When we lived in California, my husband and I were OBSESSED with Indian food. Seriously, I have to type it in all caps because it was not just some fleeting fondness. Our pantry was stocked with all the essentials: multiple kinds of dal, asafoetida, amchur, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, atta and chapati flours, and whatever else I could get my hands on at the Indian grocery store.
We were constantly on the lookout for Indian restaurants, and that didn’t stop once we got to Thailand. We quickly found our favorite vegetarian South Indian place, which happened to be just around the corner from our apartment. I was in heaven with such easy access to perfect iddli, sambar, and dosa.
And then the honeymoon was over. I realized I was tired of Indian food. Fortunately, since we were in Thailand, there were plenty of other options. Then when we moved on to Seoul, good Indian food became harder to come by, which was fine with me.
But the other day, when I was looking for ways to use millet (my new favorite whole grain – if you haven’t tried it yet, you should!), this recipe popped up and I realized I kind of missed those Indian flavors I used to be obsessed with. So I made this, and it was divine. The browned onions give it a subtle sweetness, and the cumin and curry provide that warm, exotic flavor that drew me into the world of Indian cuisine in the first place.
The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t need any exotic ingredients to make it. Although I highly recommend getting your hands on some Madhur Jaffrey books and visiting an Indian grocery store, this would be a good way to ease yourself into Indian cooking.
(adapted from Food and Wine)
1 cup millet
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 serrano chile, finely chopped (plus a few thin slices for garnish) – leave this out if you don’t want any spice or increase it if you love spicy food
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the cumin seeds and onion. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally until the onions are evenly browned (about 20 minutes).
Add the garlic and cook for about 2 more minutes.
Stir in the millet, salt, serrano and water, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the millet is tender.
Remove the cover and stir in the yogurt, curry powder. Cook until thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, then serve garnished with a few slices of serrano.