Monthly Archives: September 2009

New India

Aaron and I recently discovered another place in River City (that’s Richmond, VA) to get a great meal for not a lot of money. New India at 5516 Lakeside Ave. in Richmond is probably the best Indian food to be had in the city. ┬áThe lunch buffet is about $8 per person and is available every day except Wednesday. Aaron and I have gone on two different Sundays, and the buffet items have been different both times, with the exception of a few items like pakoras, chicken tikka masala, jasmine rice, warm naan, and a variety of chutneys and sauces (I like the tamarind chutney and raita). Last Sunday, this is what my plate looked like:

A Feast of Flavorful Indian Food!

A Feast of Flavorful Indian Food!

At the bottom left, you see the famous dish of home-made cheese and peas, mattar paneer. This was really spicy and the cheese was mild and lovely. Next to that, you see a dish of various vegetables, including green beans, carrots, and potatoes. This is vegetable korma. On the upper right are three crunchy little vegetable pakoras, which I happily dunked into sweet, tangy tamarind chutney. In the middle of the plate is my favorite (Aaron’s favorite, too) thing on this buffet – the chicken tikka masala. It’s pieces of the most tender chicken EVER in that delicious orangey-red sauce. At the very top is some jasmine rice, though it got a bit washed out in the picture, and on the left is a piece of fresh, warm naan bread. Aaron can’t get enough of that stuff – he uses it to sop up all the yummy sauces and gravies.

Everything on the buffet was piping hot, and the staff never let any of the buffet items run out. Service was excellent. The first time I went here, I went up to the counter to pay (that’s how they do it there) and totally forgot to put a tip on the receipt. And yes, I definitely tip around 10% on buffets, especially since on this occassion our server never let our ice water run out and offered us fresh naan with each buffet plate. Our server didn’t bat an eye. He smiled and said, “Thanks, have a great day.” I realized I’d forgotten the tip halfway through the door, whipped around, and added the tip, apologizing profusely. I was impressed with his ability to remain friendly in the face of what looked like a non-tipper. Personally, I would have been miffed.

If you’re ever in the northside of Richmond and need a tasty, affordable lunch – try this place. Just come pick me up first.

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Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

That little slow cooker I got a couple of weeks ago has been amazing! A couple of nights ago, I made a delicious turkey chili with beans in it. It looked like this:

turkeychili

Bubbly Bowl of Yumness

It consisted of ground turkey breast, tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, onions, green peppers, chili powder, and smoked paprika. I also added some corn kernels – I don’t know if it’s “proper” to put corn into chili (I know a lot of people have strong opinions about whether it’s okay to add beans, too!) but I like the taste and color. When Aaron and I ate our bowls of chili, we added 2% shredded cheddar cheese and some (okay, lots of) reduced-fat sour cream. I sprinkled a few green onions on top for color and crispycrunch.

Mmm... hot chili with cool sour cream.

Mmm... hot chili with cool sour cream.

To make the chili, I made up my own recipe as I went along.

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili Recipe (makes 5-6 servings):

What you need:

  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I like petite diced)
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • splash of Tobasco sauce (to taste)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • reduced-fat sour cream, cheese, diced green onions, tobasco sauce, and/or baked corn chips for serving

How to do it:

  1. Put the tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, frozen corn kernels, and spices into the slow cooker.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, sautee the peppers and onions in the canola oil on medium heat. When the onions are soft, add the ground turkey and continue to cook, breaking the turkey up into small chunks with a spatula or spoon. When the turkey is browned and cooked through, add the turkey, bell pepper, and onion mixture to the crock pot and stir to combine.
  3. Cook the chili on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 8 hours. Season with salt, pepper, and Tobasco to your taste.
  4. Serve the chili hot in bowls with cheese, sour cream, green onions, and corn chips (I used Garden of Eatin’ Black Bean Chips) as you wish.

This was another super cheap slow cooker meal. The turkey was about $3, the bell pepper $0.60, the red onion $0.75, the tomatoes $1, the beans $1, the corn $0.50, and the spices and seasonings maybe $0.50. That brings us to $7.35 for the whole pot. Divided by five servings, that’s $1.47 per serving. Add $1 or so for sour cream, cheese, chips, and green onions, and it’s still only $2.47 per serving. Not bad!

