Chef Etay Efrat specializes in vegetarian cuisine inspired by the cooking of his family’s hometown, the city of Cochin on India’s west coast.
Ronit spent a day with him working on recipes for our upcoming Whole Spice Cookbook, which is crowdfunding through Dec. 31 at http://www.barnraiser.us/projects/whole-spice-cookbook (more information below the recipes).
The first ingredient is time
Time and patience are the keys to a successful Indian meal, Ronit learned while cooking with Chef Etay.
Patience: Softening the onions takes a good 10 minutes of sautéing, but makes them more flavorful and enhances the rest of the dish.
Time: Assembling all your prepared ingredients in advance in essential — because once you start cooking everything else, it will all be happening fast.
Once the onions were softened, Chef Etay showed Ronit how to pop mustard seeds in a hot pan, quickly adding the onion to keep the seeds from burning.
“I had to listen carefully,” she says: Mustard seeds are the only seeds you can hear pop in the pan, instead of discovering with your nose that they are scorched.
Mastering these techniques, and using the freshest ingredients you can get, will have you turning out great-tasting Indian food at home. Let’s start with chana masala, a traditional vegetarian dish made with chickpeas, onion, tomatoes, mustard seeds and other dried and fresh spices. If you will take the time to prepare it, your patience will be rewarded with a savory meal!