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Archive for Indian

::spicy nights:: Chana Masala


In an attempt to cleanse myself of the cookie madness I have been involved in the past few weeks, a recent trip to the grocery store resulted in a TON of fruits and veggies, and supplies for vegetarian dinners. It is no joke that I went through more than one 5lb bag of flour, an entire 5lb bad of sugar, 32oz of molasses, and who knows how many pounds of butter in the past month. And while you would think, most of those cookies were eaten by others… they simply weren’t. I would make far too many and end up eating all the remaining goodies. Thank goodness for pregnancy. It has made a decent excuse.

But now I need to get back on track! Since we moved out of the city we don’t have the easy access to our favorite Indian restaurant, Tiffin, anymore. While this gives us good reason to go visit our friends and Chuffin (NBC’s Chuck and Tiffin nights) buddies Dave & Karyn, it also gives me a good reason to expand on my Indian recipe collection here on the site.

The other part of the grocery trip that the holidays inspired was saving a bit of money, so a few extra vegetarian meals seemed like a good plan. So we started with Chana Masala. I just ordered this the last time we got Tiffin, and my how they are different. Their version is smoky and stewy and very homey. This version inspired from a Food.com recipe was fiery and kicked your butt a bit. Nothing like clearing the sinuses on a snowy day. ūüôā I cannot wait to have it as leftovers. Curry is one of those things that just keeps getting better.

What You Need
Step One

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 medium onions, minced
~1 Tbsp ginger (about 1.5″ piece), minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
Step Two
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Step Three
15oz can whole tomatoes, chopped small
Step Four
2/3 cup water
2-15oz  cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Step Five
1 lemon, juiced

In a large skillet or saute pan heat oil over medium heat. Add all step one ingredients and cook about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium low and stir in all the spices. Allow to cook for a minute or two.

Stir in tomatoes, returning to medium heat and using the juices to scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the pan.

Add step four ingredients, and reduce heat to medium low, simmering uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and serve over hot rice.

Serves: 4-6   Cost: >$2/serving (for 4 servings, all organic ingredients!)

::more curry:: Coconut Basil Curry


Mother’s Day can’t be all about baked goods can it? ¬†My dad doesn’t like spicy at all, so this won’t be on our menu, but…IF I had a group of people to serve and I wanted to make everything ahead of time, this curry might do the trick. ¬†It only gets better with time. ¬†This is one of those recipes that inspired this site as well. ¬†I adapted it from my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. The first time we made it was around the time of our wedding. I may have made it a few times. ¬†Unfortunately, it as one of those recipes that I remembered what it tasted like, but didn’t remember where I found it or how to make it. ¬†So I hadn’t made it in years. ¬†I was so excited when I found it again! If you are making this a day in advance, I would wait to add the basil until ready to serve.

Someone felt like I was intruding on their space to take a photo of the basil – so I had to share. ¬†ūüôā

What You Need
Step One
2 lbs chicken, cut into bite size pieces
3 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper

Step Two
1 Tbsp olive oil
med-large red onion, chopped
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 or 2 jalepenos, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (depending on heat preference)
Step Three
1 can light coconut milk
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Step Four
handful of fresh basil, shredded
1.5-2″ piece of fresh ginger, grated

My trick for recipes that call for bite size chicken pieces is easy. ¬†When I buy chicken, I purchase whole chicken breasts. ¬†When I trim them and get them ready to freeze, I separate each breast, and I separate the tenderloins. ¬†I freeze the breasts together in pairs since that is normally what we need, and then all the tenderloins get thrown in together. ¬†When I have a recipe that calls for small pieces, I pull out the tenderloins and it save me a ton of time cutting. ¬†Typically, we buy 3-4 whole breasts at a time, so two “sets” are the perfect amount for a bigger recipe.

Ok! ¬†So – cut your chicken into bite size pieces and coat with the spices in step one. ¬†Cover and stick in the fridge. ¬†Let it sit for at least 30 minutes (I am not good at prepping in advance, so this is usually the most it gets from me). ¬†Up to a day is fine, the more the spices penetrate the chicken, the richer the flavor, but we like it with my 30 minute can’t prep style ¬†ūüôā

Heat oil over medium high heat in a wok or large skillet.  Add step two ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add a bit more oil to the pan and cook the chicken until no longer pink.  Cooking the chicken half at a time helps so that no pieces get over-cooked.  Remove chicken from the wok.

Combine coconut milk and cornstarch and pour into pan.  Use this to deglaze the pan if necessary and continue to cook until thick and bubbly.  Add everything back to the pan including your last ingredients (basil and ginger) and cook for about 2-3 more minutes to make sure everything is nice and hot.

