Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Black Pepper and Honey... in my Yogurt?

Tonight I took charge of dinner trying to make a variation on a curry dish from the Veganomicon. But, I made several hasty substitutions and wound up looking for something raita-like to redeem my experimental dish.

I know, it's kinda ironic to reach for a dairy product to rescue a vegan dish, but it's not like that at all. The Veganimicon recipe was one of the few in my cookbook collection that incorporated swiss chard and I'd just gotten some great looking greens and pearly white stalks from the Byrd House Market. The other two main ingredients were basmati rice and garbanzo beans. I didn't have either, instead electing to go with brown rice and black eye'd peas. From floral and light to earthy and heavy. Whups! The seasoning, toasty cumin seeds and sweet garam masala (begrudgingly purchased form Penzey's), couldn't quite brighten the flavors enough. I needed impactful condiments and garnishes.

Being a big fan of raita's cooling effects on spicy indian food, I decided to whip up something yogurt based to dollop on top of my Indian pilaf (biryani?). Rather than the usual cilantro, cumin, mint combo in my yogurt, here's what I did:

Black Pepper and Honey Yogurt Sauce
(mix it all together and let it sit in the fridge for 10 minutes, adjusting the flavor to make sure that the pepper and the honey are at the forefront)

1 cup yogurt
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or one finely minced clove of garlic)
several cranks of fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste

Even though I had sufficiently made up for my main dish with a kickin' accoutrement, I wasn't satisfied. Karen needed something on that plate that would really be a treat, without any disclaimers or excuses. So, I thought about the sauce and imagined what would go best with a sweet and spicy yogurt sauce. How about crispy fried sausage? We've probably been over this before, but Karen eats meat and I don't, but oddly enough SHE has an insatiable appetite for vegetarian sausage, particularly Morningstar Farms. Today, all I had was Gimme Lean brand*, but it turned out great (meat eaters, substitute breakfast tube sausage, if you must).

I broke off bite-sized pieces of the soft fake meat and dropped them into a well oiled pan, turning them as they browned. Near the end of the cooking, I sprinkled the soysage with garam masala (truly a divine fragrance, if you haven't already had it) and smoked paprika. These little nuggets were perfect with the yogurt sauce all by themselves. I could have skipped the complicated rice and beans and greens. But, I wouldn't be full and filled with valuable nutrients.

*The Gimme Lean link features a great recipe for Southern Style Sausage Biscuits and Gravy. The first restaurant to offer this version will get my brunch money on a regular basis.


  1. That looks like a recipe even I can make, Jason!! Cool.

  2. Togurt tames bold ingredients really well, so you can really toss all kinds of stuff into some curd and see what happens. For two, I made half that recipe, but I didn't have any for leftovers.

  3. Go to a real Indo-Pak grocery for garam masala.. I find Penzey's Euro-spices/herbs to be fine, but Penzey's seems to gringo-ize all the non-Euro spice blends. I got their zataar and their adobo and they have no (shall we say) cojones.. or umph!!


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