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WND – Curry Dinner

November 9, 2007

Have you been thinking about repainting your kitchen? Wondering what color would look best with your counter? I highly recommend making Indian food as a way to test out new color schemes for your kitchen. Some people just think it’s spices staining the counter, but you know that it’s multi-tasking at it’s finest. Would pomegranate pink look good on your walls? What about turmeric yellow?

I love Indian food, and I have a beautiful Indian cook book filled with pretty pictures and recipes. This meal does not come from there. It comes from Nigella Lawson courtesy of the Food Network and is probably about as authentically Indian as Coronation Chicken. Mind you, I like Coronation Chicken so this is not actually an issue for me, and it uses quasi-obscure spices like cardamom pods and cumin seeds so I get to feel like I’m making an ethnic effort.

Mughlai Chicken
Muttar Paneer
Roasted Curried Cauliflower
Rice Pilaf
Pomegranate Raita


This dinner is far less intimidating than it seems. It’s all about timing. I made the Mughlai Chicken on Monday and then pulled it out of the fridge on Wednesday night and set it over a low heat to warm while I put the rest of dinner together. I also made the onion puree for the Muttar Paneer on Monday night and refrigerated it. All told I spent about an hour cooking on Monday night. This includes the time I spent hopping around the kitchen going, “ow, ow, ow,” after I sliced my finger on an, oh hey wow, really sharp knife.


Mughlai Chicken

1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
4 tablespoons ground almonds*
1/2 cup water
5 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 bay leaves
4 cloves
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 pounds boned chicken thighs, each cut into 2
2 onions, finely chopped
1 cup Greek yogurt**
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream***
1/2 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flaked almonds, toasted, to garnish

Put the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, and chili into a food processor, or into a mortar and pestle, and blend to a paste. Add the ground almonds and water and then blend again, set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the chicken pieces – in batches so they fry rather than stew – and cook them just long enough to seal on both sides, then remove to a dish.

Add the spices and turn them in the oil. Add the onions and cook them until softened and lightly browned, but keep the heat gentle and stir frequently, to avoid sticking. Pour in the blended paste, and cook everything until it begins to colour. Add the yogurt, half a cup at a time stirring it in to make a sauce, then stir in the stock, cream, and sultanas.

Put the browned chicken back into the pan, along with any juices that have collected under them, and sprinkle over the garam masala, sugar, and salt. Cover and cook on a gentle heat for 20 minutes, testing to make sure the meat is cooked through.

It’s at this stage, that I like to take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool before reheating the next day.

So either now, or when you’ve reheated it, pour into a serving dish and scatter with the toasted flaked almonds.

* if you are making this for people with nut allergies, replace the ground almonds with regular flour and omit the flaked almonds at the end.

** If you can’t find Greek yogurt, or don’t feel like trekking out to your local organic/earthy crunchy grocery store to buy Greek yogurt, plain yogurt works just fine. To get to the denser consistency of Greek yogurt line a strainer with several layers of paper towels, spoon in about 1.5 times the amount of yogurt that you will need at the end and suspend the strainer over a bowl and allow to drain for 1-2 hours. Whole milk plain yogurt works best for this, although non-fat/low-fat will work too (it just won’t taste as good).

*** Please resist the temptation to use a lighter version of cream. The reason the recipe calls for heavy cream and plain yogurt as opposed to other milk based products is because neither heavy cream nor yogurt curdles when they are boiled. I think this is because of the fat content and the way the milk proteins structure respectively, although I could be making this up so don’t quote me.

Notes; This came out soupier than I wanted it to be. I think that ground almonds thickens sauce more than regular flour, so in future I’ll probably use 5-6 Tbsp of regular flour to replace the ground almonds.


Muttar Paneer

1/2 cup vegetable oil
8 ounces paneer, cut into 1/2-inch cubes*
1 onion, halved
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1-inch piece ginger, roughly chopped
Sprinkling of salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 (10-ounce) packets frozen peas
1 teaspoon tomato puree
1 cup vegetable stock

Heat the oil a large skillet and add the paneer cubes, in 2 batches, and fry until they are golden. Remove the golden cubes to a double thickness of kitchen towel. (It is possible to dry fry the paneer cubes in the pan with no oil, to avoid the oil splashing you. Then continue with the recipe below.)

