Aloo Masala, an Adventure in Indian Cuisine

After a particularly stressful day, I needed comfort.  Not the kind brought to you by a large pizza eaten all in one sitting.  I wanted the comfort from a hearty, soulful food present in some form in nearly every cuisine.  I needed the potato.  The next question on my mind is how will I cook this potato? Simply baked? No, too bland.  Potato salad? No, too cold. Potato soup? Nope, none of the right ingredients and I’m not willing to put on shoes to go to the store.  I open my spice cabinet, I see garam masala, ground coriander, and turmeric.

Could it be? I google aloo curry, shamed at myself for not fully remembering the Indian name of the dish despite seeing it numerous times at restaurants.  I have (most of) it! Thanks to Swasthi  at Indian Healthy Recipes!  A couple of substitutions later (no tomatoes, sub chicken stock; no ginger garlic paste, sub minced ginger and minced garlic) and viola! Dinner was on its way.

I sat thinking about what I could complement the dish with, rice was a given, especially since I got Brown Basmati rice on my last grocery trip.  I began looking to see if either naan or roti were simply enough to be made quickly.  Roti won this time.  They are both flatbreads, naan requires leavening, meanwhile roti is unleavened and can be cooked in a skillet.  I followed the instructions to the best of my abilities.  I experimented cooking on skillets and then under the broiler in my oven. The broiler worked best in my opinion.  I think I need more practice because my product was, frankly, chewy and sad.  Maybe I didn’t knead it long enough?  I topped it with a butter-salt-garlic mixture that made it much more appealing.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know what I was doing for most of the time I was doing it, but that’s the adventure in cooking. I’m not fit to open a restaurant full of Indian comfort foods, but this hit the spot for tonight’s craving!

Leaving the skin on the potatoes increases the nutrient content of the dish.  Many of the spices used have been suggested to have antioxidant/anti-inflammatory components to alleviate and maybe even prevent certain chronic diseases. Since I left the skins on the potatoes, used brown rice, and whole wheat flour, this dish is remarkably high in fiber!

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Park Cafe

This has become one of my favorite restaurants.  I will admit they have a limited menu, but those in the restaurant business will know that this can often be an indicator of high quality products.  I decided to try their seasonal toast which was smashed peas and ricotta.  It was topped with arugula, watermelon radishes and honey. In addition, I got their london fog (Earle Grey Tea with vanilla and cream) which was topped with a homemade lavender marshmallow.

Indaco

On my third adventure to Indaco I ordered straight from the menu for the first time.  I ordered the Gemelli Al Telefono.  It was a good vegetarian option from their pasta choices.  I will say I found it to be high quality, but a little bland.  Additionally, I expected the burrata to be whole, whereas it was stirred into the final product.  In the end I believe it was a great dish, but best suited for a picky eater.

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The Obstinate Daughter

I returned to the Obstinate Daughter because I wanted to have a taste of their pizza.  During a previous visit, my friends bought the pizza and talked about the crunchy crust and good flavor.  I ordered the Moultrie which was basically a fancy pepperoni pizza.  It had shiitake mushrooms from Mepkin Abbey, the monastery in Moncks Corner, fresh mozzarella and parmesan, with high quality pepperoni pieces.  The crust was crunchy and deliciously charred.  The crust was thin with a good ratio of toppings to sauce.  The mushrooms were cut very small and cooked very well so they had a different texture than the typical mushroom encountered in food.  Sorry for the low quality picture lol.IMG_8849

Early Bird Diner

I had the pleasure of ordering the Corn Cake Benedict with a cup of King Bean Coffee for my breakfast.  The corn cakes had a flavor similar to hushpuppies and provided ample flavor for the eggs and bacon.  I highly recommend their hollandaise sauce with the dish over the salsa they offered.  I am totally for salsa at breakfast, but I am not too sure if it would pair well with the rest of that specific meal.  The eggs were cooked to perfection so their runny center added to the sauciness of the meal.  Their bacon was crisp and thick.  The fruit was wonderful and fresh.  They had a better variety than the typical melons and grapes that you get most places.  Their fruit bowl included some granny smith apple, orange, grapes, blueberries, and pineapple.  The coffee was remarkably smooth.

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The Obstinate Daugher

This weekend I ventured out to Sullivan’s Island looking for a new find outside of my normal downtown Charleston scene and I was far from disappointed.  I had vigilantly been watching the Obstinate Daughter’s Instagram posts since arriving in Charleston, and I finally  decided to set out and try it!  I ordered their Shrimp Roll with Geechie Fries!  Totally a new experience. For those who do not know, Geechie fries are fried grits! They were super rich and I honestly wasn’t even able to finish all four that were served to me.  The only con is they soak up more grease than your typical fry, or at least you notice it more. The roll for the shrimp was soft on the inside, yet crisp on the outside, the dressing was flavorful, but not overly full of mayonnaise.  The celery leaves provided a nice texture difference from the rest of the roll.  Not pictured is the fabulous gelato I got from their store below the restaurant.  In the words of the friend who accompanied me “this is the first time I’ve bought expensive ice cream and actually thought it was worth it.”

I recommend trying their Sea Salt and Olive Oil gelato if it is available, it tasted fabulous despite being an unusual flavor.

IMG_8642For more information check out their website at http://www.theobstinatedaughter.com

Three Little Birds Cafe

This past weekend I decided to try Three Little Birds in the Avondale area right outside of Charleston!  I love this breakfast/brunch places, it has creative decorations and a really cool laid back vibe.  They have local artists’ work for sale in all corners of the restaurant in addition to patrons’ drawings from their brown paper table coverings.  Each coffee mug is different, adding to the charm of the small restaurant.  I decided to venture from my normal veggie-heavy ways and try their smoked salmon goat cheese omelet with home fries. The proportion of egg to filling was better than I anticipated and I never encountered a bit that didn’t have some of each ingredient in it.  The cheese tasted fresh and light, the salmon, though slightly more salty than smoky was a great pairing.  The spices used on the potatoes provide lots of flavor and a little spice, perfect to set off the flavors of the omelet.IMG_8634For more information check out their website at http://www.threelittlebirdscafe.com

Charleston Restaurant Week at Indaco

I enjoyed a three course meal for $35 on their warm sealed-in porch! I started off the meal with fresh buratta cheese, topped with pistachios, served with a veggie slaw with olives, and lavash.  My next course was mezzaluna pasta with duck confit, pickled apples, hazelnuts, and mushrooms.  My final course was hazelnut gelati. All dishes were served quickly and were fresh! The burratta was fabulous and adventurous.  The pickled apples provided a crisp bite to what would have been a heavy dish, and the gelati was smooth and creamy.  All were in serving sizes that, thankfully, allowed me to eat every bite!

For further information check out their website at http://indacocharleston.com

Gnome Cafe

Just another day venturing into Charleston’s vegetarian/vegan food scene! Today I decided to try lunch at Gnome Cafe!  I ordered their pad thai salad which was made with spiralized vegetables, peppers, almonds, broccoli and other crunchy toppings, half an avocado, and an impressive vegan coconut lime almond dressing that absolutely made the entire salad.

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For further info check out their website at http://www.gnomecafe.com