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and cardamom. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes until lentils are soft.
3. Add additional salt and pepper to taste and serve.

How to: Make your own – Aloo Gobi (Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes)

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My friends are wicked. In the good sense.

They have come out of the woodwork to support my new mommy-ness and continue to bring delicious edible gifts.

Just yesterday my friend and colleague Rosy brought us a batch of How to Eat’s very own breakfast cookies. Her take was loaded with dried cherries and chocolate. My kind of substitutions.

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This Aloo Gobi recipe is inspired by another friend’s contribution to the new mom food bank.  When the wee babe was but a week old my friend Candace brought us an indian feast.  Chana masala, aloo gobi, naan and rice. All homemade, all done with two of her own little ones at home.  You can find a photo of her under the Wikipedia entry for ‘supermom’.

We live very near to Little India and have tried tried tried and failed to find a go-to Indian takeout restaurant close by.  Each restaurant seems to have one or two hits, but we can never find a complete meal we love.  Her aloo gobi was among the best I’ve ever had.  I immediately demanded the recipe.

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The recipe is simple and quick; under 30 minutes with prep included.  If you need to go out and buy any of these spices and you’re not sure you want to commit to a full container, try buying them at a bulk store.  You can buy as little as you need for a test run.

This is also a perfect make-ahead recipe.  It reheats beautifully and I find the flavour improves if eaten a day or two after it’s made.

The version I photographed for this blog post is made with roasted cauliflower.  Roasting adds great flavour (and is super gorgeous), but I decided to write the recipe using raw cauliflower because I find it better absorbed the indian spice flavour when fully cooked in the sauce.

Looking for more green? Serve over baby spinach.  If you’re looking for added protein, try adding a handful of chick peas for a 30 second fix.

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Along with our recipes for homemade naan and tofu saag, we’re well on our way to a perfect go-to indian meal right at home.

Erin

Aloo Gobi (Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes)

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Website Adapted from the Food Network

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic (about 3 large or 4 small cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 cup water (divided)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 Medium yellow or white potatoes (peeled and cut into ½)
  • 1 Small head cauliflower (cut into small florets)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)

Directions

1. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 Tbsp canola oil, garlic, ginger, coriander, tumeric and ½ cup of water. Set aside.
2. Heat remaining canola oil over medium high heat until it appears to shimmer on the surface. Add red pepper flakes and cumin seeds and sauté for 30 seconds. Carefully add the the wet spice mixture (it will sputter!) and sauté for about 2 minutes until most of the water is evaporated.
3. Add potatoes, cauliflower, remaining half cup of water and salt. Reduce heat to a medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover, stir to coat with sauce and continue cooking until potatoes are cooked through, about 5 more minutes.
4. Serve with basmasti rice and or naan. Garnish with greek yogurt.

 

 

 

 

 

How to: Make your own – Indian Saag with Tofu

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I just realized…this post can totally do double duty as a St. Patrick’s Day post.

Because green!

I was a skeptic the first time I tried saag (with paneer, a fresh indian cheese) many moons ago.  It’s not super, um, visually appealing let’s say.  But the flavour.  The flavour, guys!

I can’t even remember where I tried it first, but I feel like I’ve been let down by many bona fide indian restaurants in the years since that first taste.

IMG_3065This recipe first came to me at a book club meeting.  We read a book with an indian theme  so we went ahead and planned an indian themed potluck.  My friend Joanne brought the original slow cooked version of the recipe and it was flipping delicious.

Guys, for real, this one’s a triple threat.

It’s quick, it’s healthy and it’s jam packed with flavour.

I’ve made it a few times now and have tweaked the recipe to work as a 30 minutes stovetop meal.

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I’ve used my microplane to grate the garlic and ginger, but mincing both would be fine and dandy.

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Baking the tofu is a step that you could skip if needed.  I find pre baking with a little salt and pepper gives it a bit more flavour and improves the texture, giving it a ‘meatier’ feel.  If you can find indian paneer, use it.  It’s awesome.  I’ve also made this with haloumi cheese that I cubed and panfried first. Also damn yummy.

The following is a little step-by-step.

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Serve with your choice of brown or white rice and if you’re really feeling the indian vibe, make a batch of our homemade naan to go along with.

