Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekly Menu with recipes and a story!

I'm writing this week's menu while drinking the chai that Cara posted as her farewell before her trip to India.

This weekend, I took a trip to our local spice shop here in Des Moines, Allspice,  to invest in the star anise, whole nutmeg and green cardamom pods.  If you like chai try this homemade version, it's delicious.  The recipe allows you to add your own sweetener to taste, it's much less sweet than the kind you'd get from Starbucks (I think they use Oregon Chai-- which is good, it's just SUPER sweet) and you can really enjoy the spices in this mix.

In honor of Cara's trip to India, you'll see some exciting menu items this week.  When Ryan and I lived in NYC, we became very fond of Indian cuisine.  From the string of cheap prix fix Indian joints on 6th street in the East Village, to our beloved Roti Roll Bombay Frankie, we were never wanting for perfect naan, spicy curries and khormas, or  those little fennel seed candies. When people ask me if I miss New York, I usually say "What I really miss are my friends. And the FOOD."

This guy is making a roti roll. It's an Indian flatbread filled with spicy potato and pea mixture and some kind of magic green sauce. It's the best thing ever.  We will recreate it someday.

YUM! We need to get back to NYC again soon....

When we moved back to Iowa, I was legitimately worried about how we'd get our Indian food fix.  In the early days of our Des Moines residency, we tried all of the Indian restaurants in Des Moines and Ames (I think at the time was a total of 4 or 5).  Unfortunately, and I am still mourning this, Taste of India/India Grill was the clear favorite and it closed last year in spite of our regular patronage.  Sob!

Our resolve was to start experimenting with Indian recipes ourselves.  This is where it gets tricky.  The tricky part isn't going to the Indian grocery and searching for spices you'd not heard of until cracking open an Indian cookbook, that is the fun part!  The hard part for Ryan and I was that it's damn hard to replicate a restaurant dish. When you get used to something, it's disappointing when it can't be recreated. I don't know about you, but it can be really disappointing to prep, cook, use every pot in the house, and then take an unsatisfying first bite.  Because of that we don't make Indian food very often.  However, we are getting better at finding recipes that work for us. We got a new cookbook and this one has led us to some tasty dishes... you'll see some below. 

I can't wait to hear about Cara's adventures in India and the real deal Indian food.

Here's what we'll be making this week in Des Moines, Iowa...

Dum Alu (fried whole potatoes in tomato sauce) with Sabut Masoor Dal Amti (sweet and sour lentils) and naan.  All recipes from From Mom With Love by Pushpa Bhargava.

Fish Tacos from Food Network Magazine.

The Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burrito will make a reappearance. Man, that was good! Did anyone else try it?

Ravioli with Veggie Sausage and Tomato Sauce.
Iowans: Hy-Vee has a good frozen cheese ravioli.

Chicken, Pasta and Squash Bake.

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