Known for her cookbooks which make Indian cooking easily accessible for home cooks, Anupy Singla said her mother never taught her to cook.
“She didn’t want me to get stuck in the kitchen like she did,” Singla told me as we chat on the phone about her cooking. So instead Singla, who was born in India but grew up outside of Philadelphia having moved to the U.S. when she was 3, became a journalist working as a business reporter for Bloomberg News in Chicago and a morning reporter for Chicago’s CLTV. So far so good, according to mom.
But the flavors, tastes and lessons she learned from her grandfather when she returned to visit her large family in Punjab, led her to leave journalism and focus on cooking. Singla is still writing though and now has several cookbooks including the recently released updated edition of her best-selling The Indian Slow Cooker: 70 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes (Agate 2018; Amazon price $13.36) as well as Indian For Everyone, which is a compilation of the most popular Indian recipes outside of India. Besides that, her blog with the wonderful name of “Indian As Apple Pie”—because, as she says, her approach to Indian food is from an American point of view--has grown to include a wide selection of spices and spice blends that she makes as well. She also offers Spice/Bollywood Tours of Chicago's Little India.
In other words, her mother’s fears were unfounded.
“It’s great to be in the kitchen, when you own it,” Singla said.
Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes
Slow Cooker Size: 4- Or o- Quart
Cooking Time: 3 Hours on Low
Yield: 7 Cups
“Until I made this myself in the slow cooker, I refused to believe my mother-in-law when she said it was possible,” Singla writes in the introduction to this recipe. “I also wondered why I wouldn’t just make this dish on the stovetop, where it could sit for less time. After trying it once, I realized the answer: because I can now stick it in my slow cooker and go about my day. I don’t think twice about the kids near the stove or anything burning. My father—the real foodie of the family—also wouldn’t believe this dish could be made well in the slow cooker, so he just had to try it himself. He had me on the phone in excitement for half an hour after trying it for the first time.”
1 large head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
1 large potato (russet or yellow), peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
1 medium yellow or red onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium tomato, diced or pureed (optional)
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
3–4 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed, chopped or sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 heaping tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
DIRECTIONS: Put all the ingredients except the cilantro in the slow cooker. Mix well.
Cook on low for 3 hours. Mix once or twice during cooking, especially in the beginning. Eventually the cauliflower will release enough liquid to prevent anything from sticking to the sides of the slow cooker.
Add the cilantro. Mix well but gently so as not to break up the cauliflower. Serve with roti or naan and a side of onion and cucumber salad.
To make this dish in a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker, halve all the ingredients and proceed with the recipe. Cook on low for 3 hours. A half recipe makes 4 cups.
Creamy Turmeric Corn Soup
Slow Cooker Size: 5-quart
Cooking time: 4 hours on high
Yield: 18 cups
Singla notes at the beginning of this recipe that turmeric is a spice she likes to add wherever she can do so without the spice affecting the taste of her non-Indian dishes.
“Blending a tablespoon into this corn soup is a great way to get all the healing properties without altering the light, bright taste of corn,” she says. “Any more and it tastes too earthy. Use nuts like cashews rather than dairy to make it creamy.”
2 ½ pounds frozen yellow corn, defrosted
1 medium potato (any kind), peeled and diced
1 large shallot, minced
½ cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
10 cups water
DIRECTIONS: Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker.
Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove 1 cup of the corn. (Carefully pick out any pieces of the potato and cashews that are removed and put them back into the slow cooker.)
Blend until smooth with an immersion blender or carefully in batches in a blender. Add back the corn you removed. Mix well and serve immediately.
To make this dish in a 3 ½-quart slow cooker, us a 2-pound bag of frozen corn, 2 teaspoons turmeric powder, and 7 cups water. Cut the other ingredients in half and proceed with the recipe, cooking on high for 4 hours. A half recipe makes 11 cups.
The recipes above are reprinted with permission from The Indian Slow Cooker: 70 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes, 2ed by Anupy Singla, Agate Surrey, 2018.