If you have lots of leftovers and are tired of eating this chili the same way every time, you could do what I did and make… nachos!

chilinachos1

Turkey Chili Nachos

To make the nachos, I just spread some baked Black Bean Chips on a foil-lined, cooking spray sprayed baking sheet and preheated my oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. I spooned the leftover chili on top of the chips and topped them with a handful of sharp cheddar cheese made with 2% milk. I baked the nachos in the hot oven until the cheese was melted and the chips were warm. Then I removed the nachos from the oven and happily crunched into them.

Melty cheese, crunchy chips, and spicy chili belong together.

Melty cheese, crunchy chips, and spicy chili belong together.

Brown Rice Sushi

On Thursday, I wanted a quick, light meal to eat before I went to work. Thursday was the first real day of my new job – last week was orientation. So I went to a local supermarket chain called Ukrop’s and started hunting for something suitable. I meandered over to their little sushi section and spotted inside-out sushi rolls with carrot, cucumber, and avocado that were made with short-grain brown rice.

brownricesushi1jpg

I usually prefer to eat brown rice over white rice because it contains nutrients that white rice does not, such as magnesium, fiber, and fatty acids. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_rice#White_rice_comparison) I also really like the nutty flavor and chewy texture. I’d often wondered whether sushi could be made with brown rice, but guessed that it wouldn’t stick together the way that white sushi rice does and assumed it wouldn’t work. So, I was very surprised to see this brown rice sushi! Twelve pieces for $5.49 seemed reasonable enough, so I bought the package and brought it home.

brownricesushi2

I know that supermarket sushi is probably a huge faux-pas for many foodies, but this tasted good! The brown rice was plenty sticky, and I liked its chewiness with the crunch of the vegetables and the butteriness of the avocado. The little black sesame seeds enhanced the nutty taste of the brown rice. The cool sushi calmed my first-day-of-work nerves. This was definitely a healthy tasty cheap lunch.

brownricesushicloseup

Vegetable Curry

Another great way to use up whatever odds and ends are left in the kitchen at the end of the week is a nice big pot of curry! This week, I picked up a jar of Patak’s Hot Curry Paste to make my life a little easier.

Image from amazon.com

Image from amazon.com

And it worked! I chopped up potatoes and carrots and threw them into a hot pot with a little canola oil and sauteed them for a few minutes until they were starting to soften. Then I added several tablespoons of the yummy curry paste and a can of diced tomatoes. I cooked a pot of instant brown rice alongside the big pot of bubbling curry. I added my frozen green beans, frozen corn, and a can of chickpeas. When the potatoes were tender, I added the chopped broccoli florets and a few already-cooked leftover green peas and cooked the curry for another five minutes or so. Then I turned off the heat and added about half a bag of spinach and a bunch of chopped green onions, stirring it all together until the spinach wilted. Aaron and I ate the curry on top of the hot cooked brown rice.

Lots and Lots of Vegetables Curry!

Lots and Lots of Vegetables!

I loved eating this because there were so many different colors, flavors, and textures in the bowl, and it makes me feel good to eat a meal with so many different types of vegetables.

I took this picture shortly before I had the idea of adding a few tablespoons of plain nonfat yogurt and a sprinkle of cashew nuts to the top. The yogurt added a lovely creamy texture and a tangy flavor that matched the flavor of the curry nicely. Be careful when adding yogurt to anything that is hot and bubbly, however. It can curdle!

Extreme Curry Close-up!

Curry Close-up!

The verdict on the Patak’s Curry Paste is a big thumbs up. It is much easier than me attempting to understand the mysteries of Indian spices, and it tastes very good. Previously, I had either tried to season curries on my own, or bought a jar of Patak’s Cooking Sauce. A jar of the cooking sauce costs about $3.50 and contains enough for about 3-4 servings, but a jar of curry paste costs around $4.25 and contains enough for 10 servings. Since I find that the paste is more cost-effective, that is definitely what I will buy from now on.