Friday, October 24, 2008

Chicken Mulligatawny, Cauliflower with Fenugreek, and Scented Rice

All recipes in this posting are from the book Ajanta: Regional Feasts of India by Lachu Moorjani. His curries require an output for Indian spices to start with, but the dishes are authentic, amazing, and you will make a ton of them. We are even planning on dining at his restaurant when we visit the Bay Area.

The other picture is of our Nashville cousins. Aren't they genetically fortunate? Left to right, I present Shari, Bradley, Bailey and Madison. Shari was visiting us here in NYC for this Indian feast, so I thought it only right to introduce them formally.

Chicken Mulligatawney (slightly altered from book):
3 tbsp. oil
1 inch piece ginger, chopped
6 - 8 cloves garlic, chopped
3 dried red chili peppers, broken in pieces
3 onions, cut in quarters and thinly sliced
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 to 2 tsp. hot chili pepper powder
2 1/2 tsp. fennel powder
2 tsp. black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
13.5 oz. can coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup curry leaves
2 tbl. lime juice
1 tsp. Garam Masala

1) Heat the oil in a 6 to 8 quart saucepan. When hot, add ginger, garlic, and chili peppers. Fry for 10 to 15 seconds.
2) Add onions and saute over med-high heat, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly brown, about 10 minutes.
3) Turn to high heat. When pan is hot, add chicken and stir until all the chicken pieces are nicely browned. Continue browning until most of the moisture has evaporated.
4) Add cubed potatoes and all the spices; cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add coconut milk and water, bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and add curry leaves, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Mix in lime juice and Garam Masala to finish.

Cauliflower with Fenugreek:
1/4 cup oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
2 onions, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. hot chili pepper powder (substitute all or part w/ paprika to make the dish mild)
3 tsp. coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. dried fenugreek herb
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 lbs cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp. lemon juice

1) Heat the oil in a 6 quart saucepan. When hot, add garlic and ginger. Fry for 10 to 15 seconds. Add onions and saute for 8 to 10 minutes over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.
2) Add chopped tomatoes. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add all the spices, salt and dried fenugreek. Stir and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
3) Add potatoes and cook partially covered for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes. Add cauliflower and continue cooking, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes. If there is too much moisture, cook with lid removed. If there is too little moisture and the vegetables start to stick to the bottom of the pot, cover and reduce the heat. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, adding the peas for the last 4 minutes of cooking.
4) Add lemon juice.

Rice with cardamom and cinnamon:
1 cup basmati rice
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. cardamom seeds
1 stick of cinnamon

1) Heat oil in a pot until shimmering, then add cardamom seeds. Cook for 30 seconds. Add rice. Toast rice for 3 to 4 minutes, until aromatic and opaque.
2) Add cinnamon stick and water, bringing liquid to a boil.
3) Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes covered, then fluff with a fork.
4) Open He'brew Lenny's RIPA.
5) Enjoy together.

A spectacular rye-based double IPA, He'brew's Lenny's RIPA is brewed, to quote its makers, "with an obscene amount of malts and hops," and is "the straight dope for the growing minions of our nation's Radical Beer junkies." Sign us up! They're on to something. In addition to being brewed with Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Crystal, Chinook, Amarillo, and Centennial hops, it's later dry-hopped with Amarillo and Crystal. Thus you get great pine and citrus in the nose, followed by thick, malty sweetness for mouthfeel. This is beer that drinks like a meal--a rich, 10% alcohol treat with hints of pumpernickel, toffee, grapefruit and pepper. Indian food has big flavors, and this beer can go three rounds swinging.

Shari-Lynn Sample and her fine upstanding young man Robb were visiting us the last time we made this dish! Just look at them. I stole their picture from Shari's myspace page. Aren't they cute? Isn't it kinda sick? Cousin Shari is one of our favorite houseguests, whenever she visits, because she's definitely pretty enough to take outside and show to your friends, and she can walk all day, and she's super fun and nice, and she's friends with Grendel Puss-Gato, and you never know when she'll fall asleep. It's like an endearing form of narcolepsy. Awesome. And this time she brought Robb, so that's a major bonus.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

This beautiful (if I do say so myself--don't you just want to put your face in it?) salad was inspired by a similarly simple recipe in Donna Hay's gorgeous Off the Shelf: Cooking from the Pantry. We changed several elements, but a shout out to Donna in any event; her food is visually striking, healthy, and simple. Woot woot!

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Thai roasted chili paste OR harissa OR Italian red pepper tapenade
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp. honey
Salt and fresh black pepper
Avery Brewing Company's Ale to the Chief American Pale Ale

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
2) Toss cubed sweet potato in the regular olive oil, seasoning if desired. Roast the potato on the baking sheet in the oven, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes depending on how large your cubes are. Remove from oven when cooked through and well browned, and set aside in a large bowl.
3) Place quinoa in a mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly--there is a substance called saponin that coats the outside, and can taste bitter if not rinsed off.
4) Combine quinoa and vegetable stock in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes until water is absorbed.
5) While quinoa is cooking, blanch green beans in boiling salted water until tender and bright green. Rinse with cold water and set aside with sweet potatoes.
6) Combine the last five ingredients, along with salt and pepper to taste, in a small mixing bowl or dressing shaker.
7) Fluff the quinoa and add it to the vegetables. Toss with the dressing.
8) Open Ale to the Chief.
9) Enjoy together.

This beer is gorgeous. It's a lovely pumpkin orange color when poured, with resiny hops balanced by caramel-cereal malts. They brewed it as a special tribute to the lucky man who replaces Still-President Bush in November, and what a fine gesture it is! The floral sweetness rocks with the slightly spicy dressing of the salad, and the pine-bitter finish does well by the honey-tossed quinoa. Ale to the Chief indeed, and may he sip this fine vintage for solace while sitting in the Oval Office pondering how to get us out of this small fiscal snafu.

Donna Hay's books inspire great one-dish meals that can come together using practically anything in your refridgerator and shelves. Of course, I AM assuming that your refridgerator contains more than ketchup, Pabst, and month-old celery, but really, this recipe would work just as well with a can of chickpeas instead of sweet potatoes, rice instead of quinoa, and chives for mint. Go to town. Actually, no--don't go to town. That's the point: stay at home. You've ingredients enough.

Can we just vote tomorrow and know which guy Ale to the Chief is hailing? Would it be ok to corrall all the "Undecideds" at this point and build a nice compound for them where they can wander around trying to decide whether or not to take a shower, or whether they prefer to wear socks on their hands or their feet, or whether they should keep breathing? Vote for whomever you want. Seriously. But can we just get it over with now? Listen: you have two options. There's an old white conservative and a young black liberal. There you go. As Dave Sedaris put it, being undecided right now is like having this conversation on an airplane:

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Hi. Would you like the chicken, or the pile of excrement with shards of glass in it?
UNDECIDED MAN: Hmm. Well, how is the chicken cooked?

Seriously, what are these people waiting for? Do they want McCain to come over to their house with Joe the Plumber and clear their clogged toilet? Do they want Obama to bring Bill Ayers to their backyard and punch him in the face? Are they waiting for either candidate to come back triumphant from an epic quest to find George Bush's Magic Wand? Do they know the Magic Wand doesn't exist???

My head hurts.