June 29, 2011

Tinkering with Indian

I bought At Home with Madhur Jaffrey several months ago, but have been waiting for some reason to cook anything from it. Partly because I needed about one million spices that I didn't have. Thanks to a generous gift card I received for Penzey's Spices, I was able to buy many of those exotic spices. Anyway, I recently tried my first two recipes from the book.

The first, Chicken Karhai with Mint, was a total success. It was... DELICIOUS. Jaffrey suggests for some recipes that you use a homemade garam masala, so this was also my first chance to use the Cuisinart coffee grinder that I also bought several months ago to grind my spices. (I'm not using it for coffee.) I'm not even really a chicken lover, but I'm trying to eat lots of protein lately and I find that I feel better when I'm eating it. Anyway, for a starch I used Trader Joe's Frozen Brown Rice Medley. Instead of the microwave (ready in 3 minutes!) I put it in a pot, added some water, and some chopped dried apricots, and let it simmer about 10-15 minutes. It was a really delicious and EASY side, and I highly recommend that rice, even if you don't add fruit to it. And I don't even like brown rice.

The next Indian dish I tried was Tandoori Style Chicken with Mint. I think my biggest mistake here was using white meat instead of the legs that the recipe suggests. (Only had chicken breasts in my house.) I marinated it in its yogurt mixture overnight, and then cooked it in a 500 degree oven in a pyrex dish. It wasn't until later that I thought, hm, I wonder if that dish can go up to 500 degrees? Anyway. One note about this dish: don't put the marinade in the baking dish. She does say "remove chicken from marinade" but I thought, hmm, maybe some of the sauce should be in the dish. This is a mistake, because the sauce basically burns to the dish at that temperature, and becomes difficult to scrub off afterward. Just put the chicken into the baking dish. I got a little of the Tandoori flavor I know from restaurants on the browned edges of the breast, but as you can see, most of it stayed white. This is why I think it's really important to use smaller, dark meat pieces of chicken (like she suggests.)

The rice I made was also from her book, Yellow Basmati Rice with Sesame Seeds. This was made yellow from ground turmeric (my spices at work!) The only ingredient I didn't have was urad dal, or yellow split peas, but it only called for 1 teaspoon, so I figured it was not THAT essential. You are supposed to put mustard seeds into the pan with some oil, and when they start to pop, you add the rice. Well, for those of you who've never used mustard seeds, they really pop! As in, right out of the pot! So be ready :)

I like this book a lot, especially because of the background information about where the recipes originate (they are not all from India), and because they are all easy. With a little planning ahead next time, I'll be sure I have all the ingredients when I try my next recipes.

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