Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Legumes in Hiding

Title refers to a book I had and loved when I was a baybee, called Pigs In Hiding.
As you can see, it's about hundreds of thousands of pigs who are playing hide and seek in a house. This is what I have to do with lentils, as well as garbanzo beans, every time we have Indian night.

Like anything else, Indian food is easy if you never bother to learn how to do it right.

I'll explain in a minute.

So the other day I was driving to Kroger in the rain and about killed a pedestrian when I saw out of the corner of my eye that I was about to pass up a new Indian grocery store in town. I made a 180 to go check it out right away.

It's in the same building that used to be a tanning salon called "The Toasted Kitty." Wonder why they closed...?

The place had a whole aisle of ready-to-use spice mixtures in more varieties and combinations than I could ever use in a lifetime.
...Unlike my house.
God knows we need more spices. We actually did just ran out of turmeric [from being clumsy and spilling it everywhere] and it was a catastrophe. (What is going to dye the floor highlighter yellow now?!)

I settled on a box of something called "Kitchen King Masala," hoping that it was vague and powerful sounding enough to be an all-purpose spice mix for the casual, interloping Indian food admirer.
Me gusta los Kitchen Kings! I don't know how long it's going to last on my shelf, because I will be using it by the pound from now on! So good. It must be the turmeric. And fenugreek, what even is that?

So I whipped out an old bag of lentils for din dins.
I love daal about as much as I love anything else on an Indian menu, and it's a really healthy option for getting lots of iron & protein.

The only problem is, Katie has a historic loathing for beans as well as anything bean-related. After all, the great mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras did once say "abhor all beans."
How in the world am I going to feed her lentils?!
Answer: I will hide them.

I started out by boiling lentils and some peeled chopped potatoes in the same pot. They don't have to boil at the same rate, because it's all just going to end up as mush, right?
After 20 minutes I strained them (saving the water), rinsed them in cold water, and threw the lentils, half of the potatoes, and a bit of the water into a blender.

What came out was was a thick, gray paste.
Appetizing, right?

...It is with the help of Kitchen King.

Kitchen King Masala.

I should also mention that I purchased a jar of ghee, the Hindi word for clarified butter.

This jar holds the secret to the deliciosity of Indian cooking. I have just used regular butter in the past, but nothing holds up to the flavor of ghee.

Ghee + heaping amount of spices only Shiva could appreciate = Indian food

Maybe throw in a vegetable or two for substance, but it's not necessary.
I asked the bald orange guy at the counter (he really is orange! I swear! Must be residual spray tan particles in the air) whether I should refrigerate the jar of ghee after I open it.
He gave me that sideways head bobble that Indian people throw out when they want to answer your question with both a yes and a no. "Just put the lid back on and maybe kind of turn it."
Got it. I will turn the shit out of that lid, orange man.
Maybe what he was getting at was that a jar of ghee won't last long enough to go bad.

My food creation:

1. Heat about a 1/4 cup ghee in a large pot. Sautee chopped onions and garlic along with several tablespoons of an Indian spice mixture.
2. Add the reserved water from boiling the lentils, mashed lentil/potato paste, and 2 oz. tomato paste.
3. Stir in the rest of the boiled diced potatoes, and any other vegetables you want. I chose frozen peas and frozen okra.
4. Continuing to heat thoroughly and stir, add more spice as you see fit. Do not skimp on spices.
5. Make rice. I made white rice, which I sprinkled with salt, nutmeg and a couple of whole cloves. (The real Indians do something more delicious to their rice but I can't for the life of me figure out what it is!)

YOM! I wish I had me some naan.


  1. Naan- super easy. Yogurt. Flour. Make dough. Flatten and fry on the stove. Thrown in the oven to cook through as an extra measure. Nom nom nom.

    Fill with veggies or garlic before cooking for a good time. ;-)

  2. your conversation with the orange man totally cracked me up. i'm afraid a jar of ghee would disappear pretty fast in my kitchen, which is why i've never bought it! i'll only be able to hold out for so long, however. is yours gone yet?

  3. No, it's not gone yet! It's soooooooo...good... never trick yourself into thinking regular butter will do the same thing, it doesn't.

    And, thanks jellyfish! I will definitely try that.