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::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!)

::buy this:: Jalfrezi Simmer Sauce

The first few months of pregnancy I was lucky enough to not get too sick. And really my cravings weren’t out of control. I like to think I was just really good at listening to my body. For the first few weeks I lived on pizza and curry take out. It was an expensive month. In my first few attempts to go to the grocery store, I wondered the prepared foods aisle and came across a curry simmer sauce I had not noticed before.

We have been crazy about the Chicken Korma from our favorite Indian place Tiffin. Eventually I will try to make some myself, but theirs is just so good. And driving to go get it makes it so easy. In the meantime, while my laziness is getting the best of me and the takeout bills are getting too high, I have been experimenting with anything Korma I can find in the grocery store. Let me just tell you right now, nothing has come close to Tiffin’s.

The Seeds of Change Korma sauce is a great starter curry. If you want to introduce someone to curry and their fears of it being too spicy or smelly or just gross in general… this may be the way to go. It is a sweet curry and very coconut-y. Not at all what I was looking for in my curry. For me it wasn’t the one. PTB still enjoyed it, but since we both have to eat, that may be a no-buy for us in the future.

Despite the unsucessful night with the Korma simmer sauce, I was willing to give Seeds of Change another chance. They had a Jalfrezi simmer sauce calling my name. With no promises to be sweet or mild this “Medium-Hot” sauce lived up to its description. Was it as good as making a jalfrezi dish from scratch… that could be arguable. It has been a while since I made jalfrezi. Was it beyond easy and so worth it? Yes.

When I poured the sauce into the pan, I was expecting a smooth liquidy sauce to come out. I was thinking, maybe next time I will pick up some peppers to throw in. Unnecessary. Peppers and Onions were in the sauce. It was incredible. My only recommendation would be to skip the sautéing the chicken first. Just let it cook in the sauce so it absorbs all the flavors.It oonly makes preparing this dish easier.

Now I need to find a store that carries their Madras and Tikka Masala simmer sauces and I will be set. Or I could just buy it on Amazon and have it shipped to me. Oh Amazon Prime, I adore you.

::pretending to cook:: Chicken Tikka Masala


A few weeks ago, I posted a Tikka Masala recipe for two. ¬†We LOVED that dish. ¬†And really, I have never met a tikka masala I didn’t like. ¬†Have you noticed how WAY into Indian food I am lately? ¬†Ridiculous. ¬†Anyway! ¬†Since I love the chicken curry paste we keep stocked in the pantry, I was excited to try a new paste I discovered at the gigantic Whole Foods Plymouth Meeting. ¬†In all fairness…I do have to write it up, right?

First of all – prettier packaging. ¬†It got me to spend more than double! ¬†That’s about where the better ends. ¬†I didn’t notice a huge taste difference, and I was frustrated when I realized I also needed heavy cream…not just water.

Don’t get me wrong – it had a great flavor. ¬†It did not compare at all to my Tikka Masala for two, but it was decent. ¬†My last complaint – there is no way this serves four. ¬†Two servings…meaning between the paste, cream, potatoes, chicken, naan…it was a ~$10/serving meal? ¬†At that rate, I should at least make some effort. ¬†OR we could get Indian takeout and I wouldn’t have had to cook at all!

** I have not been paid for this post ‚Äď I just love food and wanted to share ¬†ūüôā

::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