Indian? Yes, please

Left to right:  Chicken korma, basmati rice, and red lentil dahl 

I am a self taught Indian cook!  I love Indian food, so I did a lot of research and a lot of experimenting.  I think I’ve got it down!  It’s all about levels of flavours, each step you take requires the additions of more spices. It’s a lot like Mexican in that there are multiple layers of flavour being added as you are cooking the dish.

One day, a colleague of Jocelynes ( who happens to be Indian) was talking about cooking and wanting to open an Indian restaurant some day.  Jocelyne told him that I was a really good Indian cook.  So, we had a bit of a cook off.  He made butter chicken and I made butter chicken and then we switched dishes.

The next day, Jocelyne met up with her colleague and he reported that he was very impressed with my butter chicken and rated it right up there with some of the best he has had!

Well..I was over the moon!  What a compliment!  Because his butter chicken was also very good.

I am, however, not going to include a recipe for butter chicken but a recipe for chicken korma, basmati, and red lentil dahl just like the picture above describes.

Chicken Korma:

  • 2-3 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 inch knob of fresh ginger – peeled and rough chop
  • 3 cloves of garlic – rough chop
  • 1 Tbsp of Garam masala
  • 1-2 chili peppers like a bird’s eye or Thai chili or a Serrano- rough chop ( with or without seeds, depends on how hot you like it, leave ‘em in if you like it hot)
  • 1 tsp of ground cardamom 
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of turmeric 
  • 1/2 cup of almonds- rough chop
  • 3 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt- the thicker and the more fat content the better
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 2 onions- fine dice
  • 1/3 cup of heavy cream or coconut milk

Directions:

Start by cutting the chicken up into large chunks like 1 1/2 – 2 inch chunks.  Place in a non- reactive bowl like a glass bowl.

Next, take the  following 11 ingredients from the list above and place them in a food processor and blend until you have a paste. If it seems too thick then add a little water to it to loosen it up.

Now, scoop the spice paste into the chicken bowl and coat the chicken evenly.  Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Okay, in a large sauce pan add the canola oil and the diced onions and sauté until onions are translucent.

Time to add the chicken with all the spice mix to the onions.  Continue to cook at medium heat until the chicken is cooked through ( approximately 10 minutes.)   If the sauce starts to stick to the pan, add about a tbsp of water and stir. The water helps the sauce not to stick.  Because you don’t want this to burn, you may have to add a few tbsps over the cooking period.

Now add the cream and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.

Okay that dish is done!

Basmati Rice:

  • 2 cups of Basmati rice
  • 1  & 3/4 cups of water
  • 4 whole cardamom pods – lightly crushed

Directions:

Place the rice in a sieve and wash to get rid of some of the starch.  Starch makes  the rice mushy and sticky.

Now place the rice in a medium size sauce pan along with the water and cardamom pods.  Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down.  Let it simmer for about 10 -15 minutes.

When all the water is gone, fluff the rice up with a fork.  Cover and set aside until you are ready to serve.

Red Lentil Dahl:

  • 2 onions – fine chop
  • 10 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 2 inch knob of fresh ginger – peeled and minced
  • 1-2 Jalapeños- minced ( seeds removed)
  • 1 large tomato – diced
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp of garam masala
  • 1 tbsp of turmeric 
  • 2 cups of red lentils
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 tsps of salt
  • 1 tsp of garam masala
  • 1 tsp of turmeric 

Directions:

In a large frying pan add 1/4 cup of canola oil.  Heat the oil at medium then add the onions. Sauté until translucent, be careful not to brown.

All at the same time add the garlic, ginger, and jalapeños to the onions and continue to cook until the mixture is a deep yellow colour ( about 10 minutes or so.)

Add a tbsp of both the garam masala and turmeric and cook for a few more minutes.

Now add the tomatoes and cilantro.  Cook until the tomatoes are soft and are starting to break up.

Congratulations! You just made a homemade curry paste!  You can buy curry paste but making it is so much more rewarding.

Set that curry paste aside for a few minutes while we prepare the lentils.

First, you want to wash those lentils really well!  This is important because red lentils can be very starchy and dirty. You will see what I mean when you place the lentils in a pot and pour cold water over them and give it a stir.  Just keep rinsing the lentils until the water is almost clear.

Okay, add the 4 cups of water to the lentils and cook until almost all the water is gone and it looks like porridge.  Now add the salt, 1 tsp of garam masala, and the1 tsp of turmeric.  Continue to cook for about 5 more minutes.

Time to add the curry paste to the lentils and continue cooking for another 20 minutes to allow all the flavours to get super happy in the pot.  If it seems too thick add a little water to loosen it up.  Also, taste for saltiness and  add more if need be.

Indian food pairs nicely with a Riesling, Gewurztraminer, or even a Pinot Grigio!  But it also pairs well with beer.  Your choice!  It’s all good.

Remember to cook with love in your heart- the food will taste better!

If you try any of these recipes and want to share,  please put your comments in the box below. Thanks 🙂

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