Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Dinner Last Night - Curry

We love Indian food in this house.  The kids will happily eat a spicy curry and I love that most south Asian food is usually gluten free and there is no need for sub-par substitutions or obvious omissions.  I love that you can have amazing vegetarian meals that never feels lacking. That all the herbs and spices are so good for you, all being immune boosters, anti-microbial, natural blood thinners, alkalizing, digestive aids, and warming. Generally a Indian inspired meal is pretty cheap too certainly once you have all the spices.

Last night I had my two aunts over for dinner unexpectedly and I wanted to make something good but it couldn't be prepare heavy or complicated so I went to my old stand by.....Curry.  This time I decided to try something new so I went to one of my favourite cook books of all time - The Complete Indian Cookbook by Mridula Baljekar.  This book was, and maybe still is one of the highest rated Indian cookbooks on the 'foodie chat room/boards/groups' BEEP BEEP BEEP Food Geek Alert!...Food Geek Alert!..sorry that was weird...why did that happen?

So as I was saying...the book is out of print so I searched it out, scoping out all the used book sellers on Amazon.  It is such a desired book that sellers are trying to get $100 plus (up to $160 depending on the condition) Now I love to buy cook books and have considered selling one of my young on occasion for one but that is insanely expensive even for me. So I told Amazon to let me know if it was ever available for under $50 and in decent to excellent condition to let me know.  It took around 4 months but there it was, $40 and in good condition and it has been worth every penny (I had to pay a little extra for shipping).  I have tried many of the recipes and all of them have been excellent. Sure there are ones I like more than others--marry me murghi badami--but nothing has been bad or disappointing.

So last night I decided to try Chicken with Channa Dhal
1 cup/8 oz Channa chal or yellow split peas (I actually used red lentil because that is what I had on hand)
2 1/4 lbs chicken pieces (I used 12 organic thighs, this is a great way to 'afford' organic meat and thighs are great in stews, soaps and curries)

Make a paste of the following ingredients by adding 1/4 cup of water
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne or chili powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
I found this 'paste' thin and runny at first but it really thickened up by the time I needed it.

2 tbsp cooking oil
1 inch cube of ginger root, peeled and grated
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 fresh chilli pepper, finely chopped (I was lucky to use one from my garden this time)
1 1/4 tsps salt or to taste
Scant 2 cups warm water
3 tbsps ghee or unsalted butter (got to use my new ghee)
1 lg onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)

1.  Clean and wash the split peas and soak them in plenty of cold water for about 2 hours.  Now because I used red lentils which are smaller and cook faster I rinsed them and let them soak for about 30 minutes)

2.  Cut chicken into cubes and pat dry
3.  In a heavy-based pan, heat the oil gently over low heat and fry the ginger, garlic and green chilli pepper for 1 minute

 4.  Add the spice paste, stir and fry for 2-3 minutes

5.  Add the chicken, adjust heat to medium-high, stir and fry chicken until it changes colour (3-4 minutes)
6.  Add the split peas, stir and fry for a further 3-4 minutes
7.  Stir in the salt and add the water.  Bring to a boil, cover the pan and simmer until the chicken and split peas are tender (35 to 40 minutes)

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt the ghee or butter over medium heat and fry the onion until they are golden brown (8-10 minutes), stirring frequently
Add the onions to the chicken along with any remaining ghee in the pan.  Add half of the coriander leaves leaves and stir until all the ingredients are mixed thoroughly.  Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes

Serve with the remaining coriander leaves and tomato slices.

I served this dish with Savory Rice (included in recipe column recipes) and Raita

Cucumber Raita
1 medium size cucumber
1 tsp cumin seeds
2/3 cup thick set yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika

1.  Peel the cucumber and cut lengthwise into two halves.  Remove seeds, if necessary.  Slice each half finely

2. Heat a small pan over low heat and dry roast the cumin seeds until they turn a shade darker.  Allow the seeds to cool, then crush them with a rolling pin or with pestle and mortar.

3.  Beat the yogurt until smooth.  Stir in the cumin along with the salt.
4.  Add the cucumber to the yogurt and mix thoroughly, coating cucumber well.
5.  Sprinkle with paprika and serve

Bea took this picture for me

I don't have any pictures of the final meal....super lame I know but everyone was starving and the kids needed to eat and go to bed.  This dish (the chicken channa dhal) was very good and the kids happily ate it spicy (it wasn't that spicy, more warm than hot) and all when mixed with the cooling cucumber raita.  I would happily recommend this as a whole family friendly meal

**I noticed in getting the amazon link for this post that there is currently copies for sale in the $30ish dollar range..GET IT QUICK!!

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