It’s All About the Food!

by Annalise on December 2, 2009

What’s for Dinner? There are not all that many recipes that I’ve mastered and certainly we have our share of comfort meals like savory Dutch pancakes, sausages with potatoes and veg, and pasta nights.  But, there are a few local recipes that have become favorites in our Nepalese home.

I found them all in one book aptly named the Nepal Cookbook and from our landlady Shubva. She regularly appears at the door with fresh veg that she’s brought to share with us.   When I look at all quizzical, she gently walks through my kitchen and assembles the things I’d need to turn these things in to a dish.  With a smile, she tells me in what order and quantity I should add them.   She’s great!!  While preparing dinner tonight, I thought I should share our favorites.

Cauliflower curry with Potato and Peas
1 med. sized cauliflower
2 potatoes
2 tbsp veg. Oil

¼ tsp cumin seeds (I’ve used cumin powder just as successfully)
1 bay leaf
½ tsp turmeric
¾ tsp salt or to taste
½ tsp fresh ginger, crushed
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 green chilies or ½ tsp ground red chili
½ cup green peas, fresh or frozen
1 tsp gharam masala

Cup up cauliflower and peel and cut potatoes in lengthwise strips.   Heat oil in a large pan and fry the cumin seeds and bay leaf until colour darkens slightly. Add potatoes and fry for 2 minutes.   Add cauliflower, turmeric and salt, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Add ginger, garlic, chilies (or powder), green peas and garam masala. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Chicken Fried Rice
I’ve made this curried chicken without the rice and it is a great meat entree on its own as well

1 ½ cups chicken breast, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp clarified butter (veg oil can substitute if you can’t get the clarified butter or ghee)
1 cardamom pod (I’ve used cardamom powder in place)
3 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, chopped
salt to taste
1/3 tsp tumeric
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, crushed
1 tsp garam masala
if making with rice:
2 cups long grain or basmati rice
2 cups water

Cover rice and allow it to soap while cooking chicken.  Heat the clarified butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat and fry cardamom, cloves and bay leaves until just lightly browning.   Add onion and cook, stirring until onion is golden.  Add chicken, increase heat to high and fry until chicken is golden brown. Add salt, turmeric, garlic, ginger and garam masala.  Cook covered for 20 minutes. Drain the rice and add to chicken.   Fry until the rice is slightly browned. Pour in water, cover, and cook over medium heat for 10 more minutes.   Note, just ignore the rice at the end if you’d like a meat only entree.  That’s become our fav.

Split Black Lentil Dal
1 ½ cups black lentils
4 or 5 cups of water (add more if thinner consistency desired)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, crushed
½ tsp turmeric
6 tbsp clarified butter (veg. oil can substitute if ghee unavailable)
salt to taste
2 dried red chilies
¼ tsp jimbu (like a dried sweet parley or maggi but optional if difficult to find)
2 cloves garlic, minced

Wash lentils thoroughly, removing those that float on the surface, and drain well. Boil water in a saucepan and add drained lentils; bring to a boil again. Add the ginger, turmeric, 3 tbsp clarified butter and salt. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 or 30 minutes until lentils are soft and consistency is similar to porridge. In a small pan, heat the remaining clarified butter and fry the red chilies, jimbu and garlic. Stir in the lentils, mixing well. Serve and enjoy.

These three make the meal.  If you’ve made the chicken on its own, I’d serve the whole lot on steamed rice.  These are a small sampling of some truly fine cooking to be had here and my cooking is quickly humbled each time I go eat at someone else’s home or event, even at a school picnic.  Tomorrow is likely to be no different! We’ve been invited to our host’s nephew’s wedding – a two day event.  Robin will be piping and I’m sure we’ll be eating.   Sarala, Tatwa’s wife has even offered to lend me one of her many saris to wear to the event – must not have the western woman embarrass herself too much by appearing in the wrong apparel.

I’m grateful for the assistance in so many ways.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Shirley Robertson December 4, 2009 at 9:32 am

And what Annalise hasn’t said is that she does these fabulous meals with only a 2 burner countertop cooker to work with, and a very limited supply of pots and other things. She is also being overly modest about her creations. She does simply delicious food.

LeeAnne December 6, 2009 at 7:20 am

Shirley, thanks for the extra notation. Annalise is a true camper at heart.
Annalise, thanks for the lovely recipes – who knows, I may surprise my family with something new for a change :-)

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