Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Bhindi Masala and Kadhai Paneer

As a kid, I hated okra. Part of my love for Indian food comes from the way it took a childhood dislike and made into one of my favorite vegetables. Bhindi Masala (okra with mixed spices) is a great dish, and one that I recommend for anyone who wants to give okra another chance. Here, hing, amchur (dried mango powder), turmeric, and a mixture of freshly ground coriander and cumin are about to be dumped into the cooking okra, onion, and red bell peppers. The amchur in particular adds a real tangy punch to the dish.

I've been having beans all week, so I decided not to pair the okra with a daal. Instead, I made a vegan version of kadhai paneer, substituting the mild white cheese with tofu. Paneer is made with dairy milk in almost the same way as tofu is made from soy milk, and the two are pretty interchangeable. This handy fact was something I learned here on this very board years ago :).

"Kadhai" is an Indian wok. Kadhai paneer can be made lots of different ways, but coriander and cayenne are the two main spices. Though with the memories of those fiery jerk plantains still in my head, I toned down the amount of cayenne considerably. Here, ground clove, nutmeg, cayenne, and coriander are added to the wok, with a fresh tomato joining soon after.

Tonight I timed myself, just to see exactly how long it would take from start to finish, including tofu pressing, vegetable chopping, and spice assembling. So after 1 hour and 12 minutes, here's Bhindi Masala and Kadhai Paneer, along with basmati rice.

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