Notes: I recommend a very deep pan if you’re planning on frying them in oil. The last time I made this I gave myself one of the worst burns I’ve ever had from spitting oil, and my kitchen floor was covered in a fine film of oil.

Pour all but about 2 tablespoons of the oil out of the pan. Put the onion, garlic cloves, and ginger into a food processor and blitz to a coarse pulp. Fry gently for about 5 minutes with a sprinkling of salt. Stir in the garam masala and turmeric and cook for another 2 minutes before adding the still frozen peas.

Dissolve the tomato puree in the vegetable stock and pour over the contents of the pan. Stir again and turn the heat down to low, cover with foil or a lid and cook for 15 minutes, tasting to check that the peas are tender. You can cook muttar paneer up to this stage, if you like, uncovering and then reheating gently with the diced, oil-crisped cheese, or proceed directly now.

In which case, take off the foil and add the paneer cubes to warm them through before serving.

* My town is bizarre, our local grocery store is frequently out of things like corn meal or butter, but I have an Indian and a Greek grocery store within walking distance. Go figure. If you lack a convenient local Indian grocery store you can make paneer. I’ve never tried, but it doesn’t sound too complicated. Or, you could just serve this without the paneer and I bet it would be pretty tasty.

Notes: The first time I made this I made it in advance and reheated it. I think it works better if you make it fresh the day of and don’t try reheating it. The flavors are fresher, and the peas taste more briskly pea-like (this is a good thing, mushy peas are nobody’s friend). I pulsed and cooked the onions on Monday night, but did not add the spices until reheating the onions on Wednesday because the turmeric stains everything it touches.


Pilaf

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves
3 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds (optional)
2 1/2 cups basmati rice
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted, for garnish
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish*

Cook the onion in the oil, in a deep saucepan with the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, and nigella seeds, if using, until the onion is slightly browned and soft. Keep the heat medium to low and stir frequently; this should take about 10 minutes.

Add the rice and move it about in the oily spiced onion until it is slicked and glossy, then pour in the stock and bring the pan to the boil. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over the lowest heat possible for 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat, take the lid off, cover with a tea towel and clamp the lid back on the saucepan. You can leave the rice to rest like this for at least 10 minutes, and up to about 1 hour. Fork the rice through when you are ready to serve it, scattering the toasted sliced almonds and cilantro on top.

* I skip the cilantro entirely because I don’t like the flavor, nor does anyone I know, but use it if you enjoy cilantro.


Roasted Curried Cauliflower

2 heads cauliflower, cut up
1 large onion, peeled, quartered & separated into layers
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon Hungarian hot paprika
1 3/4 teaspoons salt

Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a pan over heat until they are fragrant. Crush them in a small bowl and then add all the remaining ingredients except the cauliflower and onion. Whisk to form a more or less emulsified dressing.

Toss the cauliflower and onions with the dressing and turn onto a baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes (or until tender) in a 450 oven.


Pomegranate Raita

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 pomegranate, to give 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

Dig the seeds out of the pomegranate over a cutting board or separate bowl. Combine the half the seeds, the scallions, the yogurt and the salt in a bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining pomegranate seeds.

Notes: This seems like just one more thing to do, and technically it is. But, it’s really easy and it looks incredibly impressive and colorful.

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9 comments

  1. RE: mushy peas are nobody’s friend

    You have obviously never known anyone from the midlands in England where “mushy peas” are rather a treat 😉 Even in Malta, where the British had dominion for nearly 100 years, mushy peas live on in a pastry “delicacy”. (Yes, this does seem odd but so are the midland British.)

    Note: the Pomegranate Raita sounds wonderful. I shall go out and harvest my pomegranates tomorrow and make it.


  2. please can you tell me how to take the heat out of a curry


  3. I’m not entirely sure what you mean by take the heat out of a curry. How hot your curry ends up being depends on how much spice you put in it, and also to some extent on how much milk/cream you add to it. If you like a milder curry I would suggest cutting down on the spices.

    The Mughlai Chicken recipe is flavorful, but not terribly spicy, but you could cut down on the garlic and red pepper flakes to make it milder.

    Does that help?


  4. […] Recipe previously given:  Curry Dinner […]


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  9. […] Recipe previously given:  Curry Dinner […]



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