1.18.2007

Scrap Iron Chef Indian

I hosted the charming Mindy K. this past weekend in a girls’ day in. She brought a bottle of peach wine and took us out for ice cream, and I stuck to the things I do best: gossiping, cooking, and falling asleep during movies (was anyone else severely disappointed by the Pierce Brosnan version of The Thomas Crown Affair? I’m glad I didn’t miss much).
City suburbs can be tough for girls with discriminating palates and low budgets. So I challenged myself into making the meals we would’ve had, had we gone out to eat, and seeing what I could make the most of from my pantry and buying the least to supplement it. After perusing her hypothetical eating options, Mindy chose Coriander Indian Bistro and I started getting creative. Allez cuisine, indeed.

Spending just over ten bucks (woo woo) I gathered together a semi-authentic Indian dinner: chicken tikka masala, I learned, is apparently actually a British-Indian concoction, and the coconut milk is possibly just shy of blasphemy. The sticking point though was the garam masala – I didn’t have it, didn’t find it anywhere, and wasn’t going back to the grocery store after I realized there actually isn’t cardamom in my spice stash. I subbed in five-spice powder, which though cardamom-less, had fennel, ginger, clove, cinnamon and star anise, all ingredients which I’ve found in one version of garam masala or another. Min said it tasted as good if not better than the restaurant tikka masalas she’s had. As I’d never eaten it before, I can’t say the same, but it’s darn tasty stuff. I can’t decide if the cucumber salad needs more of a kick or not, but we nearly ate all of it anyhow: the peanuts are awesome and make it entirely different from the Thai cucumber salad I also love.
Yesterday while cruising Reading Terminal Market on a work errand, I located the elusive garam masala. My work handbag and my kitchen cabinet are now both wonderfully spicy-smelling, and I’m one more spice prepared for my next scrap Iron Chef experience. Bring on your challenges!

CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA
adapted from allrecipes.com

Marinade
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp or so red pepper flakes
ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
heaping ¼ tsp coriander seeds, crushed
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp five-spice powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 c plain non-fat yogurt
1 T lemon juice
1 T minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ¼ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin 2-inch long strips
sauce
8 oz tomato sauce
1 c light coconut milk
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
few dashes curry powder
cilantro (I just threw it in, maybe a tsp?)

For the marinade: mix all spices and stir until combined well. Stir in the garlic, ginger, lemon juice and yogurt and mix well. Place the chicken strips in a large plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Turn the chicken to coat. Seal the bag, squeezing out the air, and refrigerate for eight hours.
Preheat an indoor electric grill to medium.
In a saucepan set over medium-low heat, mix the sauce ingredients and heat, stirring, for twenty minutes. Do not boil.
When the grill is hot, remove strips and shake off marinade. Place chicken on the grill and cook for three minutes. Turn and cook for an additional three minutes. Check the chicken, cooking longer if necessary. As chicken strips are done, remove them from the grill to the saucepan and cook for two minutes, turning to coat in sauce. Serve hot.

INDIAN CUCUMBER-PEANUT SALAD
adapted from allrecipes.com

2 large cucumbers
salt
¼ red onion, thinly sliced and separated into strands
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice + more to taste
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp cilantro
3 Tbsp dry-roasted peanuts

Wash the cucumbers, cut off the ends, and halve lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Thinly slice and place in a colander in the sink or over a bowl. Add some salt and toss to combine. Let the cucumbers drain in the colander ten minutes.
In a bowl large enough to accommodate the cucumbers, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, sugar and cilantro. Add the onion strands and drained cucumbers and toss to coat. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

2 Comments:

Blogger melinda said...

woo woo for a cooking weekend :) Ate my Indian meal for another two meals - delish.

8:48 AM  
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1:07 PM  

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