Indian Delights

Rogan Josh and Saag Aloo
(Lamb Stew and Spinach with Potatoes)

Over the summer I bought some lamb from Sheepy Hollow at Native Oaks Farm when I was at the Midtown Farmer’s Market.  Last week I finally got around to using it.  And now I am finally typing up the recipes.  These are gluten-free and dairy-free versions of two classic Indian dishes.  I served them with basmati rice.

Rogan Josh

adapted from recipes found in Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking (1982), Good Cooking from India by Shahnaz Mehta with Joan Bravo Korenblit (1981), and on the jar of Rogan Josh spice blend from Penzey’s Spices.

Rogan Josh is a popular lamb dish from Northern India/Persia/Kashmir.

This recipe makes 6-8 servings; can be halved.


  • 2 lb. lamb shoulder or stew beef, cut into small cubes (1/2″-3/4″)
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2″ piece of ginger root, peeled & grated
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-4 Tablespoons Rogan Josh seasoning (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-1 cup water (see note)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (see note)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut manna (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven (or other large pan that can go from stovetop to oven) over medium-high heat. Brown the lamb in 1 Tablespoon of the oil.  Remove the meat.
  3. Add 1 Tablespoon oil to the pan.  Add onions and sauté for several minutes, until transparent.
  4. Add Rogan Josh seasoning, salt, ginger, and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Return meat to pan. Slowly blend in water, coconut milk, and coconut manna.  Bring to a simmer.
  6. Cover and place in the pre-heated oven.  Cook for 1-2 hours or until very tender.  Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary.


  • Rogan Josh seasoning is a blend of paprika, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and saffron.  I buy mine at Penzey’s Spices.  Feel free to create your own blend from a combination of these spices.
  • The original recipe used yogurt instead of coconut milk & coconut manna.  This recipe is a dairy-free version.  I use Nutiva Coconut Manna™.
  • You may want start with a smaller amount of water and add more later if needed.  If the sauce seems too thin after cooking, you can always thicken it a bit before serving.  Simply return the pan to the stovetop and stir in 1-2 Tablespoons of flour mixed with 2-3 Tablespoons of cold water. (I use a gluten-free flour blend, but any standard “thickener” will do (arrowroot starch, corn starch, etc.).  Heat & stir until thickened.

While the Rogan Josh is in the oven, prepare the Saag Aloo.

Saag Aloo

(Indian Spinach and Potatoes)

adapted from recipes found in Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking (1982), Good Cooking from India by Shahnaz Mehta with Joan Bravo Korenblit (1981), and the local coop sale flyer

Serves 4-5

  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen spinach
  • 1 pound potatoes
  • 4 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2-1 fresh jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons water


  1. If using fresh spinach, chop roughly, then sauté in a bit of oil until wilted.  If using frozen spinach, thaw and drain using a sieve or by squeezing in your hand to remove most of the water; then heat in microwave or sauté pan.
  2.  In a medium-sized pot bring 1-2 quarts of salted water to a boil.  Peel and cut the potatoes into bite-sized chunks; add them to the boiling water and cook for about 7 minutes.  (You’re just parboiling them; they will cook more in the skillet.) Remove them from the heat, drain, and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and pepper and sauté for a few minutes until limp.  Add the parboiled potatoes and fry for about 8-12 minutes or until they begin to brown.  Turn down the heat;   Add the garlic and spices; sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.  Add the spinach, lime/lemon juice and water; cook, stirring frequently, until all is combined and hot. Serve hot.

©2012 Lucinda DeWitt


GF Carrot Cake Bake-Off

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Bake-off

March 30, 2012

Apparently when I’m feeling a bit down, I cook.  Seem to be doing alot of it lately.  A few days ago I needed some dessert and couldn’t decide between two GF carrot cake recipes.  SO, I made two 9″ round cakes, one of “The Best Carrot Cake” from Beth Hillson’s Gluten-free Makeovers, the other from Annalise Roberts’ Gluten-Free Baking Classics .  I calculated a half-batch of each recipe, baked them both at the same time, and then compared them both with and without a basic powdered sugar frosting.


Unfortunately for those wanting recipes, I didn’t make enough changes to the original recipes to feel justified in posting them here.  Both cookbooks were readily available at my public library (though I now own Roberts’ book and will probably buy HIllson’s soon as well).

For now I will try to describe the recipes in enough detail for you to know whether you would like to pursue them . . . trust me, they bake up good enough for non-GF-folks to eat!

Hillson’s recipe uses a flour blend of sorghum, rice flour, and tapioca flour combined with relatively small amounts of gum, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, & cloves.  These dry ingredients are combined with sugar, oil, and eggs.  Grated carrots, crushed pineapple, raisins and walnuts are then stirred in.

Roberts’ recipe uses her Brown Rice Flour Blend (super-fine brown rice flour, potato starch, & tapioca starch); somewhat larger amounts (compared to Hillson) of gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.  These dry ingredients are combined with sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Grated carrots, walnuts, and coconut are then stirred in.

