Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Indian Stew"

You're probably thinking, "There's no such thing as Indian Stew. You just made that up."  You are correct. But, this is easy and delicious, and deserving of its own title.

Stews weren't meant to be made with precise recipes. (That's how I feel about most food.) For the sake of my readers' sanity, though, I've listed the ingredients so you can reproduce this fragrant and delicious meal. My Indian Stew is a variation of Potato Pea Masala, but I made it into a soup you eat with a spoon and pita bread, rather than the original chunkier dish you eat with a fork. As in much Indian food, the spices are key, because the main ingredients are so simple.  So don't think you'll make it on a meek little dash of chili powder. Embrace the spices! That's what this food is about.

Pitas. You can make them. I made the pitas one day and made this stew the next, to break up the kitchen work. (I also use my Kitchenaid for everything requiring kneading.)  Or you can make your own Indian naan, although I haven't tried that one yet!  Or just get some naan from an Indian food place. Wherever you get it, this stew really needs, craves, warm flat bread of some kind.

Here's a general idea of what you'll need:
  • Potatoes - I used 8-10 baby Yukons
  • Broth - I used some homemade veggie broth from the freezer (I think the beautiful photos on this site drove me to try it!).  I used one freezer bag much is that? A quart maybe?
  • One can of tomato paste/sauce
  • A few cups of frozen peas
  • An abundance of peeled/minced garlic cloves (not powdered stuff).  Since everyone has a different relationship with garlic, I leave it to you to decide how to interpret "an abundance." I love garlic and used probably 4-6 BIG cloves. 
  • Spices: curry, cumin, coriander, chili powder, ginger (powdered or regular), black pepper. Maybe a bit of lemongrass if you have it.
  • Optional: some sort of meat. I used some shredded turkey (also from the freezer), Ground beef or lamb would also work well. (It'd also be perfectly fine without the meat.)

Chop the potatoes into bite-size pieces, 1-2".  (I often use baby potatoes because the skins are so thin and mild, and I don't have to peel them.) Throw the garlic in the water, boil the potatoes until they're cooked through, then drain and set aside in another dish.  Use the same pot to build your broth. Start over low heat with your base broth, whatever you're using. Then pick the garlic cloves out of the potato chunks, add them to the broth, and mash them up good.  Pour in the tomato sauce or paste (diluting the paste, obviously).  Add the spices in layers, tasting as you go, to get the flavor you (and those eating with you) will appreciate the most. Curry is intended to be the dominant feature here, so start with that. It's a warm, distinctive spice that really adds an exotic element to your food.  Ginger also is pretty intrinsic to this great can either use a lot of ginger powder, or grate up some fresh ginger, making sure it has enough time to soften. (I can't remember which I used.)  Coriander seed powder is really important too. Just promise me you won't leave out the spices.

As soon as you have a decent flavor you like, add the potatoes back in.  They need to settle and simmer in that pure spicy goodness.  You can also add your shredded/ground meat now, if you're using it.  Adjust the flavors as you like them...the flavors might change after the other stuff is swimming around in there.  Simmer this on low heat for as long as you like, leaving plenty of time for the potatoes to soak. Add more broth or water if you need, to get the consistency you like.  Throw in the frozen peas shortly before serving, leaving just enough time for them to thaw well.

If pitas aren't an option, this is also fairly palatable over jasmine rice. :) But you should have warm, fresh pitas.

I love food.


  1. This sounds amazing. It's definitely on the menu sometime soon!

  2. Thanks Hannah...let me know how it turns out!

  3. Best honest ending to a post ever, Nikki.

    The best stews really are made with a bit of this and a handful of that.

    What a lovely March recipe (and an even nicer blog!)

    Thanks for all your comments and support of Simple Bites...