Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Daily Beans! Madras Curry Red Cowpeas







     Exotic Daily Beans!
     "The Daily Beans" phrase in a literal sense is a daily portion of beans.  Figuratively, "The Daily Beans" phrase can be interpreted as "telling the events of the or spreading gossip."  Gossip and "spilling the beans" go hand in hand.  The spilled beans of today eventually become tomorrow's "has beans!"
     The word of mouth for today is about nice springtime weather and food that gets the body in gear for outdoor activity.  Beans are probably the best choice of food, for getting the body in tune for the spring season.  Beans are loaded with protein and calcium.  These two nutrients are what the body needs when getting in good shape is what counts.  Beans also provide carbohydrates for energy, so the long physical workouts that are necessary for toning up for the pool party season are less tiresome.   
     
     Every chef in India will proudly state that food is medicine.  Spices and herbs are not just flavor additives, they are food that provides many complex nutrients that have an intangible effect on the mind and body.  Many Indian chefs approach cooking food just like preparing a prescription that will improve the health and well being of guests.   
     
     In part, the intangible medicinal effect of herbs and spices depends upon belief.  If somebody believes that their health will benefit from eating a combination of spices, then the belief opens a magical door in the mind that enables mind over matter to happen.  Spices and herbs are capable of creating subconscious intangible responses in the mind that can trigger beneficial physical responses that improve health.  
     The triggered physical health benefit response can be described as a conditioned reflex if prior knowledge about the spices and herbs were applied.  If the flavors are new and have never been experienced before, imagination will possibly take hold and this will create a new intangible response.  This is all just part of the psychology of how certain flavors can stimulate good health, just like medicine.    

     Today's Madras Curry Red Cowpeas recipe is a dairy product tolerant vegetarian entrée.  Madras Curry is a Southern India cooking style, so red chile peppers are usually part of the recipe.  Kashmir Chiles are popular in this region.  Dried Red Kashmiri Chiles have a mild spicy flavor if the seeds are removed.
     Coconut milk is usually part of this recipe and it gives the bean broth a creamy texture.  Coconut milk is optional in today's recipe.  Coconut oil is preferred in the tropics, because without refrigeration, ghee easily turns rancid in extreme heat and humidity.
     When goat milk yogurt (Greek style yogurt) is available, it can be substituted for coconut milk, even though yogurt is associated more with Northern India cooking.  The yogurt does not have to be simmered in the bean broth.  A yogurt garnish can be stirred into the beans after being served.
     A complex mixture of spices and herbs gives this bowl of beans an interesting flavor.  Fresh Curry Leaves, Fenugreek Leaves, Madras Curry Powder, Dried Kashmiri Peppers, Red Cowpeas, Himalayan Black Salt and Coconut Oil can be found in just about any Indian food market.

     Dried Kashmir Peppers:
     Dried kashmiri red chile peppers can be found in Indian markets.  
     Kashmiri chile peppers are mild tasting if the seeds are removed before soaking.  If a medium hot chile pepper flavor is preferred, do not remove the seeds and leave the peppers whole.
     Soak 2 to 3 dried red kashmiri chile peppers (whole or seeded) in a container of water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Drain off the water.
     Trim off the stems.
     Finely mince the peppers.
     Set the peppers aside.  

     Red Cowpeas:  
     This recipe yields 2 to 3 portions!   
     There are a few different colors of cowpeas.  The easiest cowpea variety to find at grocery stores is black eyed peas.  Red Cowpeas are a staple food in India and they are used in many traditional recipes.  Red Cowpeas are usually stocked at Indian food markets.  Red Cowpeas do take a long simmering time to become tender.
     Step 1:  Soak 2 cups of dried red cowpeas in water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Drain off the soaking water and rinse the beans under cold running water.
     Place the beans in a large sauce pot.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth.
     Add enough water to cover the beans with 1" of extra liquid.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of English malt vinegar.  (optional)
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 2:  Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer the beans, till they become tender.  Add water as necessary to keep the beans covered with liquid.
     Step 4:  Remove the lid from the pot.
     Simmer and reduce the liquid, till the level of liquid is slightly lower than the beans and a thin "bean gravy" forms.
     Keep the cowpeas warm over low heat or chill them and reheat them when needed.

     Madras Curry Red Cowpeas:
     This recipe yields 1 portion!
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of whole coriander seeds.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seeds.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds.
     Add 1 pinch of whole fennel seeds.  (optional)
     Pan fry the seeds, till they stop making a popping noise.
     Step 2:  Add 2 cloves of minced garlic.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced shallot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced celery.
     Add 1/2 of a chopped seed green jalapeño pepper.
     Add the reserved minced red Kashmiri Peppers.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.  Try not to let the ingredients brown.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of Madras Curry Powder.  (Yellow Madras Curry Powder is best, because it contains no chile powder.  The chiles should be added by personal taste.)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1 tablespoon of crushed dried fenugreek leaves.
     Briefly sauté for a few seconds, till the herbs and spices become aromatic.
     Step 4:  Add 1/3 cup of chopped imported canned Italian whole plum tomatoes and a proportion of the juices.
     Add 1 3/4 cups of the prepared red cow peas and a proportion of the bean gravy.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1 cup of vegetable broth or coconut milk.
     *The cowpeas in the pictures above were made with no coconut milk.  If coconut milk is added, then do not add ghee (clarified butter) later in the recipe.  
     Step 5:  Mash about 1/3 of the cowpeas in the pot.
     Step 6:  Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of Himalayan Black Salt.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground dried galangal.  (Thai blue ginger)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of ghee.  (Optional.  Do not add if coconut milk was added earlier in the recipe.)
     Step 7:  Gently simmer till the ingredients become very tender and the liquid reduces to a rich bean gravy that has a medium consistency.  Be sure to stir often, so the bean gravy emulsifies and the fat or oil does not separate.
     Step 8:  Adjust the seasoning with sea salt and black pepper if necessary.
     Keep the beans warm over very low heat.

     Fried Curry Leaves:
     Heat a small 6" saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil.
     Add about 15 fresh curry leaves.
     Fry the curry leaves till they become crisp.
     Carefully use a slotted spatula to place the fried curry leaves on a parchment paper lined pan.
     Keep the fried curry leaves warm on a stove top.

     Presentation:
     Cook 1 large portion of steamed rice ahead of time.
     Place the rice on the center of a plate and use a spoon to spread the rice to the border of the plate, to create a rice ring with a shallow well in the center.
     Ladle the Madras Curry Red Cowpeas into the shallow well.
     Garnish with the fried curry leaves, by carefully inserting each leaf semi vertically between the cowpeas and rice.  This will create a wreath visual effect.
     Use 2 spoons to make 1 large quenelle of goat milk yogurt and place the quenelle on the center of the cowpeas.
     Garnish the yogurt with cilantro sprigs or an Italian parsley sprig.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of cayenned pepper or paprika over the yogurt.

     Tasty Indian Madras Curry style Daily Beans!

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