The only modifications I made to the recipes were:

  • guar gum instead of xanthan gum
  • rehydrated unsweetened coconut instead of sweetened
  • reduced the amount of pineapple juice to adjust for moisture introduced by the extra 1/2 egg (half of 3 eggs became 2 eggs 🙂  )
  • baked for an extra 7 minutes because the centers were not firm after the listed baking times

I used my Farberware non-stick cake pans greased and lined with parchment circles.  I also used my Velcro insulated pan wraps (which keep cakes from doming and worked equally well with these GF cakes as they did with regular cakes).  In the picture above, the cake in the front-left is Hillson’s and the one in the back-right is Roberts’.

After tasting each of the cakes to make sure they were edible and compatible with each other, I stacked them and frosted with my Non-Dairy Coconut Powdered Sugar Frosting. (rather tricky after you’ve already cut into the cakes!)

Non-Dairy Coconut Powdered Sugar Frosting

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum Organics Palm Oil Shortening)
  • 2 Tbls Coconut Manna (I use Nutiva brand)
  • 2-3 cups confectioners sugar; sifted if lumpy
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • dashes of lemon juice or water or “milk” substitute as needed to thin the frosting
  1. Beat the shortening and coconut manna until light and fluffy.  Add extracts and beat again.
  2. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar and mix at low-medium speed until combined.
  3. Add liquid, one teaspoon at a time, to thin the frosting enough to use.

Note: The coconut manna provides some richness to make up for not using the butter and cream cheese that would be in the traditional version of my powdered sugar frosting.


  • The recipe in Hillson’s book is VERY different from one you might find posted online ( ).  I haven’t tested the online version.
  • Roberts’ recipe has been posted here
  • Overall, I preferred the texture and taste of Hillman’s recipe (lower cake in photo below) over Roberts’ (upper cake in photo below).  Hillman’s was sweeter, moister, and spicier. Hillman’s recipe does not rise as much as Roberts (due to smaller amounts of leavening), so next time I would use Hillman’s recipe, but substitute the baking powder and baking soda amounts from Roberts’.  I might also be tempted to toss in the unsweetened coconut as well. 🙂  Roberts’ cake tasted more like what I think of as “carrot/spice cake from a box”.  Edible, even tasty, just not as rich as I wanted in a carrot cake.


High Fiber GF Bread Made by Hand

I’ve just added this recipe to the “Bread Diary” but I’m also giving it its own post because it proves that you do not need a stand mixer OR bread machine to bake GF bread.  My stand mixer broke on the last batch of GF bread dough (and I’ve never owned a bread machine) so I decided to throw caution to the wind and see how it would work to mix the dough by hand.  I think one of the keys is that you need to allow the “gums” time to absorb moisture.  In most recipes this is accomplished by mixing/kneading the dough (using a machine) for 5-10 minutes.  I don’t have the strength to mix that long by hand, but gradually adding the ingredients and then mixing and waiting a bit and mixing some more seemed to work!

Baked on March 13, 2012
High Fiber Bread—gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free

adapted from
Beth and Jen’s High Fiber Bread [p. 36 in Gluten-Free Makeovers by Beth Hillson (2011, DaCapo/LifeLong/Perseus Book Group, Cambridge, MA)]

I only recently discovered amaranth and have yet to try baking with amaranth flour . . . this bread is my first attempt. It definitely has that distinctive “amaranth odor/taste” combined with the equally distinctive “teff odor/taste”. Certainly hearty, like a good whole wheat bread.

The original recipe says: “Makes One 2-pound loaf or 16 slices” which is a bit confusing because it also says to use an 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ loaf pan (which is usually thought of as a 1 pound loaf pan). One more of the many confusing aspects of GF baking. I was tempted to use my 10″x5″ loaf pan, but followed the directions and was glad I did.

The ingredients were given in cups and grams. Due to all the substituting I was doing, I used the weights (because the same quantity of a different flour will weigh a different amount, it is generally recommended to use weight rather than volume, especially when substituting) . . . but took note of the volumes that resulted and listed them as well.

The final complication came from no longer having a stand mixer (broke it making the previous loaf of thick gluten-free bread batter) . . . SO, I went back to my old knowledge of mixing bread dough by hand and added a bit of gluten-free common sense (e.g., you do NOT want to try to “knead” GF “dough” by hand . . . much too sticky!). Here’s what I did:

Equipment you will need:

  • 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ loaf pan
  • several mixing bowls of various sizes
  • a VERY sturdy wooden spoon or “Danish Dough Whisk”

Sturdy Bowl and Dough Whisk


  • 1/3 cup millet flour (54 grams)
  • 2/3 cup amaranth flour (65 grams)
  • 1/3 cup teff flour (48 grams)
  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour (80 grams)
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch (65 grams)
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour (70 grams)
  • 3-1/2 tsp guar gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 Tbls brown sugar, packed, divided (46 grams)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tbls vegetable oil
  • 1-1/8 cups warm water (110°F), divided
  • 2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast


