Tag Archives: Indian

Julie Sahni’s Gosht Kari

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I’m not big on cookbooks.  I know, I know, it’s the same complaint we all have.  I love looking through them, and I daydream about having bookcases filled with cookbooks.  But those daydreams generally go like this: leisurely flipping through a couple of cookbooks while enjoying a late morning cup of coffee and Tartine croissant, and then casually spending the rest of the day shopping for and cooking whatever I picked out that morning,  then upon serving the meal to friends and loved ones, having it gushed over and praised to high heavens during a cozy family meal. Not exactly reality.

The reality is that when I check out a cookbook from the library or actually purchase one and bring it home, I rarely make it beyond flipping through the pages and reading the headnotes.  I’ve been known to make a list of the recipes that look good and copy down ingredient lists and instructions in shorthand out of library books, usually when the book is already 2 or 3 days past due and I’m feeling guilty about not cooking from the book in the last 3 weeks, let alone returning it on time.  Or when I’m feeling guilty about the books I’ve bought and never actually cooked from, I’ll bust out the little sticky flags and mark what looks good- but I usually don’t try more than one or two recipes, even if they’re great.

What’s the deal? I’ve decided I’m stuck in a vicious cycle, one that  most of us find ourselves in now and then: kitchen comfort.  We become content with the repertoire of meals we’ve amassed that not only fall within our resource constraints but that our family will readily eat.  We’re secure in the same list of the ingredients to add to the unwritten weekly shopping list, the ability to fall-back on old favorites on a Wednesday night when you walk in the door late and everybody’s hungry already.  Cooking becomes easy.  As the wife of a picky eater and a woman who refuses to eat most prepackaged and processed “foods,” I’ve struggled over the last few years to expand my List of Acceptable and Realistic Suppers.  Picking up a cookbook and flipping to a new recipe might entail ingredients I don’t already have in the cupboards or that we won’t eat, or flavors that we might not like.  I’ve become lethargic, and who wants to cook when the words “supper” and “boring” become synonyms?

So in this context of boredom and hesitance, thank goodness somebody mentioned Julie Sahni.  Seriously.  I’ve been hugely lacking in cooking inspiration and motivation, and this woman delivered exactly the swift kick in the you-know-what that I needed.  I picked up Classic Indian Cooking at the library last week and spent a few evenings flipping through the pages, trying to pick out a recipe or two to try over the weekend.  I wanted to stick with something fairly basic, which is always hard to discern from looking at ingredient lists for most Indian cooking – so many spices and aromatics!  The first one I picked was Gosht Kari, or meat curry, which boasts a relatively short list of ingredients, all things I knew I could easily get.  I made a quick trip for ground coriander and fresh cilantro, but otherwise had the rest of the ingredients already.

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The recipe starts with familiar actions: browning of beef, chopping of onions, mincing ginger and garlic.  “I can handle this,” I told myself, feeling a boost of confidence at the rhythms of the familiar.  As onions turned from white to pale to golden, I measured out fragrant spices.  As the dish started to come together, the smell was almost breathtaking.  These were smells that I’d never had coming from my own kitchen!  While the braise simmered on the stovetop, I peeled potatoes, sipped a glass of wine, soaked the rice.  Before I even tasted it, I knew it was going to be amazing.  The mix of confidence and novelty was coursing through me.  I was excited.  And better yet, I was salivating.  It smelled delicious.

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It also didn’t hurt that the meal was utterly fantastic.  Warm and hearty textures and a complex flavor profile.  I had to have more.  The next day, I flipped open the book again and settled on Mughalai Korma, or Moghual braised chicken, with saag to accompany (pictured above).  The mix of ginger, cardamom, cloves, and coriander in the chicken sounded intriguing and delicious.  Again the process felt comfortable, and again the smells from stovetop were phenomenal.  It goes without saying that all three dishes were great.  Honestly, the saag was my least favorite; I’m not a huge fan of cooked spinach, but the combo of cumin seed and garam masala was quite nice, and the potatoes were decadent.  In any case, two out of three keepers is hardly failure!  Both the chicken and the beef dishes will be made again in very soon order, and this book is going to be added to my bookshelf pronto… only this time, I don’t intend to ignore it.

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Julie Sahni’s Gosht Kari
very barely adapted from Classic Indian Cooking

Serves 6 as a main dish with rice, or 8 with side dishes

8 tablespoons ghee
3 pounds boneless beef or lamb, trimmed well and cut into 1-inch cubes
2-3 meaty beef or lamb bones (I used the bones I cut out of my roast along with an oxtail)
4 small onions or 2 large onions (about 4 cups chopped)
4 cloves garlic (about 4 teaspoons minced)
3-4 inches fresh ginger (about 3 tablespoons minced)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes, or 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 pound of potatoes, about 4 medium-sized
chopped cilantro for serving

Place a heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat with 4 tablespoons of ghee.  While the oil is heating, pat the meat cubes dry to help browning.  Once the oil is very hot, brown some of the meat cubes, being careful not to crowd the meat (this will cause steaming instead of browning).  Brown the meat in batches, removing browned meat to a plate with a slotted utensil.  Once the meat is browned, add the bones to the pot and lightly brown them as well, then place them on the plate with the meat.  While browning the meat, finely chop the onions.

