Sunday, August 21, 2011

choose your Pakistani adventure

When I first started cooking, I found the structure and preciseness of a recipe to be comforting; everything was under control.  When I started cooking I had nearly no confidence I would ever be more than a mediocre cook, but I figured it was worth a try to expand my cooking skills beyond veggie burgers and ghetto lo mein.

Now that I feel more comfortable in the kitchen and have thoroughly equipped myself with various cooking tools from ordinary to obscure, and done the same with my spice shelf, I find that I enjoy "tweaking" recipes as I make them more than once and adjusting recipes even the first time around if I don't think Mister or I will enjoy the contents otherwise.  I can't even begin to guess how many different ways I've substituted foods for fungus and zucchini for eggplant.

Modular Pakistani Kima is a great recipe, then, at this point in my life.  There are a few "modular" recipes from The Urban Vegan and I believe more are forthcoming when Celebrate Vegan makes its way into bookstores and homes everywhere this fall.

This recipe is kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book.  I loved those when I was growing up, especially when I would stick my thumb in the last decision point so I could go back if my choice ended in death.  If you think about it, it's kind of twisted that they would have a series of children's books where if you made the "wrong" decision, you died.  I mean, the books were written in second person, so there's no getting around the fact that whatever happens, happens to "you."

Anyway, morbid children's books aside, there really isn't a choice you can make with this curry that would end badly, so it's pretty safe decision-making and sometimes we need that.

In the past, I've made this with kale, carrots, and white beans as my "choices," amidst a curry that always includes crushed tomatoes, diced potatoes, and a metric ton of curry powder - but even with the curry powder you must make a choice.  Dynise suggests 3-5 tablespoons of curry powder, stating that she goes with "the full monty," all 5 Tbsp.  I did that once and found it a little bit overwhelming, despite my love of Frontier brand curry powder, so this time I went with three.  It was fine, but I think next time we'll do 4 - it's my lucky number and a fine middle ground.

This time, I decided to use up the bag of chopped kale in my fridge (did you know the very back of my fridge - maybe yours, too - gets cold enough to make ice form on kale?  that's what I learned today), as well as the TVP that was taking up too much room in a cabinet, and I had every intention of adding green peas...until I realized what a huge amount just the kale, potatoes, and TVP, with crushed tomatoes and a cup of broth made.  Looking back, I don't think they would have contributed to the taste profile I was setting up, either.

It came out really well.  Mister and I were quite pleased and Mister had a second helping, even though I really heaped it on for the first.  Since curries usually taste even better the following day, I'm already looking forward to eating lunch tomorrow!  Speaking of tomorrow, it's going to be kind of a big day, so cross your fingers and hold your breath because we've got a Secret Reveal coming very, very soon!

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