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Punjabi Vegetable Tikka Masala

Updated on March 4, 2015
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Jules Corriere is a playwright and theater director, having written over 40 plays, one of them performing at the Kennedy Center in D.C.

Attending the Sikh Service in Edinburgh, Scotland

Jules Corriere and Bliss Brown at a Sikh service in Edinburgh
Jules Corriere and Bliss Brown at a Sikh service in Edinburgh

Indian Food in Scotland?

Not long ago, one of my plays went international. My production of Chicago's "The Whole World Gets Well" featuring a story about American racconteur, Studs Terkel, was invited by the UK Ministry of Health to tour in London and Edinburgh. While in Scotland, I was invited to many different places, including a whiskey plant, an old church from 1412, and a Sikh Temple. I was even invited to the Sikh service, which was spoken only in Punjabi. I was given a beautiful bright orange head covering with gold fringe, because in that religion, the head must be covered at all times once one has entered the temple. The Sikh spiritual leader was carried in, and I was amazed and in awe of the service, and the rituals still in tact after so many years, and across such huge boundaries-- cultural and geographical-- all the way here on this cold, British Island. The men and women are separated at the service. In the Sikh religion, food is always shared after a service, and all are welcome. The meals are vegetarian, in accord with their beliefs. I'd always loved Indian food in the States, but the flavors here were like nothing I'd ever had before. My favorite dish served was Vegetable Tikka Masala. This was served cafeteria style, and it is the best cafeteria food I've ever eaten. After the meal, I was asked to make a presentation about stories, the significance of stories, and of holding on to culturally important stories. I, of course, held this meeting with the group of women. (The men held their own discussion in another room.) The women, when alone, were vibrant and vocal, and spoke of their concerns about what was happening in their culture by living in Scotland, such as the young people no longer wanting to speak Punjabi. They spoke about the different values in the outside community about family, religion, duty, heritage, tradition, and about the difficulties of raising families in these changing and difficult times. They went on to talk about keeping peace among fathers and sons, who are fighting over these issues. I worked with the women to create opportunities for their families and church to hear stories- not sides, and for the members of their families and the church to tell their life stories. The stories from the older generation reflected the importance of their religion and heritage. Stories from the younger ones reflected the difficulty of living in their new community and trying to find work without being fluent in English, not to mention difficulties of being accepted by the outside community due to their traditional clothing and head garb. When the arguments were replaced with personal stories, some very real listening was happening on both sides. Of course, the issues continue, the struggle remains, but it was a small moment when yelling ceased, and a glimmer of understanding shown through, if even for a little while. To this day, I consider my experience working with the Sikh people the most important thing I did while in Scotland. My play being on tour, somehow, has become an afterthought when I reminisce about that tour. And the food I ate at the temple was the best meal I had in Scotland-- Indian food. Go figure. (I do admit, that I did not try the Haggis, while others on tour with me did.) When I got back home, I dabbled in the kitchen several times with this recipe, until i got it to just about the flavor I remembered in Edinburgh. I hope you enjoy it.

Tikka Masala Spices

tikka masala spices including gorham masala, curry, and paprika
tikka masala spices including gorham masala, curry, and paprika

Vegetable Tikka Masala

Ingredients

3 potatoes, cubed

2 carrots, sliced

1/2 cup peas

1 onion, diced (about 1 cup)

2 TBS butter

1 TBS lemon juice

1 tsp fresh minced ginger

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp cumin

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 TBS corn starch

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp to 1 tsp crushed red pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)

1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro

vegetable tikka masala
vegetable tikka masala

Preparation

In a large skillet, melt butter. Add lemon juice, onions, potatoes, carrots and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until vegetables start to become soft. Add all of the spices except crushed red pepper and cilantro. Cook and stir until well mixed, about 1 full minute. Stir in tomatoes. MIx well. Add peas. Cook about 3 minutes. Stir cream into cornstarch and mix well until smooth. Add cream a little at a time, stirring constantly. Add crushed red pepper, if you wish. 1/4 tsp will give it mild spice level. 1/2 tsp will give it a medium to hot spice level. Any more will be hot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5-8 minutes until slightly thickened.

Serve over basmati rice and garnish with cilantro.

Helpful Hints

Cilantro serves to naturally cool the mouth if the dish is too spicy. If you have someone who prefers less heat, offer extra cilantro.

perfect basmati rice
perfect basmati rice

Making the Perfect Basmati Rice

The Secret?

Rinsing and Soaking. When it comes to using Basmati rice, you will have much better reults if you soak the rice for a while, about 20 minutes or so, before you cook it. This helps the rice to expand, and also prevents it from breaking. Just be sure to drain the rice thoroughly, or you will be using much more water when you cook, which will diminish your results.

Use a tight fitting lid.

Be sure to let the rice "rest". This is an important step in the cooking process. After trial after trial of working to make the best pot of perfect rice, I realized I could not just serve it as soon as the timer went off. Give it some time to rest.

Hope These Hints are Helpful!

What Do You Think About Indian Food

Do you Like Indian Food?

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Guestbook - Please let me know what you think

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    • traslochimilano1 profile image

      traslochimilano1 4 years ago

      Like it

    • srsddn lm profile image

      srsddn lm 4 years ago

      One of my favourite Punjabi dishes. I enjoy it every time I go to my favourite places.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      my favorite punjabi dish. thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is a delightful dish! Thanks for the generous serving! :)

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Love everything about this lens - the story, the images, the recipe, and the obvious amount of heart you invested in it. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • cheech1981 profile image

      cheech1981 5 years ago

      love the pics of the spices...the colors are beautiful. and of course tikka masala is awesome too. prefer with chicken but veggie is tasty too. :)

    • profile image

      anilsaini 5 years ago

      love this one

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      sounds really good. Indian food is among my favourites!

    • OrganicMom247 profile image

      OrganicMom247 5 years ago

      Looks very yummy!

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 5 years ago from South Africa

      Okay! YUMMMMMMMY