Bindya Bedi’s chicken curry

Adapted from The Age and read at NewsELA

  • 1 kilogram chicken thighs 

Ingredients for the marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons of ginger garlic paste 
  • 1 squeeze of lime 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt 
  • 1 tbsp ghee

Ingredients for the curry:

  • 1/4 cup of neutral oil (coconut oil or ghee, my pref)
  • 4 medium-sized brown onions, peeled and roughly chopped 
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled 
  • 2 cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely diced 
  • 1 to 2 green chillies (we used 1 Jalapeño chili pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick 
  • 4 to 5 cardamom pods 
  • 8 to 10 peppercorns 
  • 4 to 5 cloves
  • 4 tomatoes, or 1/2 a cup of tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder 
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander 
  • 1 teaspoon ground garam masala 
  • Salt, to taste 
  • cilantro, to garnish

Directions:

  1. In a large glass bowl, marinate the chicken thighs in the ginger garlic paste, lime juice and salt. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestle (or food processor?) to grind the onions, garlic, ginger and green chillies to a paste and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the cumin seeds. Roughly pound all of the whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns and cloves) and add to the oil. Once they start to make popping sounds, add the onion paste. Heat over a low flame, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a golden-brown paste and the oil starts to separate. 
  3. Next, add the tomatoes, salt to taste, turmeric, red chili powder, and ground coriander. Cook until the tomatoes just start to form a paste. Add the chicken, garam masala and 1/2 cup of water. Bring the curry to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover with a lid and continue to cook over a medium heat.
  4. After 20 to 25 minutes, uncover the pan and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until the water evaporates and the curry starts to thicken. Once the curry is ready, switch the flame off.
  5. Serve with your choice of naan or basmati rice and top with fresh cilantro leaves, if desired.

I read this in a NewsELA article, which I subscribed to as a science teacher. They offer loads of readable current news, including in science and health and social justice. Some changes from the original recipe: we used organic coconut oil, although I would have been equally happy with ghee. We speeded things up with using a garlic press and grater for the ginger for the marinade paste, and added a coconut oil to keep the chickens moist. I ran out of whole cloves, so I added some black mustard seed for appearances. And rather than the mortar and pestle method for the onion-garlic-ginger-chili mixture, we used a smoothie blender. We did use the mortar and pestle to grind the whole spices though! Make sure you turn on your ventilation — these are some powerful aromas when you start frying!

***Marinade reminder: we mixed ACID (lime) + SALT + OIL (ghee) + HERBS/SEASONINGS/SUGAR (ginger / garlic) + TIME (30 minutes).***

~Jessica

Garlic na’an

Adapted from My Food Story

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 tablespoon Oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Garlic
  • Sesame Seeds, Onions Seeds (for sprinkling and melted butter for brushing)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, sugar and salt. Stir to combine well.
  2. Add yogurt and oil and knead into the flour. Start adding water little by little and knead as you go till you get a soft, supple dough. You may not need the entire quantity of water so add only as much as you require. If the dough feels too dry, add water by the teaspoon or some extra flour if the dough feels little wet. It should look like a smooth ball
  3. Cover with a damp towel and set aside in a warm place for 25-30 minutes. If you live in a cold place, rest the dough for 1.5-2 hours. But in warmer climate, 30 minutes is sufficient.
  4. Heat a flat non-stick pan or skillet or tawa. We used a cast iron pan I found in the cupboard.
  5. Divide the dough into lemon sized balls. Dust a ball of dough in flour. Lightly roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness without applying too much force. Use a little dry flour if the dough is sticky. Make sure it’s thin enough! (Our first tries were a little bit thick)
  6. Brush the top lightly with water, and sprinkle with sesame and onion seeds (kalonji) and chopped garlic. Lightly press so that they stick to the dough. Turn it over, and brush the other side well with water as well – this helps the naan stick to the tawa.
  7. Make sure your pan is really hot. Now place the bottom side down on the tawa (pan) so that the side with sesame seeds is facing up. Wait for 5 seconds and cover with a lid, which should be big enough to cover the naan. The naan starts forming air pockets. Wait for 45 seconds and then flip the naan to cook it on the other side. Cook for approx 30 seconds, pressing down lightly to help it cook evenly. The naan is ready. Brush it with butter immediately and serve!

This recipe popped up in my Google Feed, which prompted the idea of this recipe for weekend date night culinary exploits. We didn’t have the sesame and onion seeds, unfortunately. I was impressed enough that we had found paneer for the saag, from the Pakistani grocery 20 minutes away. I do not recommend the “direct flame” method because every time, the naan fell into the fire. Exciting!

