|Naan (left) and chana masala.|
I love having vegetarian friends over for dinner. First, because our vegetarian friends are awesome. Second, because it forces me to think a little outside of the box when I am planning a meal. Indian cuisine is very vegetarian friendly and I had made chana masala with some success in the past, so I decided to build my meal around an Indian theme. The majority of the Indian food that we eat in the U.S. is Punjabi cuisine. Punjab is a very fertile, agricultural state, known as the "Granary of India" or "India's bread-basket". One of the most popular breads is naan. I saw a recipe for naan in Bon Appetit magazine that piqued my interest. So with chana masala and naan on the menu, I chose saag paneer to round things out and provide some greens.
|Naan cooking in my cast iron skillet.|
|Saag paneer (literally spinach cheese)|
The chana masala and the saag paneer utilized many similar ingredients: coriander, cumin, ginger, and chiles. This masala (spice mix) provided similar flavor profiles, but the tomato sauce in the chana masala gave it an acidic spin, whereas the saag paneer utilized paneer (or in this case tofu) and yogurt which mellowed the spice and heat a bit. Both dishes were tasty and I could easily have doubled the chana masala for our dinner party of four. To help with the heat, I made my own raita using whole milk yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, and mint.
|The final product. Amanda brought some delicious green beans!|