Oct 29, 2009

A Question...A give-away ...and a fall afternoon

I have a question. I have been meaning to bake something spicy for Halloween this year. And I still have not been able to make up my mind. And now it is upon me and there is still nothing that I have put in the oven :(  And the reason is not because there are not enough recipes going around. In fact, quite the opposite. I had been meaning to make one of the many that I have bookmarked. But I am so confused. They are all soooo good!!
But what I am really looking for is something quick and exotic enough to be scary..but not too complicated. Knowing my inability to stick to instruction, the easier they are the better I may fare :)

So I have come to you all to help me out on this one. And there is a cute give- away too involved.  A pack of whole all spice-- that my grandmother had gifted me from a local spice shop in the town where I have grown up. I have the last packet left. So I am going to send some of it (since I want to use a bit of it too!) along with a lot of gratitude to the person who will suggest a quickie for me for this Halloween.  It does not have to be your own recipe either. Any thing will do!

Okay a bit about this local spice shop. I have forever associated the smell of a new pack of spice to this place. It was the only spice shop which  I have visited in my life and that smell is hardwired into my senses. For one thing this place also has huge old grinders in which they would grind spices, in the shop. You could see it. I have seen actually how they grind turmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin, mustard ...oh coriander. And there used to be a curious smell of all of these together whenever I passed by it. A real curious smell.

And at times I find myself hankering for the smell. And when I do, this is what I make. Not to say that  this dish smells exactly like that shop, although it uses quite a few of the spices that they grind in that shop, but it makes me feel like home..cosy and sweet in the winter sunshine, dry chapped lips, dusty roads and light rugs to snuggle into with a thriller...the smell of the kitchen and spices light in the breezy room upstairs..


All the veggies you can think of. I use
1 big potato- sliced up
half a head of cauliflower- separate them into small flowers and discard most of the green stalk.
1 medium eggplant. Chopped up
A handful of green beans. Chopped up
A cup of green peas- frozen or freshly peeled. If you are using frozen, soak them in water for 10 minutes.

1 big tomato. Halve it and scoop out the seeds. Will help retain crunchiness and flavor while cooking. Then chop it up.
1 tbsf grated ginger. Fresh is best

Now comes the spices. Ah....

1 tsp of whole cumin
1 tbsf coriander powder
1 tbsf cumin powder
1/4 tsp of turmeric
1/4 th tsp of cayenne pepper. Optional. Use if you like heat.

4 tbsf regular oil
4.5 cups of water or vegetable stock. Its best to use warm water. If using veg stock, take it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before using it. The warmth of the water/ stock helps seal in flavors.

Salt to taste.

Here is how..

Soften the potatoes  cauliflower and the eggplants in the microwave at high for 3 minutes. Take a big big non stick pot. Heat the oil in it. When hot, add the whole cumin. Wait for ~ 10 secs or for the aroma. Add the potatoes and cauliflowers, followed by eggplants, followed by beans. Wait a couple of minutes before adding each set. In that interval, saute and cover.

Alternatively, you can roast all the veggies ( coat them with a tsp of oil) in the oven at  400 F for 15 minutes  and add them to the pot once your cumin has given off the aroma.

Once all the veggies are in the pot, just saute and cover for a 3 minutes, checking to make sure the bottom does not burn. Add the tomato, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric cayenne pepper, peas and water/ vegetable stock.  Give everything one big stir and bring to a boil. Best done by keeping the pot covered. Helps quick cooking and retaining the flavor. Lower heat and simmer for ~ 7-8 minutes. Season with salt! and take it off the stove

And have it as a veg soup with bread. You can also use it as a veggie dish on warm rice. You know just talking about it wants me go back home right now and have this one. And I do believe that no one can make it as good as my grandmother does. But its a great dish. Especially for a weekend lunch on a sunny and cold fall afternoon. ....

Sorry, I have no pictures :) I wrote this down as without any plans for it. Just came to me while I was talking about the spice shop :)

Happy eating and healthy living


Nat said...

Hi J ! Well, I have a small idea..BUT it is extremely scary..esepcially if you're someone how does not like much Spice ( which I do). This is the link to a classic pumkin curry from where i hold my roots...

I suppose you could exclude the dried shrimp powder.

Your recipe today reminds me of a gorgeous aromatic vege kurma btw...

Good luck with making up your mind for your halloween cook-off...

Heather said...

hmmm. a spicy halloween recipe? i dunno. my favorite source of "heat" in cooking is sriracha. but beyond that, i got nothing :)

Palidor said...

A Halloween recipe? Hmm... sorry, but I can't think of one! I've never baked anything for Halloween and haven't turned my mind to the theme at all.

I'm loving your veggie dish. I just can smell those wonderful spices. One thing I love about Indian grocery stores is that wonderful spice scent in the air.

Chow and Chatter said...

love the idea for your giveaway have a great halloween

Sarah said...

I don't make a whole lot of indian, thai or mexican I usually leave that to the experts! Speaking of memories it's wonderful when a certain aroma triggers happy food memories! Thanks for visiting, hope to see you again.

the ungourmet said...

You can never have too many veggies! I love playing around with spices too! I can imagine this dish tastes so fragrant and delicious while it's cooking! :D

The Japanese Redneck said...

Well, this absolutely my favorite cookie recipe. Maybe you can add some cayenne or ginger to it to spice it up.



Murasaki Shikibu said...

I guess I'll go for the warm rice version. This sounds nice and healthy and delicious. :)

Anonymous said...

This is my first visit here, but I will be back soon, because I really like the way you are writing, it is so simple and honest