Friday, December 14, 2007


by Lisa

So my last post was about waiting. Waiting for Thanksgiving. Waiting for Steph and I to write our joint post about our lovely dinner party. (Way overdue by now; we're sorry.) But mostly, waiting for school to be over.

Well, now it's finally here. I. Am. Officially. Done. With. School. Forever. Until grad school, of course. As for the other things we've waited for, certainly Thanksgiving has come and gone. And after this, I'm going to start our joint post. We need to make up for all we owe to you, wonderful friends and readers, for this hiatus in writing.

The last few weeks have been filled with frantic thesis writing, but I've still managed to have some cooking adventures. I just haven't had time to write about it. But now I'm finally free! I wouldn't have expected to feel so overwhelmed by having so much to say about food, but I really do. That is, I really do feel overwhelmed... and of course, I do also have so much to say about food.

Where do I begin?

I could talk about how I ate eight (yes, eight!) of Maria's glorious banana cream pies. Well, they were more like little muffins, not really pies. Whew. But still. Maybe we shouldn't start there. How about this? I got this lovely (lovely!) spice set from India from my wonderful friends Brad and Carla. You can ask my roommates: I did a little dance around the kitchen when I opened the metal container.

I have been working on Indian food since the summer so this was such a treat. Yesterday I made chana masala (garbanzo bean curry) and yes, it tastes so much better when you add in the spices one at a time in whatever proportions your heart desires. Plus it's more fun that way.

Besides Chinese, I'm most often cooking Indian or Mexican. In the kitchen you'll often find me chopping onions, mincing garlic, dicing tomatoes, washing cilantro, using lemons, limes, cumin and other spices. Did you notice what I did? There is quite an overlap in the list of common ingredients! I was surprised, too. Well, a friend asked for my pico de gallo recipe so I've decided to post it, but to be honest, there really isn't a recipe to it. I think you'll like it best if you trust your instincts. (Just don't ever ever ever make it while you're mincing garlic for collard greens and in trying to be efficient and end up mincing garlic for both your pico and your greens because you don't want to have to wash the knife and board twice and then while you're waiting for the burner you accidently drop all your tomatoes in the bowl with too much garlic and then end up bringing your way-too-garlicky salsa to your professor's house for a party. No good, I tell you.)

This is all for now. But there's definitely more to come! Until then, enjoy the recipes. The pico makes a surprisingly Christmasy addition to any party, what with all its red and green. And it's very quick and easy.

Oh, wait! One more thing before the recipes. I wrote a sonnet, for my roommates, about our fridge. Here it is. And then, the recipes.

College Fridge

Our fridge, we find, is never full for long.
We cannot seem to keep ourselves away.
Upon return from school we form a throng
about the cage and hunt for food and play
by thinking ‘bout the matches we can make.
“Do you want ice cream with your apple pie?”
“Or how about some fruit with chocolate cake?”
There always seems to be a large supply
and so we find our joy in making things
that put together what we have inside,
to find surprises in whate’er that brings.
It worked for us until today we cried,
“Oh no! We really cannot go on in this way!”
“We’ve more ideas than food—it’s not okay!”

Chana masala

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium tomato, diced
2-3 tablespoons curry powder or mixed Indian spices (cumin, coriander, clove, chili, fenugreek seeds, ginger, pepper, tumeric, etc.)
2-4 tablespoons of water
salt to taste
cilantro, lemons, tomatoes, onions for garnish

Heat oil on medium heat in skillet. Add onions and saute 5-8 minutes until translucent and fragrant. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add garbanzo beans and saute until heated through. Add tomatoes and some water, cover skillet and lower heat. Allow mixture to cook for another 10-15 minutes, depending on how hungry you are. Garnish with chopped cilantro, slices of lemon, etc. and serve with hot naan or basmati rice. Serves 3 or 4.

Pico de gallo

3 medium-sized tomatoes, diced (I usually use Roma because they are firmer and easier to cut, but any will do)
1/2 white onion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalepeno pepper (sometimes I use serrano if I want it extra spicy)
1 handful of cilantro leaves
1 lime (I like to use Meyer lemons if we have them from our tree)
pinch of kosher sea salt

Basically, it all goes together in a bowl. A few tips: you can seed the jalenpeno if you like it less spicy. After cutting the lime in half, first score it by using a knife to cut an 'x' so that it squeezes more easily. Add salt to taste, but also note that it helps with cut the pungency of the onions and the acidity of the tomatoes. Adjust the proportions to your taste. And it definitely improves upon sitting in the fridge. But it usually doesn't last that long at our place! Serve with tortilla chips.


Stephanie said...

oh the pico. i could eat the pico forever, except sometimes you leave the jalapeno seeds in, and then i cannot eat the pico forever because it feels like burning in my mouth.

Digsy said...

that's what she said.

Digsy said...

just kidding. awesome post lis, i love indian food i suppose you know and i'm really excited that chana masala is so easy to make. finally!