Feb 7, 2010

Indian Cooking 101

We've finally made our first foray into Indian cooking. After a solid hour and a half in the kitchen, last night we turned out a very authentic and enjoyable spicy green curry chicken dish!

It all started with our recipe organizing exercise. Our collection of torn out magazine clippings and printed off internet recipes had gotten out of control and was covering every horizontal space in our kitchen. So we embarked on a week-long organization task that finally wrapped up today. Now we have a big fat tabbed binder and clean kitchen bookshelf to show for it, but moreover, we have rediscovered our Indian cookbook entitled Fresh Indian: Over 80 healthy Indian recipes by Sunil Vijayakar (Metro Books).

After visiting our friend Amanda and her twins, Aida and Ella, then stopping at McGonigle's for a euphoric 15 minute, two-fisted barbecue sandwich demolition, we putted over to the Indian grocer at 95th and Metcalf and stocked up on spices and basmati rice. Our mission for expedient shopping dragged out into an hour and a half of pointing, sniffing, oohing and ahhing over the sights and smells we encountered at the market. Perhaps a small waste of time, but worth its weight in inspiration. 

Preparation of the rice, chicken and curry was actually quite simple. The difficulty came from the delicious flatbread Elizabeth created, also from Fresh Indian. A perfect compliment to this dish, for those not ready to tackle the more difficult naan - a more delicate flatbread, soft with pillowy pockets and a charred crust (see how much I love naan in this review of Korma Sutra in Westport).

Here are the simple steps:

Green Chicken Curry
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger root
  • large handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1 jalapeno chopped (for spicy, use all the seeds. Medium spice, half. Mild - none.)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed cardamom seeds (I crushed whole cardamom seeds by placing them in a good ziploc bag and then pounding them with the flat side of a meat tenderizer. My dog is still traumatized.)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp jaggery or palm sugar, grated 
  • 1 3/4 cups low-fat coconut milk (the entire city - or at least the Indian grocer, Walmart and Hen House - were all out of lite, so we used full fat)
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
  • scant 1 cup water
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • lebanese cucumber, cut into fine strips to garnish (we omitted this)
Directions
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok, add the onion, and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile, place the garlic, ginger, cilantro leaves, mint leaves, jalapeno, cardamom, ground cumin, ground coriander, jaggery and coconut milk in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the chicken to the onion and cook over high heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until sealed and lightly browned. Pour in the coconut mixture and add the water. Season well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook gently for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. serve immediately over steamed basmati rice.

(Elizabeth and I liked this so much, we fought over the one serving of leftovers today. She won, because I discovered two leftover calzones from last week. I'll post about these, soon.)



Red Onion, Chile, and Gram Flour Bread
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole grain flour
  • 1 cup gram flour
  • 1 red onion, finely diced (we used half of a huge one - about the same)
  • 1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black onion seeds (nigella)
  • 1-1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • salt
  • sunflower or light olive oil, for brushing
Directions
Sift both of the flours into a large mixing bowl and add the onion, red chile, chopped cilantro, and cumin and onion seeds. Season and mix together. Gradually pour in the water and knead for 2-3 minutes on a lightly floured surface, to make a soft dough. Let rest for 5 minutes and then divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each one into a ball. Roll the balls out on a lightly floured surface to a 5-inch diameter disc. Heat a large, lat griddle pan or nonstick frying pan until it is hot. 

Cook the rolled-out discs of dough, one at a time, for 30 seconds on one side; brush with a little oil, flip over, and cook for 1 minute, moving the bread around. Then flip the dough over again to cook on the other side for 1 minute or until the bread is lightly browned on both sides. Remove and keep warm, wrapped in aluminum foil while you cook the remainder. Serve warm.

This was one of those meals we ended up liking so much, we seriously contemplated making it two nights in a row. 

Instead, we more wisely made a commitment to cooking something from this book at least once a week, not only for the enjoyment of eating it, but to also ensure our spices are used often enough, they don't go stale.

Superbowl's on. Gotta get the sombrero bean dip on the stove and crack open a beer. What a stark contrast from this India cooking. God Bless America!!


2 comments:

abruce said...

Mmmm. Looks and sounds delicious! How do you think the curry dish would be with all white meat chicken?

Foodie32 said...

OH, I should have mentioned that we didn't use thigh meat. We used organic all white boneless skinless chicken breasts. And it tasted so good, I'd actually recommend it over thighs unless you love dark meat.

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