vegan curry

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for vegetable curry.

1 medium potato, cubed
1 cup cauliflower
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 cup green peas
1 jalapeno or serrano chili, sliced (remove the seeds if you can’t handle the heat, you pansy)
juice of one quarter of a lime
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil

In a saucepan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds.
After a few seconds, the mustard seeds will start to pop and this is when you add the potatoes.
Once the potatoes brown a bit, add the rest of the vegetables, spices, sugar, salt, and lime juice.
Lower the heat and let the curry simmer. Add some water if you need to.
That’s it. It can’t be any simpler.

potatoes frying
Time to add veggies!

veggie curry before adding spices
add the spices and some dihydrogen monoxide…

veggie curry after adding spices
and now we wait.

rice and curry
You can still see the steam coming off from the curry. Whenever I make rice, I always make extra so I can use it the next day to make fried rice.

fried rice
Here’s the fried rice I made with the leftover rice. It’s got Chinese sausage, eggs, and onions. The sausage I used is called “lap cheung”. It’s sweet and has a high fat content. I cook the sausage first to render the fat and use the fat to cook the onions and eggs. To quote Emeril, “Pork fat rules!”

Dinner: Impossible

If you’ve ever watched Dinner: Impossible featuring Robert Irvine, I went through a similar scenario today. If you haven’t, watch the ones with Robert Irvine. I don’t like new ones with Michael Symon. His personality doesn’t really fit with the show and it feels fake. Robert Irvine was more entertaining and enthusiastic. It begins like this: I got to lab at 3pm to do some work but when I got there, my professor invites me to my grad student’s (Yash) going away party instead.

Mission:
Party starts at 6:30pm (3.5 hours)
Potluck party
Limited counter space (2′ x 3′)

Menu:
Spring rolls
Samosas
Dark chocolate chip walnut cookies

From there, I walked home and drove to Sweetbay and Oriental 88 to pick up groceries. By the time I got home, it was 4pm. That gave me 2 hours to make everything if I take into account half an hour to change and drive to the party.

I started by making the cookies. Here’s the recipe I used:
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup walnuts
1 cup dark chocolate chips

cookie ingredients
Here’s a picture of all the ingredients.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cream butter, sugar, and eggs
Add the rest of the dry ingredients (minus walnuts and chocolate chips) and mix well
Gently fold in walnuts and chocolate chips
Separate dough into 12 balls
Bake for 14 minutes (16-18 minutes if you like your cookies more cooked)

creamed butter and sugar
I don’t have an electric mixer so this is what I do. I just use a coffee mug or in this case a jar to cream the butter, sugar, and eggs. That extra effort and love makes my cookies that much better.

cookie dough
Butter + sugar + eggs + cocoa powder = yum
This equation took Pythagoras 17 years to prove. You can look up the proof on Google. It’s very complex and long, you probably won’t understand it. All you need to know is that it is delicious.

cookies before baking
You could eat these as they are, but these babies are going into the oven and will come out even better.

cookie dough
Who wants to lick the bowl?

cookies!
Cookies done! If you give one of these trays to a girl, she will forgive any offense.

cookies close up
Are you drooling yet?

Once the cookies were in the oven, I started making the samosa filling. Really, you can put anything in a samosa. Potatoes and green peas are a good base and add spices to taste from there. Some people may like bold spices but others may not be able to handle it. Mine is pretty mild compared to traditional savory Indian samosas. Here’s what I used:

1 can of diced potatoes
1 diced yellow onion
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup of green peas
1 tbsp oil

Directions:
Heat up some oil and drop some mustard seeds in there
Add onions once the seeds start popping (It may be better to take the seeds out from the oil before adding onions and then putting them back in once the potatoes goes in. Otherwise, the seeds will burn like mine did).
Add the rest of the spices
Add potatoes and peas
Stir mixture well until potatoes and peas are cooked

samosas
I finished the spring roll filling and wrappers before I started wrapping and frying the samosas. I only managed to finish 7 and I didn’t have time to take pictures of the process. The only way that was happening was if I had an extra pair of hands. I didn’t get too many pictures of the spring roll making process either. I’ll do those in another post.

For the spring rolls I used:
1 package firm tofu
1/2 head of cabbage
1/2 cup carrot strips
1 bunch green onions
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce

*If I had more time or ingredients, I would’ve added some mushrooms and sesame oil.

Directions:
First drain the tofu and cut into 1 cm cubes.
Fry those in 1 tbsp of oil until the sides get textured. Add 1 tbsp soy sauce. Set aside.
In same wok/pot, add 1 tbsp oil.
Fry shredded cabbage and carrot strips. Add 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper.
Once cabbage and carrot strips are cooked, add green onions and remove from heat. Add tofu back to vegetables.
Drain vegetable filling on paper towels before wrapping.

spring roll filling
Draining the vegetables on paper towels.Not shown is the tofu cubes. See how much water comes out from the cabbage? By draining them, your spring rolls are less likely to tear from the water during rolling. Also, they stay crunchy longer because there is less water in the filling.

wrapping station
Rolling station. In the upper left is a mixture of corn starch and water to seal the roll.

deep frying spring rolls
Everything tastes better deep fried. Deep frying is tricky without a proper thermometer. If the temperature is too low, oil will seep into the food. If it is too high, the outside will burn quickly. I usually set it the heat to medium and adjust based on the rate of items I am placing in the oil.

spring rolls on cooling rack
I took one of the grills from the oven and placed it over the sink to drain the spring rolls.

spring rolls
Finished product. Mine stayed crispy for about 2 hours or so. If you heat them up in an oven, they will crisp up again.

I didn’t manage to finish all the samosas so my mission failed, but considering what I made in 2 hours, I think I was pretty efficient. I made good use of the little counter space I had. I ended up using my dresser, computer desk, chair, and microwave as extensions of my workspace. I got to the party on time too. My grad student didn’t arrive until at least 20 minutes after I did, so I could’ve finished frying the rest of the samosas. So if I analyze how I spent my time, I spent 1 hour shopping, 2 hours cooking, and a half hour in transportation. I had food and cooking utensils scattered all over my tiny apartment and McGuyvered my way through this challenge. Move over, Michael Symon. I’m eying your job.

potluck 1
potluck 2
There was 10 people at the party and these pictures were taken AFTER everyone had eaten. Needless to say, we had a lot of food. Hyung brought bulgogi and fried rice. Peng brought the seafood casserole. Yash and his wife brought samosas with tamarind sauce. Brett and Michelle brought lasagna and cookies. I think Gaurav and his wife brought some sort of milkshake that was really good. I wouldn’t mind drinking that milkshake every morning. My professor bought calzones and pizza. I didn’t want my lab mates asking why I was taking pictures of the food so I sneaked a few pictures in while everyone wasn’t paying attention. I was thinking about making bulgogi, but good thing I didn’t. The samosas my grad student’s wife made were way better than mine. I was actually embarrassed when he tried one and had his wife try one. He said it was really good but it’s nerve wrecking when an Indian person is trying your samosa! Like always, my cookies were a hit and I I think everyone liked the spring rolls too. There were only 5 or 6 left and Peng took all of them home. I’m guessing that means he really liked them!. Everything was delicious and I had two platefuls of food. Today was an unexpected surprise but I had a ton of fun cooking and socializing at the party.

Love and Peace,

Zaw