Sri Lankan Cod Curry + Charred Green Beans

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

Earlier this week dark clouds nipped swiftly across the state — a soggy cold front that left the ground strewn with fallen leaves. How superbly autumn, I found myself thinking.

The days since are warm and bright, but I seize every opportunity, no matter how brief, to savor seasonal, Wisconsin-like temperatures. That includes loading up a menu with cold-weather meals. Welcome back (for now), comfort food.

For you today I have flaky, buttery cod in a creamy, warmly spiced curry sauce + deeply charred green beans dry-fried with lots of onion, ginger and more spices.

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North Indian Rajma (Punjab-Style Kidney Bean Masala Stew)

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

The cuisine of the Northern Indian region of Punjab is often rich and hearty, always bold in every sense: taste, texture, colors, aromas. Rustic yet lavish dishes are cooked in ways that incorporate strong ingredients like onion, ginger and garlic with generous, but precise, amounts of spices to enhance and perfectly balance the flavors.

Among the best-known Punjabi dishes are channa masala, various veg + non-veg versions of tikka korma, and my favoritebaigan bharta. It’s also believed that tandoor cooking, and thus, tandoori chicken, originated here.

Digging deeper, I made a surprisingly excellent discovery — a darkhorse in the vast Indian menu that quickly won our hearts and minds. And stomachs.

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Garam Masala

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

If you’ve seen our herb and spice collection — a full three-level cabinet + overflow in the pantry — you are well aware of my fascination at the limitless possibilities. Curiosity never killed the adventurous cook. (Unless it’s fugu. Don’t eat fugu.)

Originating in the Punjab region of Northern India, garam masala is composed of familiar spices in a blend that may not be established in your kitchen. Yet.

The name literally translates to “hot spices,” but it’s more a deep warmth than fiery heat. Must-haves are cinnamon, black peppercorns, cardamom, nutmeg, and coriander. Ginger, cloves and mace typically find their way in as well. Maybe cumin, caraway, or nigella seed (also called black cumin, or kalonji).

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Chana Dal with Spinach, Cucumber and Pomegranate

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

The vast majority of Indian recipes involve lengthy lists of dried spices, fresh and dried herbs, and other flavor-building bases. These are intense and delicious. Then there are those others, relying on elegant simplicity that, despite employing only a few ingredients, are still complex and immensely satisfying.

Today’s is one of those more simplistic recipes, in time for lighter fare desired for warmer afternoons and evenings. The ingredients can be varied for enjoyment any day of the year, though, and you’ll see some of my recommendations below.

Moong dal

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Fragrant Indian Basmati Rice Pilaf

Eat Well Edibles Recipe

I credit my family’s appreciation for global cuisines to the trip my dad made to India for work about ten years ago. Sure, we grew up eating a variety of Mexican, Chinese and some German foods, but for the most part, everything was as Americanized as it could get. We didn’t truly begin exploring traditional dishes from around the world until the months leading up to his journey. For that, I am grateful.

We covered the world in our kitchen, and Indian was our jumping off point. Spicy chillies, kaffir lime or curry leaves, assertive ginger and turmeric, fresh coconut, earthy cumin and coriander, popped mustard seeds, and fragrant cinnamon and cardamom were all unique and unforgettable new flavors. There were also new breads like naan and roti. New meat dishes like lamb curries and Tandoori chicken. New desserts like gulab jamun and halwa. And new grains like aromatic long-grain Basmati rice.

All these years later, Basmati is a pantry staple for my husband and me, and finds its way onto our table all year round. It’s especially comforting on cold nights like we’ve endured recently. The secret to this fragrant Indian pilaf is frying the spices together with the onion, garlic, chillies and ginger prior to adding the rice, giving it the right amount of heat and a wonderfully complex flavor. The finished dish is warming and satisfying.

Basmati Pilaf_ingredients

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