Friday recipe: Bal Arneson’s everyday stirfry

Bal Arneson is an example of success through cooking. Born in a small village in India’s Punjab, she learned to cook from her elders. After she moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, her arranged marriage fell apart. Pregnant and in need of income, she went back to school and started teaching cooking classes.

Arneson has since earned her master’s degree in education, written two cookbooks (Everyday Indian and Bal’s Quick and Health Indian) and appeared as a judge on the TV series “Iron Chef America.” She also has hosted programs on Global BC TV and the Cooking Channel, in which she emphasizes using fresh ingredients and taste-packed herbs and spices to make simple, everyday meals.

Photo: Dayna Smith for The Washington Post
Photo: Dayna Smith for The Washington Post

Today’s recipe is Arneson’s everyday stirfy. You can vary the veggies, depending on what you have on hand. If you want more protein, add 12 ounces of cooked, diced chicken breast when the tomato goes in. Serve with rice or noodles.

Everyday stirfry

  • 2-inch piece ginger root

  • 1 large onion

  • 1 pound green beans
  • 1 pound Chinese or Napa cabbage

  • 1 medium plum tomato
  • 1 small green chili pepper (serrano or bird’s-eye)
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (available at Indian groceries and spice stores)

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed, for garnish (optional)

Peel, then finely grate the ginger to yield 2 tablespoons. Cut the onion into small dice (about 1 1/2 cups). Trim the beans and cut into 1/2-inch or 1-inch pieces (3 1/2 to 4 cups). Core, then cut the cabbage into 2-inch chunks. Cut the tomato into 1/2-inch or 1-inch chunks (1/2 to 3/4 cup). Stem, seed and mince the chili pepper; use as much as you would like.

Combine the oil, ginger and onion in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; cook for about 6 minutes, stirring often, then add the tomato, chili pepper (to taste), garam masala and salt. Add cooked chicken at this time if desired. Stir-fry for 3 minutes until the vegetables are evenly colored and just beginning to soften, then add the green beans and reduce the heat to medium. Stir-fry for 4 minutes or until the beans are just tender.

Add the cabbage and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and cover. Let sit for 2 or 3 minutes.
Divide among individual plates; sprinkle a little flaxseed over each portion, if desired. Serve warm.


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