We have a new way of learning more recipes and techniques – every time someone has a mother/father or mother-in-law/father-in-law in town, we swoop down and have them teach us their family’s favorite recipes. So far we have cornered my mother and mother-in-law, Stacie’s dad and a good friend’s Malaysian mother. The recipes are good ol’ home cooking, but they always turn out super delicious. Who needs Culinary School when you can get free lessons from people you know (and love)? Plus, generally our teachers like the idea of passing on their family recipes and it also keeps a bunch of elders engaged while they are visiting from out of town. If you have any family recipes your parents would like to share – send them our way!!
Cooking with these amazing home cooks though, is an interesting process, especially since all of them down play their recipes as “home cooking”, ” very simple food” and all of them are a little amused that we want to learn from them. The next complication is that these very amazing cooks, never measure anything and everyone knows that the process of recording a recipe requires measurements. 🙂 Somehow Stacie and I have come up with a technique for recording their mouth-watering recipes. The vegetable korma below is a classic from my mother-in-law and was recently featured in the San Jose Mercury’s Food Section.
This is a mild curry that the entire family can enjoy with some steamed rice or naan. You can always make it spicer by adding more spices, but for the first time start with what the recipes suggests below, unless you are sure your family can handle it. Our little ones love it and it is an awesome way of getting them to eat more vegetables. You can used frozen mixed vegetables (easy!) or almost any vegetable that is in season and catches your fancy.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
2 serrano chiles, finely minced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
4 green cardamom pods, ground
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 tablespoon garam masala
3 tablespoons raw cashew nuts, ground (or blanched almonds)
2 cups paneer or extra-firm tofu, cubed and pan-fried
2 pounds mixed seasonal vegetables, chopped into uniform small dice
3 cups water
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 cup heavy cream (or coconut milk)
1. Heat oil in a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pot. Add onion and a pinch of salt; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is caramelized, softened and light brown, about 10 minutes.
2. Add chiles, garlic and ginger. Continue cooking about 1 minute. Add tomatoes; continue cooking until they begin to soften and fall apart, 8 to 10 minutes. Add cardamom, cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala and ground cashews; cook 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Add paneer (or tofu), vegetables and water. Stir well, cover pot and bring to a boil. Uncover pot and simmer, cooking until vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Add salt and cream. Heat another 3 to 4 minutes, until warmed through. Taste and adjust seasonings, and serve.