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A Recipe Fit For Royalty: Vegetable Korma

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vegetable-kormaI teach cooking classes a couple time a month. I try to come up with a complete and balanced menu that is delicious but easy to make. For last month’s class, I did the chicken malai tikka– I wanted to come up with a vegetable dish people can enjoy. Someone had suggested a navrattan korma- which is a very popular dish in Indian restaurants around here. A korma is a dish with either vegetables or meat cooked in a creamy white sauce. I have never really made a vegetable korma and never really order it at a restaurant either. The reason for not ordering the dish outside is that it is filled with cream and butter. I can’t imagine how many calories are in that small serving!

In my attempt to come up with a healthier version of this dish, I must have looked at hundreds of recipes. I finally came up with the perfect, delicious concoction. In my mind, a korma is creamy, delicate yet full of flavor. I used dry spices to give the dish loads of flavor. The cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamom, cloves and most of all the black cumin give this dish a very delicate aroma and taste. I tend to use black cumin when I am making a white creamy sauce- unlike regular cumin, this variety has a very floral taste- it’s delicate yet full bodied – the flavor is unmistakable! That being said- if you can’t find this spice, regular cumin will be just fine.  Also, any combination of vegetables is great in this dish. I went with a combination with great aesthetic appeal, full of color.  For the white creamy sauce, I decided to use non-fat evaporated milk with a touch of half and half. The evaporated milk gives the dish great body and taste without any of the fat- how clever was that!! The half and half adds just enough richness without going over the top. To finish off the dish, I added chopped raw cashews and golden raisins. The sweetness of the two ingredients goes very well with the mild creamy dish. To take the korma to another level, I added crumbled paneer- it gives the dish great texture. Overall the dish was a big success. My husband loved it! People at the class enjoyed it as well. We at it with fresh homemade rotis and pink lentils cooked with broccoli rabe- recipe to follow soon!!

  • 1 cup green beans, chopped into an inch pieces
  • ½ red pepper, chopped into ½ inch dice
  • 1 cup green peas, frozen
  • 1 large potato, chopped into ½ inch dice
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • ½ cup crumbled paneer (Indian cheese)
  • 4-5 medium shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 inch piece ginger
  • 1 teaspoon black cumin (shahi zeera)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 12 oz can non-fat evaporated milk
  • ½ cup cashews, chopped
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Process the shallots, garlic and ginger into a paste. Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan and add the black cumin, cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and the bay leaf. Saute for 30 seconds and add the shallot paste. Saute on medium heat, stirring constantly for 5-6 minutes. Add the green beans, red pepper, peas and potatoes. Saute for a minute and add the evaporated milk. Add the cashews, raisins, salt, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Cook on high till the mixture comes to a boil. Lower the heat and cover for 10 minutes or till the vegetables are soft and cooked. Take the lid off and increase the heat to evaporate some of the liquid to achieve stew consistency. Add the crumbled paneer and check for seasonings.

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