We've been trying to make a tradition out of grilling something, at someone's house, every Sunday this summer. Praying to the Church of Charcoal, if you will. I had a bag of Vadouvan spices staring at me from the shelf, so "tandoori" kebabs were on the menu.
It's kinda misleading to use the word Tandoori in describing these, since a Tandoor is a type of clay oven, and obviously these were getting charred over a pile of briquettes. Although not an impossible stretch since tandoors typically use charcoal as a heat source. But anyway.
The previously mentioned Stuart had played Garden Produce Fairy again and graced us with about 2 pounds of green tomatoes. Those needed to get eaten, so we had some fried green 'maters too, using a secret technique whose how-to I'd pried out of a friendly waitress at the Penguin some weeks back (who shall remain names, lest she lose her job). Bad news for my vegan CLT homies: the fried pickles are NOT vegan.
And then we had this delicious lucky pot:
Bean salad, courtesy of MT. Kid has this uncanny knack for making the mundane surprising - his pasta salad, which I've since tried to replicate, holds a sweet memory in my foodbrain. The kicker here was pickled green beans. Awesome.
Onto the recipes!
As with any kebab, use a mix of your favorite veggies, remembering that the marinade will stick best to wrinkly things (cauliflower and broccoli, ungilled mushrooms, scored zucchini).
Makes 15 skewers.
1 pound mushrooms
1/2 head cauliflower
1 block tofu, frozen, defrosted, squeezed to drain
2 bell peppers
2 medium squash or eggplant
2 cups yogurt
1/4 cup vadouvan or Tandoori spice mix (for a make-it-yourself mix, see here, can't go wrong with eCurry)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt, 1 tablespoon
Mix your marinade and taste. You want a little heat, a fair amount of salt, and a bit of sweet. Add more sugar, red pepper, and salt until it tastes balanced and strong.
In several large plastic bags, separate your veggies. Pour a third of the mixture into each bag, seal well, and squish, gently, to coat your veggies. Put the bags aside at room temperature and let marinate for at least 3 hours (we went to 5 on ours).
As your briquettes are briquette-ing, skewer a piece of each of your veggies on either bamboo or metal skewers, starting and ending with a hearty vegetable (like cauliflower or squash, saving your tofu and peppers for the middle). Careful! The marinade makes things slippery. I punched a couple of tiny holes in my thumb with the sharp end. D'oh.
As soon as you see mostly gray on your charcoal, it's time to grill. Highest heat possible is ideal. If you have concerns about the tofu sticking (which it likes to do) wipe your grill down with olive oil ahead of time. Put your kebabs on and close the grill, letting them cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Keeping the grill covered helps to steam the veggies, so they cook all the way through. Using tongs or a spatula, flip the kebabs, and cook about 3 minutes. Edges should be charred, colors bright.
Serve with a tamarind chutney (recipe below) or another sweet dipping sauce. Yum.
Tamarind dipping sauce:
1/2 cup tamarind puree
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tsp Sriracha (hey, nobody said this was authentic!)
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Mix it all together and heat, either in a non-reactive pan or the microwave, until warm enough to melt the sugar. Taste and adjust salt. Chill.
Fried green tomatoes
I have an irrational desire to capitalize the letters of green and tomatoes. Thanks a lot, Jessica Tandy.
The secret is soaking the freshly sliced 'maters in, basically, Ranch Dressing for a good hour before coating/frying. Buttermilk base, little mayo, herbs and salt (my recipe is here).
1 cup ranch dressing
5 medium or 10 small green tomatoes
1/2 cup fine white cornmeal
1/2 all purpose flour
Dash each: cayenne pepper, black pepper, onion and garlic powder
1 tablespoon freshly minced chives
Vegetable oil, for frying
After your tomatoes have soaked in their ranch batch for a good hour, mix your flours, powders and chives in a large plate pan or plate.
Heat your oil in an iron skillet to medium-high.
As you fry, you're going to lose cornmeal to the oil. Since you'll be doing 4-5 batches, every batch or two, wipe the cornmeal out of you skillet and replace the oil. Otherwise, you'll end up with very burnt taste tomatoes and a kitchen full of smoke.
Shake a little dressing off your tomato round and plunge it into the flour. Press gently to coat one side, then flip and press again. I like to let the tomato sit there until I have a panful ready to fry - so you can cook them all at once.
Gently place each tomato into the oil and fry until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Do not move the tomato, as you'll loose your crust, if you do. Carefully flip by getting all the way under the tomato with your spatula, scraping the crust off the pan if needed. Fry the other side another 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Serve with more Ranch, for dipping. Mmmmm.