Tikka Masala Made Easy
Three words: Masala. Simmer. Sauce. From Trader Joe’s, that is. I really did have dinner on the table in just over 30 minutes, and I was moving like molasses in January.
I love to cook from scratch, but I have to recognize that there are times when it simply isn’t feasible. When on a budget or trying to eat healthier fare, it’s better to have a few tricks up my sleeve than to dive for the yellow pages when confronted with One Of Those Days.
The Cookbook: The Trader Joe’s Companion, A Portable Cookbook by Deana Gunn & Wona Miniati, Brown Bag Publishers, 2009
Here’s another “Trader Joe’s” cookbook, designed for people who were hauling the larger tome around the grocery store for last-minute meal planning. This cookbook is small enough to fit in your purse or backpack (though I left mine at home in favor of my categorized shopping list).
It contains some repeats of the recipes in Cooking With All Things Trader Joe’s, but there are new gems to be found as well. The authors, again, are focusing on quick, easy, healthy and delicious meals – perfect for weeknight cooking.
Don’t forget to check out the Cooking with Trader Joe’s Web site, featuring recipes, gift basket ideas and a blog.
The Recipe: Vegetable Tikka Masala
Other Menu Items: Brown Rice, Tandoori Naan
Cooking It Up:
All it takes is a 12-oz jar of Masala Simmer Sauce from Trader Joe’s, and assorted vegetables of your choice. I threw in all my remaining roasted root vegetables from earlier in the week (which now leaves me with the somewhat delightful challenge of determining what to do with the extra peanut sauce).
I also had enough leftover brown rice for the two of us. Note to self – since brown rice takes so long to cook, it doesn’t hurt to make extra! Tandoori Naan from TJ’s (freezer section, cooks in 2 minutes), plus some of that lovely pomegranate-goat cheese salad from last night rounded out a delicious, and truly easy, meal.
Vegetable Tikka Masala (adapted from The Trader Joe’s Portable Companion)
Pour 1 15-oz jar Masala Simmer Sauce into a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add some combination of the following: cauliflower florets, zucchini chunks, frozen peas, garbanzo beans (precooked), thinly sliced carrots, diced potatoes, red bell pepper, coarsely chopped onion or, as in my case, 2 cups of leftover roasted root vegetables.
Stir well. Rinse jar with a little water and pour it into your pan. (I couldn’t bear to let the last bits of Masala Sauce go to waste!) Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover pan, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 15 minutes until all the vegetables are just tender.
Now here’s the one small kink in an otherwise perfect dinner (and for me, there is almost always a kink). The recipe says to stir in 1/2 cup plain yogurt, bring to a simmer, and then remove from the heat.
My yogurt curdled. Maybe it was because I thought Greek yogurt, which is dirt-cheap at Trader Joe’s, would be even better than regular. Maybe my mixture was too hot. But instead of a beautifully creamy sauce, I had achieved something not quite as aesthetically pleasing. Luckily it tasted fantastic…but I’ll have to experiment if I ever want to serve it to anyone other than my resident taste-tester-by-default.
Since the sauce is delicious on its own, perhaps the yogurt could be served as a sort of raita instead – mixed with some peeled, diced cucumber and a little mint, and then passed at the table. It would also be a great dipping sauce for the naan.
Cooking is a journey, an art form, and a science experiment rolled into one fun and hopefully delicious package. I can’t take it too seriously, or it ceases to be a source of entertainment (for me, and for those around me).
So I must remember, when the yogurt curdles, how fortunate I am to have food to prepare, a kitchen in which to prepare it, and a wonderful partner to enjoy it with me.
After all, we’re not saving babies here, right?
Until next time,