Indian Spiced Potato Pancakes

potato.pancake.final3.jpg

Since I can’t eat bread... Pause for the appropriate sigh of sympathy, I’m always searching for something that will act like bread. Either as a layer to be used for toppings or to help scoop things up. So, when I aspired to make an Indian style meal for my husband and sister, I of course purchased some yummy naan like bread for them. Leaving me without a vehicle to push and scoop up my food. And as I lifted these soft yeasty breads of out my shopping bag, I was even more convinced I needed to treat myself to something equally yummy. I remembered that we had potatoes and figured I could craft myself an Indian style pancake that would do the trick.

So besides the no yeast limitation, another issue (or should I say issues) for me, is no eggs and no wheat. Shall we pause again, for a bigger sigh of sympathy. I dare say, yes. Without eggs and wheat flour, how the heck does one hold things together? And, I’m not just talking about ingredients. My emotions need to be stabilized, too! (Remember when I made salmon burgers? There are some clues. Check out that recipe here.)

Some people make potato latkes with grated potatoes. Others make them with mashed potatoes, but most use flour and eggs to bind them. I thought about using ground flax seeds mixed with water to bind, as that is a usual egg substitute but instead harkened back to the concept of combining textures to hold them together just like I did with the salmon burgers.

These were my ingredients: Idaho potatoes, potato flour, hot peppers, scallions, cilantro & spices

These were my ingredients: Idaho potatoes, potato flour, hot peppers, scallions, cilantro & spices

So I boiled and mashed some of potatoes and grated the rest. Then combined them together with the spices and a tad bit of potato flour.

ingredients

3 c potatoes, boiled
1.5 c potato, raw, shredded
1 t fresh cilantro, minced
1/3 c scallions, sliced
1 T red/green long hot pepper, small dice
1/4 t curry powder
3/4 t salt
1/4 t cumin powder
2 T potato flour

Salt, cumin & curry: The spices that make it special.

Salt, cumin & curry: The spices that make it special.

Instructions

1. Cut and boil some of the potatoes. When done, drain well and mash them up.

2. Meanwhile, chop, mince, dice the other ingredients. Don’t grate the remaining potato until you are ready to
combine, or soak in water to avoid browning. But then make sure you squeeze out all the excess liquid.

3. Combine all ingredients and then add potato flour.

Mise en place: everything in place and ready to assembly.

Mise en place: everything in place and ready to assembly.

That’s a nice looking mixture about to take form.

That’s a nice looking mixture about to take form.

Simply add the potato flour to combine throughout.

Simply add the potato flour to combine throughout.

4. Form into patties. You can go freeform with your hands or use some form to help shape them.
I used approximately 2 T of mixture, and formed them into 2.5” rounds and 1/2” thick. I also
made a few very thin. I liked both thickness for different purposes.

First I used the small ramekin because it was on my board holding the spices.

First I used the small ramekin because it was on my board holding the spices.

Then I remember that I had an actual mold that was the same size, so I used that instead.

Then I remember that I had an actual mold that was the same size, so I used that instead.

5. Fry in a cast iron pan with olive oil until you get a good crust on both sides.

Over medium high heat is how you get these crispy, giving you crunchy texture on the outside and soft potatoe-y goodness on the inside.

Over medium high heat is how you get these crispy, giving you crunchy texture on the outside and soft potatoe-y goodness on the inside.

These lasted but a moment in my house. After this shot was taken, but one or two were left!

These lasted but a moment in my house. After this shot was taken, but one or two were left!

Holy crap, these things were delicious, and with a delayed kick. These potato pancakes were part of an entire Indian inspired meal. If you read the post featuring Dal, which incorporated the long hot peppers, then you will know that I didn’t think those peppers had a lot of heat, so I added jalapeños to the Dal. When making these pancakes, knowing that the rest of the meal had spice in each dish, I didn’t want to add more heat. So I only used the long peppers, and didn’t add jalapeño. Thank goodness I didn’t. I never expected these to have a kick, but for some reason in these potato pancakes, the heat from the peppers came shining through in a very pleasing ‘I want more’ way.

One more note. I will admit that just like anything you fry to get that crisp outer coating, they are best when freshly made and served immediately. They taste great warmed up the next day and day after, but they just don’t have that fresh crispy edge.

Here are the ones that I made thinner. As you can see, they are even crispier. Either way; thick or thin, they are quite tasty and satisfying.

Here are the ones that I made thinner. As you can see, they are even crispier. Either way; thick or thin, they are quite tasty and satisfying.