Erin

Indian Saag with Tofu

Serves 6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Website Adapted from the Slender Kitchen's Healthy Saag Paneer

Ingredients

  • 1 packet extra firm tofu (drained and cut in to 1" cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced or grated)
  • 3 tablespoons ginger (minced or grated)
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 600g frozen chopped spinach
  • 150g fresh spinach (washed)

Note

Using the fresh spinach toward the end of cooking gives the dish a more vibrant green colour.  If prepping this dish in advance, hold off on adding the fresh spinach and blending until you're almost ready to serve.

Directions

1. Pre-bake your tofu to give it a firmer, chewier texture, pre-heat oven to 400F. Toss tofu cubes with a pinch of salt and pepper and bake on a lined baking sheet for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside.
2. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for about a minute. Add garam masala, coriander, cumin and cayenne and sauté for another minute until fragrant.
3. Add salt tomato sauce, coconut milk, and frozen spinach. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until all the spinach is thawed.
4. Add fresh spinach, cover and cook for about 2 minutes until spinach is wilted.
5. Using an immersion or countertop blender, blend until spinach leaves are broken up into small pieces.
6. Add tofu and serve with rice and naan.

How to: Make Your Own Naan Bread

Warm. Chewy. Savoury.

A triple threat.

Naan’s got it all.

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Naan is a leavened flat bread.

Sounds like an oxymoron, but I swear it’s both flat and light as air all at once.

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It’s typically known to accompany curries, soups and stews in Indian cuisine where it can be used in lieu of pesky utensils to scoop food right into a hungry mouth.

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Sure, you can find naan prepackaged in a variety of supermarkets these days. But just as we’ve shown you with no-knead bread, homemade stuff is basically the bomb (do people even say ‘the bomb’ anymore?).

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We’ve also shown you how easy pizza dough can be, so if you’re a loyal follower, you should be a dough expert!

Kidding. Even if you’ve never made your own dough before you can totally do this. I promise, you will impress yourself.

DSC_6973I used white flour for 3/4 of this dough, but you can use up to half whole wheat flour if you’d like.  It won’t give you too much extra fibre, but I love the subtle flavour of a little whole wheat.

It’s safe to say most people know eating whole grains are a better option than refined ones. I would say if you’re eating whole grains most of the time (ie. if you buy whole grain breads when you grocery shop) and saving the refined stuff for when you make dough yourself, you’re probably hitting a good whole grain: refined grain ratio.

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Canola oil is a good option for brushing the naan because it’s got a high smoke point compared to butter or olive oil and you need a nice hot pan for this recipe.

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Bubbly goodness.

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Once you get going, each naan only take about 2 minutes. 

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When you’re done, you’ve got this big pile that you’ll want to shove in your face.

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Fred feels the same way.

I served mine with this delicious chana masala recipe from the Smitten Kitchen blog. We’ve got a similar (and much simpler option) right here if you would like something similar. Though the naan would be delicious with any soup/stew/curry concoction you can dream up.

So enjoy,

Erin

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Naan

Serves 8 naan
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 45 minutes
Website Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (you can use up to a 1:1 ratio of white and whole wheat flours)
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons instant quick rise yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm tap water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cups warm milk
  • canola oil for brushing

Note

If you're struggling to find a warm place to let your dough rise, try preheating your oven to 200F, turning it off and using the residual oven heat for your warm spot.

Directions

1. In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, add sugar and yeast to warm water and whisk lightly until combined. Let stand for 10 minutes.
2. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Add milk and yogurt to yeast mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Add wet mix to flour bowl, mix with a spoon until it appears rough and straggly. Continue mixing with floured hands and forming the dough into a rough ball.
4. Cover bowl with a dish towel and let it sit somewhere warm for about 1 hour until the dough has approximately doubled in size.
5. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface. Form it in to a smooth ball by tucking the bottom edges under the dough and rotating it as you go. Cut dough in to eight equal pieces.
6. Form each piece into a small ball by again, pulling the edges under while rotating it. Sprinkle a little flour on each ball and roll them out to about 6-8" in diameter and about 1/4" thick.
7. Preheat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. One at a time, brush one side of the rolled naan dough with canola oil. Place oil side down in hot pan, brush the side up in the pan with addition oil, cover with a lid and cook for 1 minute until the dough is bubbled and starts to brown. Remove lid, flip naan with tongs, and cook for another 1-2 minutes until it is fluffy and the bubbly parts are browned.
8. Remove from pan, sprinkle with herbs and/or other seasoning. Best if served warm on the same day, but freeze well too.