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of ghee to the pot and scrape the bottom to release the stuck on bits of meat.  Add the onions and brown them, stirring frequently to avoid burning and sticking.  While browning the onions, mince or grate the garlic and the ginger, and measure out the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red pepper into small bowl.  Put a kettle with about 5 cups of water on to boil.

When the onions are a dark golden brown, add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute, stirring almost constantly.  Add the spices and continue to fry and stir vigorously for about 30 seconds.  Return the browned meat and the bones to the pot, pouring in any juice that the meat had released onto the plate.  Also add the tomatoes, salt, and 4 cups of boiling water; stir to combine.  Bring to a boil; then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally

While the dish is simmering, peel the potatoes and cut into quarter (for medium potatoes), or approximately 2 x 3 inch pieces.  (If serving with rice and forgoing the resting time, this is also a good time to rinse/soak your rice.)  After 90 minutes, add the potatoes and stir; then recover and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and meat are both tender.  Julie says to let the dish rest for at least 30 minutes but preferably 2 hours; I was starving by the time it was ready and let it rest for a mere 15 minutes and it was fantastic as-is.  Before serving, remove the bones and check for salt, then reheat to a simmer.  Serve with rice and/or bread and chopped cilantro.  Leftovers are even better in the following days, though Julie suggests freezing if not eating within 3 days in the refrigerator.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Fall, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Winter

Chicken tikka masala with gluten-free naan

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I married a man who doesn’t like flavorful food.

That’s maybe a little harsh.  He doesn’t like what he calls “ethnic food.”  What he’s referring to is any food that has specific/bold flavors.  No Chinese, no Thai, no Indian.  He likes American fare: burgers, meatloaf, potatoes and chips and cheese.  Basic tacos or enchiladas on flour tortillas and some stereotypical German foods make up the cultural boundaries of his palate.  He doesn’t even like wine.

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The woman behind the checkout counter at the grocery store last night couldn’t imagine.  She had identified the spice blend in the little self-serve baggie on sight- “Is this garam masala? I can tell just by looking at it, I cook with it that much!”  I told her it was for this chicken tikka masala that I was making this weekend, as my husband didn’t like it but he was gone.  “You married somebody who doesn’t like chicken tikka masala?!” she asked incredulously.  I sighed.

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I spent the last week in D.C., and without making a conscious effort, I ate things he wouldn’t have almost every night.  Lamb boti kabob and kachumbar, clam pizza, authentic Mexican, spicy kim chi, oysters on the half shell.  I drank way too much wine.

And as I waited in the airport on Friday afternoon, I had a serious hankering for butter chicken.  My blog feed included this chicken tikka masala recipe though, and despite it’s long list of ingredients and long marinating time, I decided that fate wanted me to tackle it on Saturday.  I didn’t go with the typical rice as a side; instead I had a small but flavorful mound of fresh fava beans, and I also experimented (barely) with gluten-free naan— and much to my surprise, it worked just fine.  My old stand-by naan recipe is AP flour + plain yogurt + a bit of salt and baking powder in a hot cast iron skillet, so I subbed in Trader Joe’s gluten-free all purpose flour.  While it probably won’t win any awards for World’s Best Naan, it was hot and chewy and good for soaking up the rich sauce.

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Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 4
Adapted from Bon Appetit via The Bitten Word

This isn’t a particularly spicy chicken tikka masala.  If you like more heat, add additional pepper flakes, or use dried chiles de arbol instead. I also realize the addition of raisins is out of the ordinary, but I love the extra sweetness and chew.

6 garlic cloves, finely grated
3-4 inches of finely grated peeled ginger, about 4 teaspoons
4 teaspoons ground turmeric
4 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons ghee
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 cardamom pods, opened up and seeds crushed, or approximately 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup raisins

Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk together yogurt, salt, and half of spice mixture in a medium container with a lid; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.

An hour before you plan to eat, melt the ghee in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and chiles and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes.  Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot.  Then add cream, water, raisins, and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, preheat your grill or broiler. If using the broiler, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet.   Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it may not be cooked through), about 10 minutes.  Flip and broil on the other side for 5 minutes.  If using a grill, preheat to medium high, between 400 and 500 degrees and grill for 6-8 minutes on each side, until it begins to blacken.  Again, it may not be cooked through, but that’s okay.  (I used the broiler method.)

Allow the chicken to cool for a few minutes.  Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, add to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Serve with rice and sprinkle with cilantro (both are optional).

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Gluten-free Naan
Adapted from Food.com

2 cups Trader Joe’s Gluten-free all purpose flour blend, or your favorite gluten-free flour blend
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)
Coconut oil for frying

Whisk together flour blend, salt, and baking powder.  Stir in yogurt, and then use hands to kneed together a bit.  The dough will be sticky and even paste-like, but don’t fret yet.  Heat 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high.  Preheat the pan for at least 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, split the dough into 8 equal pieces, and then roll or press each piece out between saran wrap.  Fry each piece for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Add additional coconut oil to the fan as frying.  Set each piece on a towel or paper towel to rest, and serve warm.

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Filed under Breads, Chicken, Gluten-Free, Main dishes