You can serve this a thousand ways, beside as a side to an Indian inspired meal. Here are a few other ideas.

  • Top with sour cream and add smoked salmon or trout

  • With fried eggs, maybe add hollandaise sauce, or raita

  • Dollop of hummus, Baba Ghanoush or Tabouli

You see where I’m going. I trust you will come up with your own long list. Or do as I did... Eat them all on their own!

Indian Spiced Rice

It’s no secret I love Italian food, most notably – pasta. But that is just my go to comfort zone. I adore many other ethnic foods. I guess like most of us, when I don’t know what to cook, I lean into my sweet spot. So, in an attempt to not make pasta this particular day, I begged my tummy to give me a sign.

It answered back with a resounding gurgle for spice. And, as if the universe was conspiring with my stomach, forcing me to crawl out of my pasta coma, I just happened to tune into a cooking show where a rambunctious guy was making rice using star anise and a cinnamon stick. Now those are some fierce energy vibes working their magic in the universe; fast and furious. The craving turned into a rushing wave. I was now officially pining Indian flavors.

There was no time to waste, especially given that the day before was a total flop, food wise. The guilt from my lazy Monday of not making a stitch of grub, which left us grazing on some undressed arugula and a can of sardines, compelled me to make us a good meal. It was Tuesday, and no way was I going to let the week continue on this no cook trend. Plus my sister was coming. I seriously needed to get my butt into gear. Taking mental stock of what we had available, the first two items that popped up were string beans and potatoes. I could make Indian food with those.

Now for the spices. Sure, we keep a few interesting ones on hand, and some that land squarely in the Indian spice world. But we definitely didn’t have star anise or cinnamon sticks. Motivation was running sky high, so I hopped in the car and drove to our local market that specializes in Middle eastern spices and foods. I grabbed what looked interesting:

  • Cardamom seeds

  • Cinnamon sticks

  • Cumin Seeds

  • Fenugreek

  • Pepitas

  • Dried Currants

  • Curry powder

As soon as I got home I surveyed my new selections and very quickly realized I never got star anise. No biggie, this was going to be my version of Indian food anyway. Anyone who knows Indian food knows that the art of combining and blending spices is as masterful of a skill as being a Sushi Chef. So I wasn’t going to attempt a miracle on the Ganges. I just wanted some spice.

I knew I was going to make rice. That was a no brainer, since it is the basis for most Indian food. But I needed dishes to go with the rice. With my mind rattling off the different options, I came up with a long, and clearly over ambitious list in my zeal for making Indian food.

  1. Dal, a lentil stew

  2. Chana Masala - a chick pea stew

  3. Potato pancakes

  4. String Beans

  5. Cauliflower

In the end, I did accomplish 4 out the 6 machinations (including the rice) that whirled around in my head. The funny part is that one the food items that motivated me to make Indian food, the string beans, never got spiced up and served. I guess they couldn’t take the heat. So get out of the kitchen.

In order to keep this posting manageable, I will post the recipes for each of the other dishes separately in the next weeks. Otherwise, the photos alone will have you scrolling for days. For today, let’s focus on the rice, which quite frankly is where it all began.

Ingredients

3 c basmati rice
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom seeds
2 full T cumin seeds
1/2 c onion, sliced
1/2 c red onion, sliced
2 t salt
2 cloves
4.5 c water
4 T oil
scallions, thinly sliced, optional

I use olive oil for most everything. I don’t like using vegetable oil because it has soy in it. But you can use vegetable, canola or olive oil for this recipe.

Also, I was over ambitious and made 3 cups of rice. For two basic reasons. My husband loves rice like I love pasta. And my sister was coming for her every week trip, and she also loves Indian food. All the more reason to load up on this starchy grain. Make the amount you need and divide the amounts according. However, if it doesn’t divide evenly err on the side of using more.

Instructions

  1. First things first, soak the basmati in water for 15 minutes to take out some of the starch. This helps to make the rice fluffy and not sticky.

You only need enough water to cover the rice.

You only need enough water to cover the rice.

Then measure out all the spices. Since I was making this up as I went, I started out with less cumin seeds and then realized that I was making 3 cups of rice, so increased the amount to what I listed above.

Mise en place, get everything ready and in place. Salt, cardamon seeds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cumin seeds.

Mise en place, get everything ready and in place. Salt, cardamon seeds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cumin seeds.

2. Toast the dried spices in a large pot with oil.

3. Meanwhile, cut up red and yellow onion, then add them to the pot. Let them cook over medium low heat to allow the onions to cook down to right before the caramelized state.

Cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, cloves, cardamon seeds and salt.

Cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, cloves, cardamon seeds and salt.

Onions add a sweet flavor.

Onions add a sweet flavor.

In go the onions to cozy up with the spices.

In go the onions to cozy up with the spices.

Sauté the onions until just lightly browned.

Sauté the onions until just lightly browned.

4. Drain the rice, add it the onion/spice mixture and let the rice get coated with the all the oil, onions and spices. Just as you would making a risotto, or paella. (I like using this method of cooking rice whenever I am adding other ingredients to the cooking stage.)

sauted.rice.jpg

5. Add the water, bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat. (I use a 1 to 1.5 ratio of rice to water.) Cook for 10-12 minutes. The rice should be light and fluffy and no water left.

You can add sliced scallions, or toasted chopped nuts. You could even roast up more of the cumin seeds and add it to the top. Let your mind and tastebuds be playful.

rice.final.jpg

The aromatics of this rice will make you want to spoon it right from the pot into your mouth, skipping the bowl. Which is exactly what JC did. He loves him some rice, and Indian rice at that.

I must admit that I wasn’t sure about how much of the spices to use, but not to be boastful, I was really proud of myself. I feel like I nailed the right amount of spice combo to create a flavorful rice to use as the base for my Dal.

The dinner plate we enjoyed and the lunch sample Lisa did, too.

The dinner plate we enjoyed and the lunch sample Lisa did, too.

Now, I know that anyone who is gifted at making Indian food will have plenty to say about my version. True chefs/cooks of Indian food have a magical hand at spice blending that creates a real depth and flavor adventure. My in-house taste testers and Indian food fans loved it. Getting a pretty dang good, two thumbs up from both JuanCarlos and Jill. Jill thought so much of it that she brought some into work to have one of her co-workers who is from India try it. I must admit I was nervous at the idea. Alas, he wasn’t in the office, so her co-worker, Lisa, got to enjoy a complete lunch. And good for her, because like me she has dietary restrictions. This was gluten free, dairy free and perfect for her.

Once I decided not to be intimidated about staying true to traditional Indian spices laws, I was free to create a dish that was good enough to eat. Try your hand at mixing different spices for your rice. The combinations are endless. If not, try this one. I think you’ll like it. Namaste.

Roasted & Spiced Cabbage Slabs

tacos.jpg

Sometimes plain. Sometimes not.
Sometimes spiced, making it hot.

This little rhyme reminded me of an old commercial for chocolate bars. 
'Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don't.' 

I realized it's exactly the same when adding spices. Sometimes you feel like spicing things up a bit while others times not.  It got me thinking about the last few recipes I posted.  In the category of 'sometimes plain', my recent post for a quick, pull together stir fry didn't utilize any spices. That recipe was all about letting the vegetables do the talking.  In the 'sometimes not' category, my recipe for cauliflower was all about zinging up the veg and making them sing.

Although I'm not feeling like a nut, I am definitely yearning more spice lately.  It could just be 2018, as many things are being spiced up for me this year. My 2017 was a bit bland, but 2018 is shaping up to be banging.

So with that, here's another spiced up idea for slabs of vegetables.  Given the recent slabbing of cauliflower and dousing with spices, the heads of cabbage were destined to meet the same fate.

Normally, my first 3 thoughts for using cabbage are:

  1. Slaw
  2. Soup
  3. Stir fry

On first viewing, I see cabbage and think of slaw. Hence being at the top of the list.  Then soup, then stir fry.  Since slaw is usually cold food/warm weather food- scratch that.  Number two on the list is soup and that completely fits the cold weather/warm food criteria, and was actually my intention when I bought them.  However, I just wasn't feeling soupy. And third on the list was stir fry.  And as you know, of the three cabbages I bought, the Savoy cabbage actually did make it into the stir fry recipe. But now I had two other heads staring back at me.  My need for variety coupled with my recent desire for spice was screaming at me, 'You can't make stir fry again!'   

Which forced me to add #4 to my hit list...

Roast it, baby!

Hey, this is not such a far fetched idea.  I roast everything.  Much like the cauliflower, it was time to heat things up both in temperature and flavor.

