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Indian food galore

This month we embarked on an extravaganza of Indian cooking! In our quest for journalistic excellence, we used exactly one source for our recipes, the accurately named 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra.

Check out our new foodscapes page for close-up images of some of our favorite ingredients!

Our odyssey began with shopping! Trips to Indian groceries on Devon street in Chicago yielded absolutely every ingredient we needed, no matter how unusual it seemed to us.

One of our finds, about which Stacey was disproportionately enthused, was an 11 pound lump of jaggery.

Jaggery is unrefined sugar from cane, made by boiling the cane until only a thick, moldable substance remains.

It tastes like a slightly more earthy version of brown sugar. We used it to flavor a delicious sonth chutney, a sweet brown paste with mango powder and mint, served with samosas.

We are converts to the delightful samosa - a pastry stuffed with vegetables and fried, then served warm with delicious chutney.
Pieces of dough made of flour, baking powder, salt, oil and crushed ajwain seeds are rolled into circles and cut in half.
The straight edge is moistened with water, and the half-circle is twisted to form a cone.
The samosa is filled with any number of tasty stuffings - this one is potato.
The remaining edges are moistened and pinched to seal.
Then the samosae are deep-fried at 325 degrees, drained and served!

The dish with the slightly unappealing name of Spinach Balls in Green Curry was really quite delicious. Fried dumplings, made of spinach, chickpea flour and potato, were simmered in a minty, mildly spicy sauce. Think marinara and meatballs with no meat or tomatoes.
A variety of spices are mixed with the base ingredients to make the dough for the falafel-esque kofta.
The kofta are deep-fried, and can be set aside until the sauce is prepared for the final dish.

It seems to us that in Indian cooking spices are king!
We decided to make our own vindaloo powder for our vindaloo dish.