Writing about what feeds me.

Free Solo Indian Quickie

Screen shot 2015-01-14 at 10.49.25 PMI watched a video today of a guy who climbed straight up a mountain face in Mexico without ropes.  It took him just over 3 hours.  I always wondered how people do this kind of thing, so watching this gave me a little insight.  They scale the route first with ropes in order to clear out dirt and branches and scope out weak spots.  Even still, it takes lots of balls.  Or just a complete sense of calm, ease, and confidence.

In the brief 5-minute documentary, he says after messing around on ropes and scouting out the wall for awhile, he was just ready to do it.  Cooking isn’t quite as risky as climbing mountains and possibly dying, but when I have made a dish enough times with the help of a recipe, I’m just ready to go at it solo, free form.

I’m at this point now where I will think of what I want to make or get an idea from ingredients available, and then do a quick Google search for any similar or available recipes.  As you can see from previous posts, I would commonly refer to more than one recipe, borrowing what I want from each or combining concepts or directions.  With my “free solo” cooking though, I’ll use the quick search as an initial scouting stage; it’s my way of “clearing the path.”  I check general measurements, the order of steps, or possible ingredients or variations.

And then, I just GO FOR IT!


TOFU CHANA MASALA (with mushrooms, or whatever veggies you want)

There were leftover chopped red onion, cilantro, limes, and a bit of tomato in the fridge from a “Taco Thursday” dinner with roommates.  They’d been sitting on the communal shelf, neglected, almost ready to be tossed in the compost.  I had a pack of mushrooms available and some grilled tofu from work.  I saw a can of chickpeas in the cupboard and an 8oz can of tomato sauce.  Tofu chana masala only made sense.  

After I ate this I was honestly so happy, satisfied, and proud.  Oh so simple.  Oh so good.

– 1 tsp cumin seeds
– 2 Tbl vegetable oil
– about 1/2 medium (red) onion, chopped
– 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste
[you can get this at an Indian grocery, or just mince up/process some garlic and ginger]
– equivalent of 2 roma tomatoes or other variety, chopped
– 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
– 2 tsp (total) any combo of curry powder, garam masala, cumin, and turmeric
– half package of mushrooms (crimini, bella, white button, etc.), sliced
– 15 oz. can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans
– approx. half package firm tofu, drained, cubed, and then grilled or sauteed
– approx. 1 lime, juiced
– 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
– S & P

– Heat cumin seeds in pan till toasted and fragrant
– Add oil and brown onion, about 5 minutes
– Add ginger/garlic paste and stir, about 1 minute
– Add tomato and continue cooking until consistency starts to become mushy 
IMAG4099– Add spices; I prefer more curry powder, a pinch of garam masala (cause it’s a bit spicy), more cumin if needed, and enough turmeric for color
– At any point, before mixture begins to burn, I go ahead and pour in the tomato sauce.  If I had more tomato and juices, I would omit the tomato sauce and just use water or broth instead.
– Throw in the chickpeas and mushroom and cook until it thickens as desired.
– Add cooked tofu (simply sautee with oil and some S&P in separate pan beforehand) and heat through
– Add lime juice (approx. 2 Tbl or 1 lime, or to taste), season with S & P as desired
– Mix in cilantro (unless you’re weird and don’t like it haha) and serve this yummy goodness with some hot rice!

I did a quick search for “tofu chana masala” and came up with this site, which let me know that other people have cooked this before.  Sometimes I just need to know I’m not alone. =)
I’m so glad I added the mushrooms.


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This entry was posted on January 14, 2015 by in Improvised, Indian, Vegetarian and tagged , , , .
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