Serve over hot white rice and enjoy!

Serves: 4     Cost: <$4/serving

::nice spice:: Hot Butter Chicken

I am not the best at posting recipes right away. ¬†I end up with a pile of images, and then have to catch up. ¬†Sometimes even forgetting what the meal actually was. ¬†This was a meal that I was prompted to write up immediately. ¬†Normally, I am cooking when PTB gets home, we eat dinner, and then it is time to spend the evening together. ¬†It is certainly not blogging time. ¬†But this meal. This meal, I was told I had to post because it was “exactly the taste he wanted in his mouth”. ¬†I showed him the recipe I based it on, explaining the things I changed. ¬†“Never make it according to that recipe, make it this way!” ¬†You get the point.

I love Indian food. ¬†PTB is usually reluctant to try anything new, but if I order for him he is fine. ¬†Somehow though, Tikka Masala has always been the choice over butter chicken. ¬†I think things may have changed. ¬†I was first inspired to make Butter Chicken by a¬†GoodLifeEats post. ¬†While looking through my endless list of recipes trying to find inspiration for a grocery list, I found the recipe posted on¬†This Week For Dinner. ¬†Jane’s dish was based on the recipe at¬†GoodLifeEats, but used a Tandoor style chicken rather than cooking the chicken in the sauce. ¬†After the positive reaction I had to the¬†Chicken Tikka Masala I made, I decided to mix the recipe up with that style chicken (I don’t like to make things ahead of time and that is a 30 minute marinade). ¬†Have I talked this up enough?

CHICKEN – can be prepped up to a day in advance
What You Need
Step One

6oz plain yogurt
3 cloves of garlic
2″ piece of ginger
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
Step Two
3-4 chicken breasts, or ~1.5lbs of chicken
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cloves
dash pepper

If you think the SlapChop is silly, look above for why I LOVE my Pampered Chef version.  Mincing garlic and ginger could not be EASIER.

In a small bowl, whisk together all step one ingredients and put in the fridge.

Pat chicken dry and coat on both sides with mixed spices.  Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (perfect to get everything else together)!

Step One
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 medium-large onion
2″ ginger
3 cloves of garlic
Step Two
1 can Fired Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
Step Three
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. coriander
smidgen of cinnamon
Step Four
3 oz tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
Step Five
1/2 cup cream
4 Tbsp butter

Chop up the onion, ginger, and garlic.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion, etc and cook until onion is clear (~2 min).  Add the can of tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

During your 5 minute break: Turn your broiler on high, and put a rack about 6″ from the heating element. ¬†Grab the chicken and yogurt out of the fridge. ¬†Start cooking your rice. ¬†Coat chicken with yogurt mixture, allowing extra to drip off and place on a rack in a baking pan. Place under broiler for 10-18 minutes. ¬†(Until chicken is 160 F internal).

Stir in all step three spices and simmer for 10 minutes. ¬†During the 10 minute break: Catch up if you missed anything during the 5 minute break! ¬†Add step four ingredients and stir. ¬†If you have an immersion blender, blend until smooth. ¬†If you don’t, place sauce in blender, blend until smooth, and return to pan.

Once the chicken is done, let sit for 5 minutes and then cut into 1-inch chucks.  Add chicken and step five ingredients to pan (still simmering).  Stir until all is combined, and serve over hot basmati rice and with naan!

I love the smooth flavor of butter chicken, but as I said, PTB likes it HOT, so I made the chicken a bit spicier. ¬†If you need it mild, simply half the spices in the chicken, and maybe don’t use green chile tomatoes in the sauce.

Serves: 4    Cost: $4/serving

::cooking for two:: Chicken Tikka Masala

I love Indian food. ¬†When it comes to curries, PTB is more likely to opt for a red curry from our favorite Thai restaurant. ¬†For some reason he seems to never be crazy about the idea of going out for Indian. ¬†Luckily, when I make something, he doesn’t question it. ¬†It either tastes good or it doesn’t. ¬†This recipe got a solid “When can we have this again?”.

I made this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two. ¬†One of my favorite things about this book is that for each recipe it goes through their trial and error to perfect the recipe. ¬†I feel like I learn a little bit with each recipe, rather than just following a recipe. ¬†What I learned from this recipe? ¬†This method for cooking chicken made it delicious, moist, and so incredibly easy. ¬†Why don’t I do this more often?!

What You Need
Step One

1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1″ piece of ginger, minced
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
Step Two
2 chicken breasts
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
dash of salt

In a small bowl, whisk together all step one ingredients and put in the fridge.

