Saturday, June 6, 2009

my path to decent homemade Indian food

Back when I was a skinny little girl I graduated from college and got a sweet tech writing job in Provo, helping to design educational activities that taught poor kids that honey is a viscous, and such. I went out on a few dates with a guy from my student ward named Hyrum . . . something. He was a nice boy, and the thing I'm most thankful to him for is taking me to the Bombay House for my very first taste of Indian cuisine. I fell instantly in love, not with Hyrum, but with the food.

Can I interrupt this story for a minute to tell you that John is right now using gaffer tape to patch the holes in his jeans? And they're really big holes, so the pants are mostly tape. Some people would just get a different pair of chore pants, but not him. I've told you about the "socks" he wears that are really just stirrups. It's a real problem.

So anyway, I fell in love with chicken curry and lamb tikka masala, garlic naan, basmati rice, and mango lassi. I have still never tried kurma, because of my whole sweet/savory issue, but recently I found lamb saagwala and pledged my troth. If I went to a food show, Indian food would be the best food of all the food. Okay, not really. Because I could not live without big, bloody steaks.

I think "All This Time" is a beautiful sad song. I'm just saying.

But have you had the experience that Indian food is sort of hard to make at home? Every recipe I tried for curry either tasted Japanese or made my mouth sad that it wasn't at the Bombay House. I've found some passable recipes, but still nothing that tastes exactly like I want it to. And you can imagine how well that sits with me, the do-it-myself food obsessive. But then! Behold, the power of the internet! I found a chicken tikka masala recipe over on the Pioneer Woman's site, and decided that we must eat it for dinner right now. So I made it, we invited Daniel and Sarah, and we did eat of the chicken tikka masala until we were stuffed to the gills. And it is incredible. I can say this, because I just followed the recipe, so it doesn't count as being a vain braggart. The tiny bit of leftovers are in the fridge right now calling to me and telling me how lucky they are to have found someone who's both pretty AND smart, but they would love me even if I looked like the Elephant Man. See how you need to eat this food?

Here's the recipe. Go. GO! I left out the serranos and did only a tiny bit of cayenne, because: wuss. Oh! And I used thighs, not breasts--sorry, Sarah. I forgot that part.

And here is the best recipe I've found so far for chicken curry. It's still not right, but it'll do for now.

Chicken Curry (from Nourishing Traditions--I know, smurfy)
cooked chicken meat, cut into bite-sized chunks (I used about 6 boneless, skinless thighs)
3 T butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 T turmeric
1 T ground fenugreek seeds
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t cayenne pepper (next time I will use way less)
1/2 t ground cloves (I did 1/4 t)
1 t ground coriander
1 t ground cardamom
2-3 C chicken stock
juice from 1-2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1 C piima cream or creme fraiche
1 can coconut milk (this is what I used)
7 oz. creamed coconut

Saute onions in butter until soft. Add spices and saute for a few minutes while stirring. Add chicken stock and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Stir in garlic and cream/coconut milk. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes to reduce the sauce. Stir in chicken and season to taste.


Sarah said...

People, Layne speaks truth. This chicken tikka masala was so, so, really so dang good. I'll tell you right now that I considered licking my plate. Instead, I just got a heaping pile of seconds. Yummyness! Also, I think John should use gaffer tape on any pair of his shorts, but only so long as he wears dark socks with said shorts.

highdeekay said...

I made chicken tikka masala on Friday and I was so excited as the kitchen began to smell delicious. I was sure I'd nailed it because the aroma was definitely right. Imagine my shock and horror on the first bite when what presented in my mouth was NOT right at all. I don't know where I went wrong but it was a sad moment. The naan I tried didn't turn out either - more sadness. I'm very excited to try your recipe and I am sure that you will pass along other Indian success stories (especially naan) as you have them. We'll have to have Indian food (Bombay or Indian Dive in Logan) while we're there in July.