Sunday, March 05, 2006

Indian Food Extravaganza

I gave one of my friends an Indian cookbook and a spice grinder for Christmas this year. Since then, we had been thinking about getting together to make an Indian dinner for our friends. We got a chance to do just that in mid-February.

I have to say, Indian food is labor intensive. The recipes are ingredient heavy and time consuming. Of course, we were also making food for 15 people and had to triple our recipes, except for the cake. I think we spent 4 or 5 straight hours working 5 dishes. My friend and I divided up the labor and worked steadily throughout the afternoon. We made mulligawtawny soup, chicken korma, yellow rice with peas, potato and cauliflower curry and an almond paste cake. We used recipes from 3 cookbooks, 2 Indian cookbooks by Madhur Jaffrey and How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson, which had the cake recipe.

The recipe for the mulligawtawny soup is:
1 cup red split lentils, picked over, washed, and drained
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 medium potato
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/4 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely grated
1 1/4 cup water
1 chicken breast, boned and skinned, with a net weight of about 200g (7 oz)
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice (you may want more)

First, the lentils were combined with chicken stock and turmeric in a heavy, medium-sized pot and were brought to a boil. After it was reached a boil, the heat was turned down, the pot was covered, with the lid just very slightly ajar, and lentils simmered for 30 minutes.

While the soup simmered, the potatoes were peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice.
When the soup had cooked for 30 min, the potatoes were added, the pot was covered, with the lid slightly ajar again, and simmered for another 30 min.

Next, the garlic and ginger were placed into
an electric blender with 4 1/2 tbs of water and
blended into a smooth paste. We removed all the fat from the chicken breast and cut them into 1/2 inch pieces, put the chicken in a bowl, and tossed it with 1/4 tsp of the salt and some black pepper.

Once the soup base finished cooking, we pureed it, put it into a large bowl and
added the remaining 1 tsp of salt. The pot was rinsed and placed back on the burner on medium heat with some oil. When the oil was hot, the garlic-ginger paste was added along with cumin, coriander, and cayenne. When the spice mixture was slightly browned and separated from the oil, the chicken pieces were added and cooked for 2-3 minutes until the chicken
pieces turned opaque. Then we added 1 cup water and brought it to a boil and then simmered it for 3 minutes. Afterwards, we poured in the pureed soup and the lemon juice, mixed it, brought it to a simmer, and corrected the seasonings.

The chicken korma was actually really easy but was time consuming because we tripled the recipe and had to cut up 12 lbs of chicken. We decided to use skinless, boneless chicken thighs in this recipe because it's more flavorful. I also omitted the white poppy seeds because I did not have them. Instead, I pureed the ginger, garlic and shallots with a little bit of water. I also only had ground coriander, cumin, and fennel, so I used those. Here is the recipe:

2 tsp white poppy seeds, soaked in water for 2 hours
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cups shallots
1 tbs whole coriander seeds
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds
1 tsp whole peppercorns
4 tbs corn or peanut oil
1 whole star anise pod
1 medium stick of cinnamon
5 whole cardamom pods
1 medium onion, sliced into fine half-rings
3 1/2 lbs chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbs plain yogurt
1 cup well-stirred coconut milk
1 1/2 to 2 tbs lemon juice
fresh chopped mint or cilantro to garnish

The recipe calls for pureeing the poppy seeds, their soaking liquid, the ginger, garlic and shallots into a paste. Then I ground the coriander, cumin, fennel and peppercorns.

I heated up the oil in a deep-sided skillet over medium high heat and then added the star anise, cinnamon and cardamom. Then I added the onions and cooked them until they turned reddish brown. Next, I added the ginger and shallot paste and cooked it for 2 to 3 minutes. I then reduced the heat to medium and added the ground spices and cooked them for 1 minute. After that, I added the chicken and cooked it for 6 to 7 minutes and then added the potatoes, carrots, tomato, salt and cayenne pepper. I stirred the vegetables in and then added 1 1/2 cups of water and brought this to a boil, covered the pan and cooked the mixture for 15 minutes. Then I uncovered the pan and cooked the korma for another 10 minutes to thicken the sauce. While the chicken is cooking, I mixed together the yogurt, coconut milk and lemon juice. When the sauce thickened, I added the yogurt mixture, stirred it and cooked it for an additional 5 minutes over low heat and garnished it with the cilantro or mint.

Any of these recipes would have been sufficient by themselves for a meal for 2 or 3 people. I guess I always have a habit of making too much food, especially if I am having guests over. Oh, and we had mango lassis. I love mango lassis.


Post a Comment

<< Home