Once again, not wanting a big fuss because I had no idea how this would turn out or what I would serve this with, I kept the prep fairly simple.

setup.jpg

Ingredients

1 small purple cabbage, cut in 3/4 - 1" slabs
1 small green cabbage, cut in 3/4 - 1" slabs
1 rounded t each of cayenne, turmeric, paprika
1 t salt
¼ t red pepper flakes
1 heaping T freshly grated ginger
1 heaping T grated garlic
4-5 T olive oil

Instructions

Cut the cabbage in thick slabs and place them on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 T oil.

cabbage.slabs.jpg

In small bowl, mix the cayenne, turmeric and paprika. Then sprinkle the mixture on both sides of the cabbage slabs.

spice.paste.jpg

In another small bowl, grate the ginger and garlic, add the red pepper flakes, salt and oil.  Mix and then brush on each slab.

brush.cabbage2.jpg

Roast in a 425 degree oven until soft in the middle and a little crisp on the edges, turning them to ensure they are well roasted on both sides. 

final.cabbage.jpg

Once they were done I will admit I wasn't sure what I would do with big spicy slabs.  Certainly, they could be served as a side dish with jasmine rice and grilled chicken or fish.  This would be great with Tikka Chicken and a cucumber yogurt sauce. But I didn't have any of that made, so I packed them up and stored them in the fridge.  As the next day dawned, these spiced cabbages solved a lunch dilemma.  I decided they would be the feature in Indian inspired tacos.  I sautéd some spinach and warmed the cabbage. Grilled corn tortillas melting some cheese on them. Then filled them with the vegetables and topping it with sour cream.  Quite the tasty bite.

DP-stirredwlove-ID1.jpg

Cauliflower: Spiced & Roasted

final.cauliflower2.jpg

I'm not sure which came first the cauliflower ideas or the idea to use cauliflower to mark the anniversary of this blog.  If have you been reading this blog from its inception you will recall that I launched the blog with my Faux Creamy Cauliflower Soup recipe, and then ended that year with a Creamy, Cheesy Cauliflower Dip.  Clearly, I like cauliflower and make it during the winter months. I love having that creamy soup on a cool fall or cold winter's day. As you know, I am also a fan of roasting. So the remainder of the time, I roast cauliflower. Just some plain Jane roasted cauliflower. (Poor Jane, we have no idea whether she was plain or not but she sure does get the short end of that stick.)

So instead of plain Jane roasted cauliflower, this time would prove different.  I have spices and I like to use them.  I especially like using turmeric because of its anti-inflammatory benefits.  With my cauliflower's need to not be plain and my need for variety, I opened the spice cabinet. 

I literally just pinched a little of this and a little of that right onto the sheet pan with oil and mixed it all around.  Then smushed (yes, the very technical term for imparting all that flavor onto the vegetable) the cauliflower around making sure the entire surface was covered with the tiny particulars of flavor.  While it was roasting, I decided to make a 'salsa' for a finishing topping. 

ingredients

1 head of cauliflower, sliced in slabs
3 T olive oil

pinches of:
cayenne
paprika
turmeric
salt
black pepper
red pepper flakes

Topping (optional)
1/4 c basil leaves
1/4 c mint leaves
1 medium garlic clove
1/8 t coarse sea salt
1/4 c olive oil

Instructions

As I mentioned, this was as easy as pour the oil on the roasting sheet and then add the spices and mix until you get a pasty mixture. 

Spiced oil mixture.  Basil, mint standing by to become a 'salsa'.

Spiced oil mixture.  Basil, mint standing by to become a 'salsa'.

Cut the cauliflower in slabs so you get a tree like slab. 

Cauliflower 'trees'

Cauliflower 'trees'

Place them on the pan and make sure they are fully coated with the spice mixture. Roast at 425 degrees, turning once to make sure both sides get a good suntan, back and front.  No one wants a tan on the front and a milky white backside. While the cauliflower is roasting, use a mortar and pestle to crush the basil, mint, garlic and salt together to form a paste. Then add the oil to create a salsa like mixture. (You can also use a mini blender.)

Swimming around in spices, these cauliflower slabs are ready for roasting.

Swimming around in spices, these cauliflower slabs are ready for roasting.

final.cauliflower.jpg

I think this side dish would be a nice addition to a Meze platter. A perfect side dish to fish or steak.  Of course, any Indian inspired food would be a natural plate partner.  I served myself a slab alongside some sautéd kale, and garlic mashed potatoes.  I dabbed a bit of the mint/basil oil on top. It gave it more of a kick.  Jill and JC liked the cauliflower all by itself.  I venture to say that if you added yogurt to the basil/mint that the cream and fat content would be a lovely complement to that mixture.  As far as the roasting, this method can lead to a variety of other spice mixes.  Try it with oregano or Chinese Five Spice.  Whatever tickles your spice fancy.