First up from the Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking is sabzi korma, a northern Indian dish with the cumbersome English name "Cauliflower, Eggplant, and Potato in Herb Sauce". I like the big spread of spices involved - that's a good sign in my books. The use of almonds is new to me, but I like where this idea is going.
- 6 tbsp light vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups minced onion (pretty much one medium-large onion exactly)
- 2 tsp minced garlic (about 1 or 2 cloves)
- 2 tbsp grated or crushed fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup ground blanched almonds
- 1 tbsp ground coriander seed
- 1/2 tsp ground fennel (I could only find whole fennel, so I ground my own)
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 cup canned tomato paste
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cauliflower, about 2 lbs, cut into 1.5 inch florets
- 1 small eggplant, about 1/2 lb, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
- 2 medium potatoes, about 1/2 lb, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
- 1 1/2 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds or garam masala
- 2 tsp coarse salt or to taste (oddly, the salt doesn't come up in the recipe)
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (toast sesame seeds in a dry pan until brown)
Following the cookbook exactly:
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and fry, stirring, until browned (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cilantro and almonds, and cook for 2 more minutes.
2. Add the coriander seed, fennel, cayenne, and turmeric and "let sizzle for a few seconds." Add the tomato and paprika, drop the heat to low, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Add the water, cauliflower, eggplant, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat, stir in the garam masala / cumin (and apparently the salt, since the salt isn't mentioned in this recipe?) Let stand, covered, for 30 minutes to let the flavours blend. Top with the sesame seeds.
This is pretty good! It's different from a lot of korma I've had before - it's not as heavily spiced as I was expecting, but the flavours blend really nicely - especially the fennel with the toastiness of the browned onion/sesame seeds/almonds. I'm not sure if the spices have been toned down a bit for the Western market or if it's meant be more delicately flavoured, though it's not bland. There were only two points that weren't entirely clear - what to do with the salt, and what temperature to eat it at - since after 30 minutes of sitting on the stove it's lukewarm at best.