~Jessica

Palak paneer (aka saag paneer)

Adapted from Spice Cravings and Kitchen of Debjani

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon ghee (ghee / coconut oil blend)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup onion (1 medium onion, chopped)
  • 1 green chili (optional: Habanero)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (thought I had it, but it was actually milder Madras curry powder)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder (I used paprika!)
  • 12 oz. baby spinach (2 boxes of organic)
  • 1 cup water
  • 100 ml. fresh cream
  • 10 oz. paneer, 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp. kasuri methi (I couldn’t find)

Directions:

  1. Heat a deep sauce pan on medium high heat.
  2. Add oil and cumin seeds (I used black mustard seeds instead). When the seeds begin to sizzle, add crushed ginger and garlic.  Add sliced onion and green chili, and sauté for a minute. Add the tomato.
  3. Add salt, spices and stir well. Then, add 3/4 cup water, stir, cover the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Open the lid and add 1/2 the baby spinach and stir to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining spinach and wilt for around 2 minutes. Sauté for another minute. Turn off the heat.
  5. Using a hand blender puree the spinach mix.  Add a little water if needed. Add 1/2 the cream.
  6. Turn the heat back on to medium, add paneer cubes and simmer for 1 min, till paneer cubes become soft. Turn off the heat. Stir in butter and the other 1/2 cream, this adds a silky smooth finish to the sauce, and gives it a gorgeous shine.
  7. Serve hot with cumin basmati rice or naan. Enjoy!

No Insta Pot here, I’m afraid. We made na’an to go with it! Baking adventures. It was an adventure finding a Pakistani store on the day before Puerto Rican Independence Day, to find frozen paneer. Also since we had less spinach, we added a couple of parboiled potatoes, so… palak aloo paneer! Coming up next: the na’an recipe.

~Jessica

Murgh makhani (Indian butter chicken)

Adapted from Little Spice Jar and Urvashi Pitre

Chicken Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes (we used tomatoes on the vine)
  • 5 or 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
  • 4 ounces butter, cut into cubes, or ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup yogurt (original: full-fat coconut milk)
  • ¼ to ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the tandoori masala, ginger, garlic, and yogurt. Whisk until smooth, adjust seasonings to preference. Add the chicken and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes and ideally for 12-24 hours, covered in the refrigerator. We marinated overnight.
  2. Heat the ghee (we used butter) in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they turn translucent and start to sweat, about 5-7 minutes — don’t allow the onions to brown! Add ginger and garlic paste and let cook for 30 seconds, stirring so it doesn’t burn. Add the crushed tomatoes along with the chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder and continue to cook for 5 minutes, if the mixture starts bubbling rapidly, add about ¼ cup of water and continue to cook.
  3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the dutch oven over medium heat. Add the marinated chicken (discard any excess marinade) and cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring as required to brown all sides.
  4. Add the butter chicken sauce to the pot and heat everything through. Once it starts to bubble, add the cream (we used whole plain yogurt) and garam masala. When the sauce regains a simmer, add the crushed fenugreek leaves (we didn’t have! Darn COVID-19 pandemic). Serve over basmati rice or with naan.

(Hindi: मुर्ग़ मक्खनी) according to Wiki. “The subtle difference between Paneer Butter Masala and Shahi paneer is that more of whole spices are used in Paneer Butter Masala whereas Shahi paneer has a sweeter taste when compared to Paneer Butter Masala.” (Wiki) Pitre’s recipe was even featured in The New Yorker! Jesse cooked this really well, and even set timers and things. We did not have an Instant Pot.

~Jessica

Indian chai masala

Adapted from LMU München. This chai Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk (I used ⅔ cup of half and half)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Black tea bags (looseleaf preferable)
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • Cloves (didn’t have, grated some cinnamon stick instead)
  • sugar, to taste

Directions:

In a saucepan, heat 1 cup milk and 1 cup water on low heat, together with 5 cardamom pods and a few cloves. Then, add a black tea (best looseleaf is Indian or African) and cook over medium heat until the color is a caramel-brown. Add sugar to taste, bring to a boil again, and enjoy on a rainy day with savory pastries!

Fun Fact: “In many Indo-Aryan languages, chai or cha is the word for tea. This comes from the Persian چای chay, which originated from the Chinese word for tea 茶 chá.” (Wikipedia) Hearing about masala chai in grad school, I always thought it peculiar how similar the word sounded to the Mandarin word. If I really wanted to up my game, masala chai is “traditionally prepared as a decoction of green cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, ground ginger, and black peppercorn together with black tea leaves” (Wiki).

