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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chicken Tikka Masala and Onion Relish

So on Saturday night after prodding from some classmates - I decided to throw an Indian dinner party, showcases some of the recipes from the blog.

The great thing about it was that I got to test the written recipe versions of the ones I wrote on this blog and make sure they came out the same way each time. There was a slight difference in the saag paneer recipe but I attribute it to the adjustment I made for the headcount. Instead of using two bags of spinach i used three, and so the cream addition should have been only a half more, and I think I might have doubled it... but it didn't affect the flavor. What did though, was forgetting to add the spices prior to blending the spinach. So the flavor wasn't cooked out of the spices and instead I added the spices in afterwards and it was sorta raw.

Anyway, Sara, my roommate, tested out a Chicken Tikka Masala recipe, I was hoping to try and eventually place on this blog. It turned out amazing! I was so proud of her. What was better was we had some of my classmates come by, some who are Indian, and they said they enjoyed it as well - which is a huge compliment!

So here's how you make it. It's take a bit of time, but it's worth it. We ended up adding some more red chili powder, maybe a little too much, but it gave it a great kick. Also some sugar helps to balance out the flavors - and if you let it sit for a bit, the flavors blend even more.

Chicken Tikka Masala
serves 6, marinade: at least an hour, prep: 30 min., cook: 1 hour.

* need various amounts of spices, so keep them handy...
  • coriander powder
  • cumin seeds
  • ginger paste
  • garlic paste
  • chili powder
  • turmeric
  • fenugreek leaves, ground
  • garam masala
  • cashew nuts
  • salt
  • lime
  • cream
  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, cubed
  • 2 bell peppers (two different colors), cubed
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • a bunch of cilantro
  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed.

  1. Marinade the chicken, bell peppers and 1 tomato in yogurt and spices. Recipe below.

  • ½ tsp. of chili powder
  • ½ tsp. of coriander powder
  • ½ tsp. of turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. of ginger paste
  • 1 tsp. of garlic paste
  • ½ tsp. of fenugreek leaves, ground
  • ¼ tsp. of salt      
  • ½ of the juice of a lime
  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1 cup of yogurt

  1. Take the other tomato and add to blender or food processor and 1 tbsp. of cashews and create a puree.
  2. In a medium pot, add a tbsp of oil. Once hot – add 1 tsp. of garam masala, chopped onions, 1 tbsp. of cumin seeds, 1 tsp. of turmeric, 1 tbsp. of coriander, 1 tsp. of chili powder – and cook it the spices for a bit. Add ½ a cup of water and allow it blend with the spices. Then add the tomato puree. Add 2 cups of cream. Add another tsp. of fenugreek powder and cover the pot and allow to boil until combined.
  3. Taste and add salt to taste.
  4. On a grill or in a non stick or cast iron pan grill vegetables and chicken. Sear outside of chicken and cook through.
  5. The add in chicken and vegetables and allow the masala to simmer.
  6. Add cilantro to the dish and serve over rice.

In addition to the dishes of chana masala, dal, and lamb keema - she made onion relish, the type you get with pappadum at Indian restaurants as sort of an appetizer.

We found a basic recipe online, but had to make adjustments. 

Fiery Onion Relish

  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 4 tsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or red chili powder)
  • 1 tsp of white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of tomato puree
  •   Salt to taste
* if you don't have tomato paste available, cut out the sugar, vinegar and salt - add 1.5 tbsp of ketchup instead.


1.      If you prefer your onion to be less pungent, soak it in salted water to cover for about 30 minutes, then drain and rinse it.
2.      Combine all ingredients and set them aside for about 30 minutes while the flavors blend.
3.      This relish should be spicy hot, so add as much cayenne as you dare! Refrigerated, this will keep for several days.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Desserts: Payesh (Rice Pudding)

So a week or so ago, on my way to interview someone about my master's project, I decided to go grab a Bahn Mi, or a Vietnamese sandwich at Baoguette in Manhattan. When I got to small shop off Lexington Avenue, I was impressed with the small but delicious menu. 

I decided on a Sloppy Bao - spicy curry pork, green mango, cilantro and lemongrass. It's placed on a french baguette - and there was awesome Asian flavor in every bite.

So I'm thinking that this weekend - I will try to experiment with this and create two Indian sandwiches. I'm thinking one with ground lamb and one with pulled chicken... or if I'm really good another vegetarian version.

I'll definitely place the recipes up once I'm done with the experiment.

On a completely different note - I was really craving Indian sweets - which rarely happens - so I thought I'd talk about one of my favorites - rice pudding, or as known in my family - payesh. There are various versions of payesh depending on which part of India a family is from - however one thing is for sure, it's a simple and sweet dessert that is easy to make.

It's also a really easy way to get rid of bad milk. Literally, in my house we knew someone was gonna make payesh when the power went out and the milk went sour. The boiling of the milk removes any bacteria.

Bengali Payesh
serves 4, Soak: 1 hr., Prep: 5 min., Cook: 40 min.

  • 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) whole or skim milk (depending on how creamy you want it)
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice (soaked for at least one hour)
  • 10-12 cashew nuts, chopped
  • slivered almonds, 1/4 cup
  • 1/4 cup of sugar, or of jaggery**
  • 1/4 cups of raisins
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 green cardamoms

** jaggery is a unrefined sugar usual found in block form in Asian grocery stores. It almost looks like dark brown sugar.

  1. Bring the milk to a boil in a pan. Add the bay leaves and green cardamoms and let boil further for 8-10 minutes on medium heat. When 3/4 of the milk remains, add the soaked rice, sugar, cashew nuts, almonds and raisins.
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer until only half of the milk remains in the pan and the rice is tender. Keep stirring from time to time throughout the process.
  3. Allow to cool.  Cover and refrigerate.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Baigan Bhartha (Spiced Mashed Eggplant)

So if you're a fan of Baba Ganoush - the Mediterranean pureed eggplant dish - Baigan Bhartha is a great dish to try.

Roasting the eggplant allows it to have a smoky flavor - which is enhanced by the cumin.

Baigan Bhartha 
serves 4, Prep: 20 min, Cook: 25 min.
  • 1 eggplant, grilled in oven
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 1 green chillies (adjust to taste, I used Indian green chillies)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic (optional)
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 lime wedge or tbsp of lime juice
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish
  • Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 365 degrees. Use 1 tbsp. oil to cover the skin of the eggplant and wrap it in aluminum foil. Grill the eggplant for 30 min. or until soft- then cool, peel, mash and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a pan add the chopped onions, green chillies, ginger and garlic with a pinch of salt.
  3. When the onions turn pink (don't brown it too much), add the chopped tomatoes. Mix well and cook covered for about 10 mins, stirring once or twice in between. 
  4. Once the tomatoes are cooked soft, put cooked veggies in a bowl. Add the garam masala, coriander powder and turmeric to the bowl.
  5. Add the grilled eggplant and mashed. Once blended with other veggies, add cilantro and lime juice.