  1. Lightly oil an 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ sandwich loaf pan.
  2. Measure/weigh the six “flours” (first 6 ingredients) and combine in a medium bowl. Add guar gum, salt, and cream of tartar. Stir/whisk to mix. Measure the brown sugar, reserving 1 tsp in a small bowl for use in proofing the yeast. Sprinkle the rest of the brown sugar 2-2/3 Tbls) over the other dry ingredients.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm water over the brown sugar in the small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the sugar water. Stir to dissolve. Allow to rest for 10 minutes or until foamy. Reserve the remaining 5/8 cup water.
  4. Lightly beat the eggs and oil in a separate medium bowl.
  5. Once the yeast is ready, put about 1 cup of the dry ingredients into a large sturdy bowl. Add the yeast mixture and stir with a heavy wooden spoon or “dough whisk”. Add the egg/oil mixture and stir. Alternately (and gradually) add the remaining dry ingredients and the remaining water (dry-water-dry-water-dry) stirring after each addition. The dough/batter will be VERY thick.
  6. Allow to rest for a few minutes (the gum needs to absorb water) and then stir again.
  7. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 40-60 minutes, or just until the dough has risen nearly to the top of the pan. Remove the plastic wrap. [Here in Minnesota this always takes longer than the recipes indicate! Be patient!]
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F while the dough makes its final rise to the top of the pan (if you’ve been letting it rise in the oven, here’s where you take it out!! 🙂 ). Bake the dough on the center rack for 40-50 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the loaf reads 200°F. [I rotate the loaf halfway through the baking time.]
  9. Remove the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Turn out and allow to cool completely.

See additional Notes below the pictures

Yes, the dough needs to be THIS thick, or it will collapse.

Left: half way through baking; Right: end of baking, already dipping in the center.

On the left is the millet-oat bread I made last week in the 10″x5″ pan; on the right is today’s bread made in the 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ sandwich bread pan. Goal: a 10″x5″ loaf that rises as high as today’s smaller loaf . . . I’m not really into “dainty” sandwiches! Still, this loaf didn’t taste bad . . . but definitely amaranth-y.


  • I baked mine for 50 minutes, but even though the internal temp was 205°F, the center didn’t look/feel “done” and looked like it would collapse. I tried turning off the oven and allowing it to cool for about 15 minutes in the still-warm oven. Won’t know how mushy the middle is until I cut into it some more. There has already been some collapsing a few hours later. [Note: the interior texture is a bit on the moist/tender side, but toasting takes care of that. No major raw or mushiness inside. Still looking for the GFBread Recipe that I can eat without toasting first!]
  • After much searching on the interwebs (and reading contradictory information in various cookbooks). I’ve decided that even if some people believe you no longer need to “proof” yeast, if I’m using active dry yeast, I will proof it. If I don’t want to bother with proofing, I will use RapidRise or “instant” yeast mixed in with the dry ingredients and slightly warmer water (120°-130°F).
  • BTW—getting GF bread dough to rise and then not collapse after baking are the two biggest challenges I’ve run into so far.

GF Chocolate Chip Cookes

First a little venting . . . this morning I pull out two different GF cookbooks to compare Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes.  They were almost identical, except for completely OPPOSITE WARNINGS about butter vs. vegetable shortening!!  One said “Don’t use butter or the cookies will spread all over the pan!” and the other said “If you use margarine or shortening instead of butter your cookies will spread more.”

This is what drives me NUTS about cookbooks in general, but GF cookbooks in particular . . . I don’t believe any of these people knows what they are talking about!  Often the authors will actually disagree with THEMSELVES, providing opposite advice in different parts of the cookbook!

In any case, I will be trying to make GF Chocolate Chip Cookies sometime soon.  Most likely I’ll use the same recipe I used several months ago.  They were very yummy!  In any case I’ll be using palm oil shortening (because I’ve given up dairy).

BTW, in trying to research which of the cookbooks was actually correct, I found yet another source who claimed it was the baking soda that makes cookies spread . . . e-gads!

More later . . .

Later: another source says it’s HYDROGENATED shortening that spreads more (and the article assumes all shortening is hydrogenated) . . . but the stuff I use is NON-HYDROGENATED . . . so the plot thickens.  At this point I’m will to give up and just enjoy the cookies! 🙂

My verdict . . . they’re good, but I’m not wild about the special gluten-free mini chocolate chips made of “evaporated cane juice, ‘natural’ non-alcoholic chocolate liquor, and non-dairy cocoa butter”.  I also added walnuts this time.  Other than those updates (I used regular chocolate chips before) same recipe as a few months ago, but they seem greasier to me . . . almost like less fat and more GF flour might be better.  Though that might strain my hand mixer (now that the stand mixer is broken 🙁  ).