Nick (of I'm Cookin' Here), this Indian spread included murgh makhani as the main course (a buttery chicken and tomato curry), a sugar pea and mushroom curry for the vegetarian in our little dinner party, garlic naan, paneer, lemon pickle, mango chutney, mint chutney, and mint lassi, a sweet Indian yoghurt drink that compliments spicy curries perfectly...
This is the third time I've made naan, a soft flat bread ubiquitous in Indian cuisine, and this time it was far better than the last two, but still not perfect. It would help if I had a partially subterannean stone oven, but Florida Palms Apartments despite being nice enough, do not yet offer this feature. I made do with dry-frying the flattened dough in my cast iron griddle, brushing with ghee and garlic, and sticking under the broiler for a couple minutes.
Nick made the paneer, the mango chutney, and the lemon pickle. The paneer is an Indian cheese that is made simply by straining the curds from the whey after adding white wine vinegar to lightly boiled milk. We sprinkled it on top of the curry. Delicious. The chutney was quite good as well.
The murgh makhani gave me the opportunity to finally use some of the spices I purchased at the farmers' market last week:
This recipe was one of a number of Indian dishes in "The Essential Wok Cookbook." I was skeptical at first, since they do not typically use woks in India and these recipes were obviously adapted for the wok in order to pad out the cookbook. But I have to say I was impressed. INot only was it delicious, but my wok is large enough that it was perfect for cooking curry for 10 people. You could just as easily use a large pot. I'm not quite sure why the recipe calls for all the spices and garam masala, since garam masala is made of all the other spices listed her, and perhaps a couple others. In any case, I might try it next time without the garam masala, and just adding more of the others. I'm beginning to really love fresh cardamom, so if anyone has a good recipe involving these little pods and seeds, please let me know.
2 Tbsps peanut oil
2 lbs. chicken thigh filets, quartered (I used some breast meat as well)
2 oz. ghee*
2 tsp. garam masala
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods, bruised
12 oz. pureed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cup cream
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1) Heat the wok or pot on high, add 1/2 the oil and swirl to coat. Add the chicken a bit at a time until brown, removing and setting aside, add more oil if needed to brown all the chicken pieces.
2) Reduce the heat to medium, add the ghee until melted, then add the spices and stir for a couple minutes. This will smell amazing. Return the chicken pieces and stir to coat in the spice mixture.
3) After a few minutes, add the tomatoes and sugar, simmer for 15 minutes
4) Stir in the yoghurt, cream, and lemon juice annd simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve with basmati rice, various chutneys, and naan or poppadoms.
*You can use regular old butter, but ghee is a delight to cook with because of its higher smoke point and has a wonderful flavor. Just melt a whole lot of butter in a small pot over medium heat, occasionally skimming the foam of the top until it is clear. Keep it going for at least 45 minutes, then run what is left through several layers of cheesecloth. Ghee!)