June 23, 2011 at 9:39 am , by Megan Weiss
TV journalist turned cook, Anupy Singla, takes the hesitation out of Indian cooking and introduces the flavors of her culture into (our favorite) the slow cooker! How easy is that? We asked the India native to share with us her top 5 myths about Indian cooking and a great traditional slow cooker recipe that will have you on your way towards a passion for her native cuisine.
Myth #1: All Indian food is too hot-spicy. Heat, which you get from cayenne or fresh, chile peppers is different than flavor. Traditional Indian spices like garam masala, cumin seed, and ground coriander add depth and flavor (not heat!) to your dish. If you don’t like a lot of heat, just leave out the chiles
Myth #2: You need dozens of unfamiliar spices. There are many spices used in Indian cooking but to get started you really only need about seven essentials: cumin and mustard seeds, ground coriander, garam masala (a traditional mix of spices you purchase as one), turmeric, cayenne, and salt. We’ll bet you already have most of these in the cupboard.
Myth #3: Indian food is oily and laden with cream. This is the type of food that some restaurants have become accustomed to serving. Indian food served in most households is anything but heavy and unhealthy. Most dishes eaten day-to-day are made with little to no oil and usually without cream.
Myth #4: Naan is a bread always eaten with Indian food. Only in restaurants. Remember, naan (a leavened bread made of white flour) is traditionally made in a tandoori oven – not something most Indian homes have. In a traditional home, Indians make roti – a much healthier whole wheat alternative that is cooked on the stovetop and is essentially flour and water.
Myth #5: Good Indian food can’t be made in a slow cooker. The very idea of slow heat used to cook meats, lentils and beans to perfection is a style of Indian cooking that is over two centuries old and referred to as ‘Dum Pukht’ or Slow Oven cooking. Food and spices were put in heavy pots sealed shut with a wet dough. They were cooked over a very low flame and the ingredients were given hours to meld together, while the spices infused the dish — essentially the equivalent of the modern day slow cooker!
Try Anupy’s recipe for Traditional Chicken Curry!
January 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
Slow-cookers are like magical dinner-making fairies. Or really awesome sous chefs. Seriously, I throw a bunch of ingredients in a pot, set it on low, go to work and come home to a fantastically yummy meal? Best thing ever. Someone needs to give its inventor a medal. Or at least a hug, on my behalf.
All that said, I don’t use my cooker as often as I intend to, mostly because I want the prep to be as simple as possible and I balk at anything requiring more than 5 ingredients and 10 minutes. (It’s tough enough for me to get up extra early to get the ingredients together. Added thinking or excessive time cannot be required, or I will go right back to bed.) So when I saw this taco recipe from our fabulous food editors, Tara and Khalil, in our February issue, I couldn’t wait to make it!
A small disclosure: The recipe called for pork loin, which is lower in fat than the cut I used, pork shoulder. I happened to have pork shoulder in the freezer and wanted to use it, so my tacos were a bit less good-for-you than Tara’s version! (Hers is above on the left, and mine is on the right. I could have benefited from some better lighting.)
Prep could not have been easier. I cut the meat in half, chopped up onions and carrots in my little food processor, minced some garlic and a chipotle chili and plopped it all in the pot with the rest of the ingredients: cannellini beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Besides the spices and cilantro, there are only eight ingredients, and I already had most of them!