Pat chicken dry and coat on both sides with mixed spices.  Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to an hour (perfect to get everything else together)!

Step One

14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes
Step Two
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
small onion, minced
Step Three
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1″ ginger, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 small serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
Step Four
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Step Five
1/3 cup whole milk yogurt

Start by processing tomatoes in a food processor.  Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook onion until lightly brown.  Add all step three ingredients to the pan and cook until fragrant (only about 30 sec).

Add in processed tomatoes and step four ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, and cover, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.  While simmering, turn broiler on high, and position rack about 6 inches from heating element.

Dip chicken into yogurt mixture, coating thoroughly.  Position chicken breasts on rack over rimmed baking dish.  Place under broiler for 10-20 minutes, flipping halfway through, until heated to 160F at the thickest point.  Discard any remaining yogurt mixture.

After sauce has been simmering for 15 minutes, add yogurt in step five, and set aside keeping warm while the chicken finishes.

Once removed from the oven, let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before cutting into 1 inch chunks.  Stir into sauce and serve over hot basmati rice or with naan.   Optionally Рtop with some chopped cilantro for an extra burst of flavor!

Serves: 2   Cost: $4/serving

::save some for later:: Curried Lentils & Rice

I love lentils.  When I worked in the mall, my favorite mall food was the hole-in-the-wall Indian place in the scary food court.  Between their lentils and their chickpeas, I managed to sign up for the Vegetarian Meal Plan, and it as awesome.  At home, I love pretending I can make Indian food, and have made all sorts of curries, but I had yet to make a curried lentil dish.

I found a recipe in Saving Dinner when I was scrounging to make a recent grocery list. ¬†After some disappointing meals from that book, I thought it might be worth a try changing it up. ¬†I don’t want to outright bash that cookbook though. ¬†It is great for meal planning, probably especially if you have a family. ¬†For two people, I quickly learned, the recipe had to be GREAT, or it was going to waste. ¬†Most of these meals make about 6 servings. ¬†Lentils make for a cheap enough meal, so I gave it my best shot, and I am happy to say that while PTB was not crazy about it (vegetarian meals never get the ravest of reviews from him), he would eat it again. ¬†Better yet, it freezes well, and reheats VERY easily. ¬†So I have no problem making an entire pot just to freeze individual portions for me.

When I started this, I felt like I had learned enough to change EVERYTHING about it to make it something we would like. ¬†I think I did that quite successfully. ¬†The only thing I might do differently next time is use red lentils since they will make more of a stewed dish. ¬†The green lentils I used had their husks in tact, so it gave the dish a bit of crunch. ¬†But that wasn’t really a bad thing.

Ahhh – you can’t go wrong with curry powder & garam masala. ¬†For real. ¬†Ok! ¬†Time to get started!

What You Need
Step One

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
medium onion
Step Two
2 cups uncooked lentils
1 3/4 cup vegetable broth (chicken broth is in the original recipe, but I went for all vegetarian)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 clove garlic, minced
Step Three
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 cups water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
Step Four
one can diced tomatoes
Step Five
6oz plain yogurt
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Since most of this meal just simmers, I didn’t take a lot of prep shots. ¬†But it did provide some pretty ingredient pictures right? ¬†Start by slicing your onion ultra thin. ¬†In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. ¬†Add the onions to the pan and cook until perfectly caramelized. ¬†Probably about 10-15 minutes. ¬†You don’t need to watch them the entire time, just stir every now and then. ¬†So feel free to use that time to measure everything else out.

Once the onions are browned, remove from heat and set aside.  Add all step two ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and leave for 5-10 minutes.

Add all step three ingredients to the pan.  If there is not enough liquid to cover the rice, add just enough to cover.  Cover the pan and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, get out your Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes.  Seriously Рthese things are amazing.  For this recipe I went with roasted garlic.  This original recipe btw Рno real garlic.  WHAT?

I pureed my tomatoes a bit in my little cuisinart, leaving some texture, but I wanted it liquidy. ¬†Add this to the pan and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until rice and lentils are tender. ¬†Remember – if you used lentils that are not “shelled” they will have crunch no matter what!

Once everything is ready to go, add the onions, yogurt, and half the cilantro to the pan and serve. ¬†Use the other half of the cilantro to top each dish. ¬†It just looks prettier that way ¬†ūüôā

For each leftover portion, I added a bit of vegetable broth so that when I reheat it was just as moist as the original dish, without losing any flavor.

Serves: 6     Cost: less than $1/serving!!