Saturday, December 4, 2010

Recipe Time- Indian Stir Fry

Hey everyone,

I thought I'd share a quick, easy and healthy stir-fry recipe I've been messing with. First, a bit of full disclosure about this recipe: it's something I picked up online in an interview with Suvir Saran. In fact I made what was essentially his version of this recipe plus some extra mixed vegetables (as well as Chicken Tika) for a dinner party not too long ago, and everyone enjoyed it. They enjoyed it so much so that there wasn't any left at the end of the evening. Since then I have had the chance to tinker around with the recipe a bit; here's what I came up with:
  • 2 tsp whole cumin
  • 1 tbsp whole brown mustard seed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (sometimes spelled tumeric)
  • 6-12 curry leaves, crushed or torn to release their oils.
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 medium-large zucchini, cubed or sliced into medallions
  • vegetable oil - enough to coat the bottom of the pan

1. Add the oil to your pan and turn your heat to medium.

2. As the oil is heating add the cumin, mustard seed, and curry leaves
and stir-fry them in the pan for a minute or two. Take care not to burn the
3. Next, add the turmeric and allow it to cook for another minute or so, continuing to stir. Cooking the turmeric is an important step because raw turmeric is rather bitter and cooking helps to cut the
bitterness almost completely.

4. Add the ginger, garlic and onions and allow them to cook in the oil,
stirring often, until the the onions start to get soft.

5. Add the zucchini and any other vegetables you may like and add salt
to taste. Increase the heat to high.

6. Stir Fry until the zucchini starts to get soft.

7. Remove from heat and serve immediately.


You may find that you have plenty of oil left over. Oil with lots of flavor, to be more specific. So what to do with the left over oil? You might try cubing some chicken and frying it the remaining oil, or possibly fish or even some hard tofu. But if you go for the tofu I'd recommend pressing it out before frying to remove any excess liquid. You'll get better results that way. Tofu can be dried by simply wrapping a block in paper towels and placing it on a plate. Next place another plate on top of the block and on top of the plate try adding a 16 oz can. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes and enough of the liquid should have drained out to allow for proper frying.

It is important that you use whole spices rather than ground. Why is it important? One word: texture. The problem is that ground spices will make for a very gritty and unpleasant texture whereas the whole spices will actually add a bit of crunch to the dish. Not to mention that whole spices have a lot more flavor than ground spices. Another thing to remember about whole seeds is that they will pop like popcorn if the heat gets too high. Then you'll have a bunch of seeds coated in boiling oil spreading all over your kitchen. And forearms. And clothing......So be careful.

Turmeric is a yellow powder often used as a type of pigment. In fact it is what gives yellow mustard it's bright yellow color. This being the case, please keep in mind that it will stain anything and everything it touches (including your pans!) although it will eventually fade. With this in mind you may want to invest in an apron or just wear clothing that you don't mind getting yellow pigment on.

Curry leaves:
These can be a bit tricky to find, as most neighborhood grocery stores do not carry them. I'd recommend going to your local Indian or Pakistani grocery store to get them. And don't worry if you can't find them. The dish will be fine without them. But seriously, buy the curry leaves if you can. The have an aroma approaching a fresh roasted pepper and add a great dimension to this dish. Very, very nice.

Not sure where the nearest Indian store is? Here's couple on the northwest side of Austin:

Apna Bazaar
STE 133-B 8650 Spicewood Springs Rd.
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 249-0202

KP Indian Grocery
1212 West Parmer Lane,
Austin, TX 78727
(512) 833-6222


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  2. These veggies were amazing as was the Chicken Tika! I mixed them up on my plate and ate them together. Perfect compliments to each other.

  3. Thanks Kari! It's very easy to make too.I made a butternut squash pie not too long ago. Next time we all get together I'll have to make another!