Long ago, before kids and grown up life (and iPhone cameras), I traveled a bit for work. The absolute best trips were to India. It is, by far, one of my most favorite places in the whole world. Yes, the poverty is heartbreaking and the pollution is incredibly sad, but the magic of the country overwhelms the senses. In India, colors are brighter, scents are more fragrant, foods are more delicious, and LIFE abounds.
Before my first trip to India, I had very limited exposure to Indian food. But, I fell in love with it as soon as our plane landed in New Delhi. Here in Chicago, I love love love going out for Indian food, and I enjoy making Indian food at home. I keep a good pantry supply of the necessary staples: cumin, coriander, garam masala, tumeric, fresh ginger. As long as I follow a recipe, homemade Indian food doesn’t intimidate me.
For the times when I want curry in a hurry, I enjoy semi-homemade Indian food. The grocery store has a decent supply of ready-made sauces that work with pretty much any protein or vegetable. My current favorite brand is anything from Maya Kaimal.
I think part of the reason I now enjoy Indian food so much is because it gently reminds me of what life was like before all these kids came along. I am so grateful and happy to be at this stage of my life, but it is so easy to forget who I was and what I loved. Fixing a quick Indian lunch or dinner transports me to a simpler time of my life when jumping on a plane to go halfway around the world required nothing more than a passport, a visa and a suitcase.
Indian Vegetables with Rice and Zucchini-Lime Raita
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or ghee
1 small onion, diced
2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 jar premade Indian sauce
1 cup frozen peas
Naan bread (I usually buy the naan from Trader Joe’s and keep it in the freezer – pop it in the toaster when you want it)
Cook rice according to package directions, but add a bay leaf to the water.
In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and stir til fragrant. Add potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and masala sauce, cover, and cook until potatoes are tender. Stir in peas.
To serve, spoon rice into a bowl and top with vegetables. Add a dollop of zucchini-lime raita (recipe below) and tuck a piece of naan on the side.
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 small zucchini, finely grated and squeezed to reduce moisture
juice from 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
Stir all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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