Cooking with Kylie

By Kylie White, Staff Writer

It’s six o’clock and you’ve just gotten done for the day. Work, classes and club duties are all behind you – except dinner. Oh, that. You should probably cook something, but it’ll take forever, right? Wrong!

Dinner doesn’t have to be a hassle. Here is my recipe for a simple curry. It might not be authentic in any way, shape or form, but I have been told that it tastes good. Bonus points: It’s very easy to prepare. Still nervous? Nonsense! Take a deep breath and let’s get cooking!
But first, let’s talk a little bit about spices.

Spices are a fantastic way to add flavor to meals without adding excess sodium or fat. I personally keep chili powder, curry powder, garam masala, cayenne pepper, cumin, ginger, garlic, cardamom, coriander and paprika in my kitchen. Spices may seem expensive when purchasing, but keep in mind that they will last for a long time when kept in their bottles. Fresh spices, such as garlic and ginger, will last a long time in the fridge, or in the case of garlic, sitting on top of your fridge until you remember it’s there. Whoops.

For this recipe, we will be using curry powder, garam masala, cumin, garlic and ginger. All are great in other types of dishes, too. Now, back to what you’re really here for:

You will need:
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans: Try for low sodium, but don’t worry if you can’t find one. Rinse the beans in cold water to get rid of the sludge and set aside. Don’t eat sludge.
2 teaspoons (tsp) salt, or add to taste: Try to get a feel for how much salt is in a teaspoon; that way you won’t have to waste time measuring it.
1 tsp oil: I use olive or canola oil.
½ of an onion, chopped: I use the big white onions.
2 garlic cloves, minced: An easy way to skin garlic is to smash the clove – use your hand or the flat of a knife – and then remove the pieces of peel. This will also help release the delicious garlic flavor into the dish.
3 tsp fresh ginger, chopped, or 1 tsp powdered ginger: Anyone who has had my cooking knows that ginger is close to my heart, so I always use a lot of it. You can use less if you’d like. As for peeling the fresh ginger – don’t bother. Simply wash it and chop it up.
3/4 tsp cumin: don’t leave it out. Trust me.
3/4 tsp curry powder: Not actually from the curry plant. Curry powder is a mix of spices that can vary by family or where you buy it. Don’t worry though – smell it, and if you like it, use it.
½ tsp garam masala: Another spice mixture, very tasty.
2 tomatoes, chopped: You could also use a can of diced tomatoes to save time. Don’t use tomato sauce, as it has spices and other ingredients added to it. Trust me – it won’t end well.
1 green chili or Jalapeño pepper, chopped: Spiciness in peppers comes from the seeds, so if you don’t like heat, take them out. Make sure to wash your hands after touching the peppers.
Optional: Coconut milk or plain yogurt

Let’s get cooking!
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan or stockpot until hot, then add the garlic, ginger and onions. Let them cook until the onion is soft and you can smell everything, then add the dry spices. This creates the spice paste, the base for the curry. Add in coconut milk or plain yogurt at this time, if you want to make a thicker sauce.
2. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and chili. If using canned tomatoes, make sure to use the liquid from the can. If not, add half a cup to one cup of water to the pot – whatever looks right to you.
3. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes, or until chickpeas are tender, but not mushy. No one likes mushy chickpeas.
4. Serve with rice or couscous and enjoy!

But Kylie, you ask, how can I make this recipe my own? Easy! This is a very simple recipe, meaning there are lots of modifications to be made. Some simple ones would be to use different spices, or to toss in different types of vegetables or some mango. The possibilities are endless!

You can also try looking at cooking blogs for ideas. I like the Kitchn, Bakingdom and Gimme Some Oven. Big sites, like Food.com, are also excellent. Last, but not least, don’t forget to check out the library for recipe ideas. The St. Kate’s library has a great food section in the basement.

And remember: Recipes aren’t set in stone. Do what feels right and you’ll be cooking like a pro in no time!

Kylie can be reached at kyliewhite@stkate.edu.

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