For much of my life, I haven’t been what anyone would call an “adventurous eater.” My food palette has been pretty much on the Italian and American side of things. But… thanks entirely to my partner, I adventured out of my comfort zone a bit and happily discovered a love of Indian food during our trip to Europe last year. I used to wrinkle my nose at the very thought of it but now I can’t get enough.
Not only is it delicious, but I know that going into any Indian restaurant, there will be a plethora of vegetarian options. Not just a “choice” of one or two like at most places. (Hello, restaurant industry, it’s 2018.) Instead of letting ourselves go broke or stray too far from our calorie-tracking path, we’ve limited ourselves to having an Indian food outing once a month. There are a ton of restaurants in the Central Ohio area so we won’t run out of options any time soon. (Plus I just created a fun new spread for my BuJo to track the restaurants we visit!)
A few weeks ago we checked out a somewhat local Indian grocer. My partner had been before but this was my first experience. Uh-may-zing. We stocked up on some of our favorites: veggie samosas, paneer pakora, frozen blocks of paneer, a few sauces and spice packs, etc.
Last year for the holidays, I asked for some Indian spices and cookbooks and I’d been waiting to dive into them. We’ve now added making a new Indian recipe once a month to (in theory) balance out the cost of eating out. (Though while you’re still building up an Indian-inspired cupboard, I think there isn’t much price difference.)
So… this brings us to my first actual attempt at said cooking. I like to refer to it as a semi-homemade venture mixed with love… and a healthy dose of, “Oh, what the heck…” My favorite dish is matar paneer (basically peas and cheese cubes in a creamy tomato sauce). By the time we had left the grocery store and gotten home, there was no way a from-scratch meal was going to happen.
After mixing up some jarred butter masala sauce, adding some spices, paneer, and frozen peas, I got something that looked somewhat like matar paneer. Unfortunately I only had almond milk at the time and not cream, so it wasn’t as light as it sometimes is. It at least looked like matar paneer.
The real question, though, did it taste like it? No… not exactly. It wasn’t bad; I definitely still wanted seconds. But.. it just wasn’t the real thing. For a mostly impromptu, “Hey! Let’s make ‘Indian food’!” moment, it hit the spot. And if this is the worst “matar paneer” I ever make, then I’m already starting in a pretty good spot!
Round two will definitely involve a cookbook. And planning. And preferably an adopted Indian grandma to teach me her ways.