World-renowned chef Madhur Jaffrey’s World of East: Vegetarian Cooking (1981) is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, and I’ve only recently discovered its magic. In my (could stand to be more) humble opinion, Indian food has some of the best vegetarian cuisine the world over.
Given to me by my mom several years ago, this cookbook sat on my bookshelf unused until last year when I got bored cooking Jamie Oliver’s not-so-easily-adapted-to-vegetarianism recipes. I foolishly thought that a vegetarian cookbook published before I was born would somehow lack the nutrition and creativity of a newer cookbook… But that was silly; this cookbook is a treasure.
The book contains more than 400 recipes from Bali, India, Japan, China, and the Middle East, with sections charmingly entitled things like “Little Salads, Appetizers, Snacks & Drinks” to “Condiments, Dips, Chutneys, and Relishes.”
One of my favorite recipes comes from the “Beans and Dried Peas” chapter. I’ve posted my slightly adapted version below. While it’s not the prettiest of dishes, it’s incredibly delicious and healthy, especially when paired with rice to get all of the amino acids. It’s currently cooking in my kitchen– the scent of garam masala is irresistible! lv, molly
P.S. Jaffrey is not only a chef and food-writer, but she’s an actress and has starred in Shakespeare festivals in Berlin– hard not to love this lady.
Red Beans Cooked with Garlic + Ginger
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup small red azuki beans (or red lentils– see note)
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 quarter-sized slices of fresh ginger
1 whole dried hot pepper
1 Tbl. lime or lemon juice
3/4 to 1 tsp. salt
1/3 tsp. garam masala
1/3 heavy cream or less (optional)
3 Tbl. ghee or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper or tandoori masala
*Note: if you use red lentils, this dish cooks much more quickly. Use 2 1/2 cups of water rather than 5, and boil the garlic and ginger with the lentils. With red lentils, this dish takes 40 minutes. Azuki beans have a more complex flavor and are worth a try, but when in a pinch, go for the red lentils to halve the cooking time.
Put the beans and 5 cups of water in a heavy 2 1/2 quart pot, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, and simmer for 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let the beans sit, uncovered, for 1 hour. Add the whole garlic cloves, slices of ginger, and whole red pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover so the lid is slightly ajar, lower heat, and simmer gently for 1 hour.
Mash the garlic cloves against the sides of the pot. Remove and discard the ginger slices and the whole red pepper.
Take 2 cups of the beans and liquid, and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour this paste back into the pot with the beans. Make sure the cream is at room temperature before you add it; otherwise it will curdle. Add the lime juice, salt, garam masala, and cream.
Stir and taste. Leave the beans uncovered over a low flame. Heat the ghee in a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the minced garlic and ginger. Allow to brown slightly. Add the cayenne, stir once, and pour the ghee-spice mixture over the beans. Cover immediately, and turn the heat off.
Serve with brown rice or other whole grains and a side of steamed or sauteed vegetables.
Photo via here.