Monday, 23 February 2009

Veggie Tikka Masala

When I was researching pressure cookers and pressure cooking, it was commonplace for people to say that they owned multiple pressure cookers and/or they used it multiple times per week. I was very leery of this as I really didn't see the point. Now that I've cooked with it a few times, I'm beginning to appreciate these notions.

Apart from the obvious benefit of making food faster, the pressure cooker purports to provide energy savings through reduced cooking time. I'm sure in the 1950s and 1960s when pressure cookers first debuted, "being green" wasn't the big sell. But with the current economic times, it makes you think twice, if not more. And I have to admit, that when I went to grab a pot to make some vegetable curry, I decided to give the pressure cooker a try for this dish as it would be faster for a weeknight, and it seemed silly to have the natural gas cooktop going for an hour or so when I didn't have to.

The latest Jamie Oliver cookbook release in England is his "Ministry of Food" cookbook - as far as I know it hasn't hit the North American market yet. The basic premise is to teach people how to cook by providing some basic recipes and encouraging people to "pass it on" to help others to "eat, and live, better". Although noble, it's not exactly why I bought the book . It was the interesting mix of relatively easy, fast recipes - perfect for a weeknight I figured. And the chapter that really intrigued me was the curry one as it provided short-cuts using Patak's prepared curries, as well as recipes to make curries yourself.

Again, being a weeknight I wanted to opt for a fast recipe and decided to try one of the curry options. I happened to have Patak's Tikka Masala in my pantry (a rare occurrence as I generally am not a buyer of a lot of prepared foods, but Costco had this deal on I couldn't refuse), but my dilemma was that I wanted a vegetarian dish, and not the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe in the book. In a mix and match effort, I decided to use the ingredients from the book's Vegetable Jalfrezi recipe, but substitute the Tikka Masala sauce. Surely, that would work.

I've provided the modified recipe below, so I won't go into the details. Basically I prepared the ingredients in the pressure cooker according to the recipe instructions up to the point where it needs to simmer. From there I put the lid on, brought it up to high pressure (15 psi) and let it cook for 15 minutes. Take that global warming!

Although the dish was tasty, I did confirm something I had been suspecting about pressure cooking. You don’t necessarily have to add as much liquid as a recipe states. You definitely need a minimum of 1/2 cup liquid so that the pot can create the necessary steam and reach pressure, but I find that you may not need as much as indicated. My theory is that when a recipe, such as the non pressure cooker tikka masala one calls for 45 minutes of simmering, there is evaporation happening throughout that time. When you are pressure cooking with a lid, there is minimal steam loss. Hence was the case with the tikka masala, I added the full amount of liquids the recipe called for, and although tasty, a bit more watery than I would prefer. In the recipe below I've removed some of the liquid in the hopes of a better outcome.

Vegetable Tikka Masala
In the spirit of Jamie Oliver's "pass it on" request - here is my modified recipe using a pressure cooker.

1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 dried red chile, ground
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
A small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 jar Patak's Tikka Masala curry paste
1/2 cup water
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the pressure cooker pot to medium-high heat. Add the oil and butter to melt. Add the onions, chile, ginger, garlic and coriander and cook until softened - 5-10 minutes. Add the peppers, carrots, tomatoes, chickpeas, curry paste, water and vinegar. Stir to coat. Put the lid on and bring to pressure. Reduce the heat. Cook for 15 minutes under pressure and let the pressure drop on its own (an extra 10 minutes). Serve over cooked basmati rice.

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