~Jessica

Coconut curry chicken

Adapted from Woks of Life and Tyler Florence and Damn Delicious

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Ghee (I used butter)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • One 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoons Curry Powder (I used Garam masala)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 to 3 dried red chiles (I used red pepper flakes)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 400mL can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cups chicken stock (I used soup greens cooked in water; included parsnip, turnip, dill, parsley, carrot, onion, celery, leek)
  • 4 bone-in organic chicken thighs
  • handful of string beans
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 lemon, juiced (I subbed with 2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar)

Directions:

  1. Heat the Ghee (butter) in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the diced onions, grated ginger, and smashed garlic and cook slowly until the onions are very soft, about 15 minutes.
  2. While waiting, I diced some red potato to add in. Add the curry powder and chili flakes and give it a good stir; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken stock (water) and bring it back to a simmer; cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, chicken, cilantro, and half the lemon juice; continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. I added some slices of green bell pepper and a handful of string beans here (seemed more apropos then sugar snap peas).
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro and mint leaves.

I halved this recipe. My puopuo (mother’s mother) gets canned goods at the local senior citizen community center in Jackson Heights, so what better way to make this. I like to take the canned beans she gives me and make rice and beans in the rice cooker. This time I just cooked plain jasmine rice, after 2 rinses. Next coconut curry I make, I’d like to try the Penang (Thai) red curry. I wanted to add peanuts, but couldn’t find any raw ones at Fine Fare, so I stirred in a bit of peanut butter (Thanks puopuo!) instead.

Merry Christmas Eve,
~Jessica

Chole

aka Chana masala. Adapted from Padma Lakshmi, a repeat from an earlier recipe.

2 onions, quartered
1 bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped (I used red)
6 large firm, ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, or to taste
Salt, to taste
2 (15-ounce) cans chick peas or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, or to taste

Chop finely the onions, bell pepper, tomatoes and ginger root. In a pot set over medium heat, warm the (I used coconut) oil until hot. Add the onions and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and peppers and cook for 20 minutes. Add the Garam Masala and chili powder and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Add the salt and chick peas and cook, stirring, until heated through. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve the curry over rice.

~Jessica

P.S. I also threw in some green and yellow squash for extra vegetables, and we threw in a dollop of peanut butter for added creaminess!

Yam lentil curry

Curried Lentils With Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard, Adapted from smitten kitchen from The New York Times.

coconut oil + butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
fresh ginger root, grated
garam masala, curry powder, paprika
1 jalapeño pepper, minced (I had red pepper flakes)
1 L vegetable broth, or as needed
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
300 g dried lentils
1 bay leaf
380 mL canned tomatoes
125 g frozen spinach
salt + black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime

Saute onions, garlic, and ginger in fat until fragrant. Add the pepper and spices. Add the broth and bay leaf. I added canned tomatoes here, cause I like a tomato-based curry. Boil lentils and potatoes in this for 20-30 minutes. Stir in greens if you have any, and lime juice. Taste. Add more water if lentils need more time. Season to taste. Garnish with cilantro.

~Jessica

The world’s best cuisines

According to…

CNN
10. United States
9. Mexico
8. Thailand
7. Greece
6. India
5. Japan
4. Spain
3. France
2. China
1. Italy

Lonely Planet
1. Thailand
2. Greece
3. China
4. France
5. Spain
6. Mexico
7. Italy
8. India
9. Japan
10. Indonesia & Malaysia

Rough Guides
10. Singapore
9. Mexico
8. Indonesia
7. France
6. China
5. Vietnam
4. Japan
3. India
2. Thailand
1. Italy

This subjective topic came up when I found some Europeans who did not consider French food to be all that special, but most Americans think French is haute cuisine. Do you agree? Bold countries made all three lists! =)

~Jessica

References
“THE BEST CUISINE IN THE WORLD – AS VOTED BY YOU”

“Which country has the best food?”

“The best countries for food”

Butter paneer masala

Adapted from Padhu’s Kitchen and Sanjeev Kapoor

Butter
2 Onions
Ginger-garlic paste
-250 g Tomatoes, chopped (I used 500 g)
200 g Paneer (I used smoked tofu)
50 g Cashew nuts, soaked in boiling water for 15 min, ground to a paste
Fenugreek leaves, dry (if you can find, I couldn’t)
Salt to taste
Garam masala, Coriander, Turmeric powder
Cinnamon, 2 Cloves,  1 Cardamom pod, Dried red chilies

Garnish
Fresh cream
Finely chopped cilantro leaves (wish I had!)

Heat butter, and saute cloves, cinnamon stick, red chilies, and cardamom. Stir-fry and brown the onions, then the ginger-garlic paste. Add the cashew paste. Add coriander powder, red chili powder, and tomatoes. Cook on high. Puree. Cook the paneer, and add it. Remove from heat and add cream.

~Jessica