This is the first of an occasional series on cooking in Malden. As a passionate homecook, I am always amazed at the resources this city offers - well-stocked supermarkets, ethnic grocers, butchers, fishmongers, and fresh vegetables and fruit from local farms during the summer.
In each blog post, I will highlight one of my favorite sources for ingredients and let you now how I use them in my kitchen. In Malden Square there are two Indian grocers, Leela Indian American Groceries at 28 Pleasant Street and India Bazaar at 430 Main Street.
Both offer a wide range of Indian spices, dried beans and lentils, and Indian convenience and prepared foods. My kitchen is always stocked with spices from these stores. I particularly like cumin, coriander, tumeric, and garam masala. They are so much more affordable than in the supermarket, which allows me to experiment more freely.
In addition to trying out Indian recipes that I find in cookbooks and online, I also make a blend of spices that I use to give an Indian flavor to other dishes, like pureed soups. (The recipe is below.) My other favorite Indian ingredient is paneer, a firm white cheese that does not melt. Both of the Indian grocers in Malden sell it frozen. Adding paneer can turn a vegetable dish into a quick one-pot dinner:
- Saute an onion in a little oil, add a tablespoon or more of my Indian spice mix and salt to taste, pour in a cup of plain tomato sauce, and simmer.
- Once the tomato sauce is cooked, add a bag of frozen peas.
- Once the peas are cooked, add a block of paneer, cut into cubes. Give the cheese a few minutes to warm through and serve over rice.
Indian Spice Mix:
- 1 tbl coriander seeds
- 1 tbl cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
Crush the cumin and coriander seeds with a mortar and pestle, in a spice grinder, or by putting them in a small plastic bag and crushing them with the back of a spoon. Mix all the ingredients together. This combination is fairly spicy. You might want to try it with 1/4 tsp cayenne the first time.