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Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Great India: Recipe

The final stop on this week's tour of International foods was a personal favorite of mine - Indian food. I wouldn't say I have a vast knowledge or experience with this type of cuisine, but I did take an Indian Food cooking class some time ago - a three-session class where I came away with some amazing recipes and some great tips. Tonight's dinner was about simple but flavorful Indian-inspired foods made with relative ease.

The kids were introduced to Indian food about five months ago - it was one night between Christmas and New Year's when I launched into a crusade to try and pursuade everyone that we should go out for Indian food.  My oldest was all for it (she had never eaten this type of cuisine before but she was game) and because she was willing, so was my middle guy. That left my husband who likes Indian food but it isn't his "go-to" food when he wants something interesting but he, too, went along with the idea,  since we were all in agreement.  My daughter and I set about to a place that wasn't too close to home but that I knew had good food and we ordered the entire left side of the menu, as I usually do when ordering take out. We brought it home and once we began to dig in, the kids were actually vocal about how good the food tasted.  So tonight's dinner was an easy sell and in fact, when my oldest only saw the chicken on the table she asked me what had happened to the International theme for this evening...

I started the chicken last night - and with full disclosure here, I can tell you that I used a packet of garam masala that was brought back to me by my mother on her recent trip to India. So I was thrilled to have the spice blend on hand. If I hadn't had the packet of garam masala, I would have made my own blend of with: ground cumin, ground corriander, ground ginger, ground cloves, ground all-spice, ground cinnamon, ground chili powder and some ground tumeric. You could do any set of proportion with those ingredients and you would have an amazing blend of herbs and spices.  You can purchase garam masala at any Indian Market or at many local supermarkets. The flavors here really worked and I think I surprised myself! I was pleased with the way the chicken came out but even more so with the chick-pea recipe.  If you like chick-peas, make this - really.  And the rice? Please...I used Success brand Basmati Rice (that's rice in a plastic packet that gets boiled for about 10 minutes.). I added frozen petit peas that I simply ran under hot water for 2 minutes to thaw and I thought about adding a whole clove but forgot.  The meal was rounded out with mashed sweet potato that I added 1 tablespoon of butter to, along with 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of low-fat milk. The baby couldn't get enough of that!

I didn't follow any recipe for this - I just gave it the ol' college try and I was really pleased with the results. I was even more pleased that everyone asked for more and that my son announced that I was the best cook he'd ever met!

Tandoori-Style Chicken with Curried Chick-Peas
serves 6-8

2 1/2 lbs chicken thighs and legs, skinless
12 oz. plain, low-fat, yogurt
2 1/2 tablespoons garam masala

Starting the night before you wish to cook the chicken, combine in a small bowl the yogurt and the spices and mix well. Place the chicken into a large zipped bag and pour the yogurt mixture into the bag. Zip the bag, release the air from inside, and gently but purposefully, shake the bag and coat all the pieces of chicken. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

Prepare the barbeque and cook the chicken for about 20-24 minutes.

Curried Chick-Peas
serves 6-8
1 tsp. olive oil
15 oz. can chick-peas, washed and drained
1 small-medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, smashed and minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
2 medium-large fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup canned tomato sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over high heat and add onion. Saute about 5 minutes, stirring regularly so they don't burn. Lower the heat, if necessary. Sweat the onions a total of about 7-8 minutes or until they are very soft.  Add the garam masala and mix well for about 1 minute. Next, add in the chick-peas and saute about 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.  Next add in the fresh tomatoes and stir again.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute and then add in the sauce and stir well.  Next add in the cream and stir.  Allow all the flavors to meld over medium heat for about 5 more minutes and add in the cilantro and stir.  Serve with rice.

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