MND: At least I taught her full Indian dinner…

January 17, 2012

So. Hello!

Petra has convinced me that, even though I’m a complete slacker (who disappeared for, oh, years), she still loves me and wouldn’t mind sharing the blog space again. After we managed to get the West Coast MND going again in 2010, a series of events pushed it into hiatus for about 10 months.

However! In those intervening months, I moved into a bigger kitchen (though, honestly, it would have been difficult to move into a smaller one). Two people can actively cook/prep/wash without knocking the other person over. And not only can more than two people cook, there’s space for people to hover in the doorways. A social kitchen, how I have missed you.

We’ve had a successful MND since about October, so I feel fairly confident I can start blogging about it again, though I still haven’t remembered to take photos of preparations. I promise pretty photos in the future.

For Christmas, I got dutch oven (things I never thought I’d be excited about when I was younger, for $500 Alex) — and have been using it as often as possible. I decided to get my feet wet with some Indian-inspired recipes. Now, I can’t say these would have made an Indian mother proud (nor do they constitute a full Indian dinner), but they were successful nonetheless.

Chicken Cashew Curry
Basmati Rice
Takeaway Naan (provided by one of our guests)

Apple Crumble w/ Vanilla Ice Cream (provided by Laura and her sixteen bushels of CSA apples)

Chicken Cashew Curry
adapted by Gourmet
Served 7-8 as I made it, with some leftover. As always, I used a bit more of each spice than the recipe called for. I added about a tsp of garam masala. The cayenne gave it a nice kick of heat at the end.

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup cashews (1/4 pound)
3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

The recipe is fairly forgiving, I feel. I chopped 3 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs and a 1 lb of chicken breasts into bite sized pieces, instead of the whole chicken. I also used 1.5 cans of tomatoes, because I had some tomatoes left over from a previous meal. I think it worked – may even add more next time. I also used 2% Greek Yogurt, which didn’t seem to impact the flavor. I had a guest with a nut allergy, so I removed a serving of the curry prior to adding the nuts — the sauce didn’t thicken with just the yogurt, but the taste still worked.

Heat butter in a 5- to 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderately low heat until foam subsides, then cook onions, garlic, and ginger, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder, salt, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring to coat, 3 minutes. [On Petra’s suggestion, I tossed in the thighs, did the next step, and then 20 minutes later, I added the breast meat. It seemed to work; the breast meat didn’t get overcooked but still grabbed some great flavor.] Add tomatoes, including juice, and cilantro and bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Just before serving:
Pulse cashews in a food processor or electric coffee/spice grinder until very finely ground, then add to curry along with yogurt and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring, until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

[Curry, without yogurt and cashews, can be made 5 days ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Reheat over low heat before stirring in yogurt and ground cashews.]

Served 6-7

So, there’s a lot of butter in this. I’m sure you could make it with less butter, but I haven’t tried it yet. And it’s the first recipe for homemade saag that I think really has the taste I’m looking for from saag.

1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 green chile pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
1 pound chopped fresh mustard greens
1 pound chopped fresh spinach
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt

I’ve made this recipe twice now. The first time, we used two bunches of rainbow chard and one bunch of spinach (side dish for 7). This time, I used kale and spinach. It tasted amazing both times. I think you can use any combo of greens – but do use the full pound of each because it cooks down so much. Someone recommended using cornstarch to make it thicker and, if you want the thick saag from a restaurant, you may want to do that. Otherwise, it was good as is. I did just leave it alone and let it cook down at the end, and I think that really helped.

In a large skillet or wok, melt butter over medium-high heat, and cook and stir cumin seed, chile pepper, garlic, and turmeric until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the chopped mustard greens and spinach a little at a time, adding the tougher parts first (the stems and thicker leaves). Continue to add greens, and cook and stir until all greens have been added and all are thoroughly wilted. Stir in the cumin, coriander, and salt. Cover; reduce heat and simmer until greens are tender, about 10 minutes, adding water as needed to keep the greens moist.


One comment

  1. Welcome back!

    Those both sound yummy, although I think I’d find it easier to eat the saag if I didn’t know how much butter had gone into making it šŸ˜‰

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