Pea & Herb Stuffed Indian Flatbread (Naan)

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Before you run away in fear from a post about bread, let me reassure you: this recipe couldn’t be simpler.

It doesn’t involve yeast.
You don’t need to knead it.
If you have a grill, you don’t even need to turn on your oven.

On top of all that, it’s mouth-wateringly delicious. Beneath a crisp exterior that has been left slightly charred from the grill flames, the bread is soft and pillowy, perfect for wrapping around skewers of grilled meat and vegetables.

At fist glance, it looks like your ordinary flatbread – generic pita or naan. But tucked inside is an amazing paste of creamy peas, fragrant herbs and spices, and a touch of briny feta cheese.

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One bite and you’ll be hooked. I’m already planning to make them again, and my head is reeling from the possible filling variations – everything from ground almond and raisins to a traditional Italian pesto. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
Still hesitant? What if I told you that, start to finish, this revelation in bread can be made in 90 minutes?
Ok. Fine. If you really don’t want to believe me that this bread is super easy to make – or if you just can’t wait until you have 90 minutes to spare – you can cheat. Make the filling as directed below and stuff it inside a store-bought pita. Spritz with water and grill or broil for 1 to 2 minutes on each side to warm it through.

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Meat Free Friday: Chana Masala (Curried Chickpeas)

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There’s an Indian restaurant around the corner from my house. In addition to having great food, they’re one of the few Indian restaurants in town that have a weekend lunch buffet — and sometimes they even have a coupon for buy one, get one free! Needless to say, we find ourselves there on Saturdays fairly often. All of the options are spectacular, but I always head straight for the chickpeas. They do them a few different way, but whenever I see “the one with the onions” I know I’ve hit the jackpot. This dish is glorious: hearty but not heavy and with the perfect amount of spice to make it noticeably hot without being too much. And the chickpeas — oh, the chickpeas. I’m always jealous of how they get their chickpeas to be so silky smooth.

So, me being me, I decided to try reproducing it at home.

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I searched for a while, but wasn’t able to figure out what exactly this dish is called. So I used a combination of recipes and memory to come up with this recipe. I’m calling it chana masala, which from what I can tell is a broad description that translates to something like “chickpeas in curry sauce.” It isn’t exactly the same as the restaurant’s, but it’s delicious nonetheless. Caramelized onions and tomatoes give the dish a great depth of flavor, and a combination of spices and cream give it a luxurious earthiness.

The trick to getting those velvety chickpeas is to start with dried beans. I have nothing against canned chickpeas. In fact, I use them all the time. But when you really think about the texture of them, they have sort of a grittiness or a sandiness to them. Dried beans take a lot longer to prepare, but the texture is entirely different — they’re soft and plump, with a smooth, creamy center that doesn’t have a trace of grittiness to it. I’ve tried making dried chickpeas a few times before but they’ve never come out quite right. You need to be patient with them. Soak them overnight in lots of water — they’ll plump up to at least double their original size. Then, simmer then slowly for at least an hour until they are tender and creamy.

If you’re in a rush, you can use canned chickpeas and have a delicious dinner in a few minutes. But if you have the time and patience to start with dried beans, you’ll be in for a real treat.

You may find chickpeas being sold under their other name — garbanzo beans.

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Meat-Free Monday: Daring Cooks Indian Dosas

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I was very excited to learn that the Daring Cooks challenge for September had an Indian theme! I love Indian food, but I havn’t posted many Indian recipes. I also haven’t eaten it in a while, so it was a nice treat! I had actually never had dosas before, but these were fabulous and I’ll definitely be making them again! It also wasn’t difficult to make – this took me a total of about an hour, most of which was spent on prep. [….}

Indian Spiced Shrimp, Balsamic Vegetables, and Samosas with Dipping Sauce

Sometimes when its really hot outside, I lose my appetite. This past weekend was the perfect example of that. In addition, I was really tired and just didn’t feel like cooking. This meal was simple to throw together and was perfect for eating at a leisurely pace outside under the stars. [....]