Tag Archives: Indian

Updated: Almost Tandoori Chicken

16 Apr

** Update: now that I’ve been blogging for a year, I thought it was time to improve the shabby photos on my first post. As my photography skills improve, and/or I run out of new ideas, it’s possible this post will recycle itself yet again! So if you missed this recipe the first time around, I hope you enjoy it. **

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Recipe Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray

This recipe is “ala Jen” primarily because of mistakes. The first time I made it, I did not have turmeric, so I used garam masala* instead, figuring something along the lines of “it’s Indian, it will work.” Also, in the course of halving the recipe, I forgot to halve the measurement for cumin. But I was still really happy with the result.

The second time I made it, I followed the recipe to a tee and didn’t like it as much. So what I’m giving you here is my version, including turmeric and garam masala, and twice the amount of cumin RR thinks is fittin’. I tend to be a fan of spices in general. But I guess the moral of the story is, you can’t really mess up this recipe. And don’t worry – it has a lot of spices, but it is not spice-y.

The recipe calls for chicken thighs, but I have used breasts in a pinch and they work fine. First, you’ll be making a yogurt-spice mixture to coat the chicken. I wouldn’t recommend substituting regular yogurt for the Greek, as the texture of Greek is just… well, phenomenal. It’s thick and will cling to your chicken like this recipe will cling to your thighs. (No, not really!) If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, you can pick up the yogurt as well as the naan I’m going to talk about later. To zest the lime, you can use a cheese grater or a microplane grater. I just got my microplane and I’m loving it!

turmeric, cumin, coriander, lime zest et. al.

Coat the chicken in the yogurt mixture, then roast it on a rack in a preheated 500 degree F oven. Since I don’t own a roasting rack, I put a cooling sheet over a foil-lined cake pan, like this! Like a charm.

yogurty marinated chickeny bits of goodness

While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the apple-tomato topping. This topping might seem improbable, but trust me, it is perfect. So, sooo perfectly wonderful with this chicken. I like to use my trusty apple-peeler-corer-slicer for this task.

apples & tomatoes

To serve, I like this with a dressed-up naan from Trader Joe’s. I like to buy their whole wheat naan, or if that’s not available, multigrain. Then I brush the top with olive oil, some fresh minced garlic and fresh cilantro, and toast at 350 degrees F for about 5-10 mins. Ahhh, heaven.

Rachael Ray's Almost Tandoori Chicken

RECIPE – Almost Tandoori Chicken

1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced into matchsticks
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and very thinly sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
4 pieces naan bread, plain or flavored, store-bought, warmed

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Combine the yogurt with the spices and zest of lime in a large bowl.

Cut the chicken into large chunks and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add to the yogurt mixture and toss to coat evenly. Put a small wire rack on a baking sheet or a slotted broiler pan. Arrange the chicken on the rack or slotted pan and roast until charred at the edges and juices run clear, about 15 minutes.

Combine the apple, tomatoes and scallions in a serving bowl. Add the lime juice, oil, and salt and pepper, to taste, and toss to combine.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and serve with apple-tomato topping and warm bread.

Serves 4.

*If you can’t find garam masala, you can make it yourself using this recipe. San Diegans, I recommend buying it in bulk at Henry’s – you can get a small amount for a small price, then decide if you need to buy more. Black Mountain Road, off Miramar, also has some great Indian markets!


Carrot Halwa (Gajar Halwa)

18 Aug

Recipe source: La Fuji Mama

A couple months back, I found the good fortune of finding this blog, and this recipe on it. It is now a favorite I will be making often, as well as taking to parties, as many won’t know it.

This recipe is slightly time-consuming, but ultimately easy. You start with carrots…

The original recipe makes a huge portion and calls for 2 lbs of carrots. I halved it for just myself, so this is 1 lb of carrots. The first thing to do is grate them. You can use the large holes of a cheese grater for this task. Or…

I would like to take this opportunity to mention my lovely food processor, which is the bees knees. Look at this! It grates carrots. SO worth the few dishes of cleanup afterward. It may be hard to tell, but this is an “action shot,” for which I went to the trouble of setting up my camera on a stack of books, with the self-timer feature… I love my food processor just that much.

Look at this beautiful pile of grated carrots!

Dump these along with some milk into a large pot or pan with sides. This will get cooked down on medium heat until most of the milk is gone (about 30 minutes). Although Fuji Mama’s recipe says the carrots soak up the milk, I’m not fully convinced this happens… it is more likely the milk evaporting, which seems like a waste to me. The second time I made this, I cut back on the amount of milk, from 4 cups to 3. I could probably cut it down even more. But I do have a suggestion for what to do with the extra milk, which I’ll come back to.

In the meantime, I suggest you make your ghee (or begin gently warming it). My second time around with this recipe I decided to make proper ghee, since
1) I can’t find it at the grocery store nearby
2) I made clarified butter last time (which I suspect is cheating)
and 3) my mom sent me this recipe.

In the process, I learned that ghee is definitely NOT the same as clarified butter or oil. It’s brown and has a wonderfully rich, carmely taste. Although the halwa only calls for 3 tablespoons of ghee, I made the ghee with a whole stick of butter. The ghee will keep in a jar for a month, and supposedly does not need to be refrigerated, although I’m a chicken and refrigerated mine anyway… I’m looking forward to using it in other things, maybe even sauteeing veggies with it. In short, do yourself a favor and MAKE THIS.

This is what I got after straining. My Indian friends reading this blog and kindly confirm if it is, in fact, ghee. I think it is?! A word of advice – strain with cheesecloth. My seive was not fine enough, though I don’t mind the small brown bits too much.

As the milk in the carrots evaporates, the carrots will get a slightly dessicated, toasty look to them, but they should not brown. When most of the milk is gone – or you lose patience – add dry milk powder, sugar, and cardamom seeds. (I have to admit, this recipe makes me very excited to use up this huge box of powdered milk I acquired when trying my hand at another Indian dessert, gulab jamun.)  I used half the sugar of the original recipe in this halwa and liked it that way (the 1 cup measurement below is half). So start small and add to taste if you don’t have a huge sweet tooth.

For those who are thinking of substituting ground cardamom for seeds, do if you must, but… I have tried this with both, and the difference was remarkable. The seeds give this dish a bite that can’t be beat! The ground stuff really does not compare. (San Diegans, you can buy pods or seeds in bulk at Henry’s.) The downside to using seeds is that biting into them is a bit like biting into a peppercorn – not my favorite thing in the world. It might work to freshly grind them in a coffee maker… they are pretty impervious to a mortar and pestle… I might keep working on this one. But trust me, use the seeds.

Let the carrots, dry milk powder, sugar and cardamom simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Taste and add more sugar and cardamom as desired. If your carrots are still very liquidy, strain them into a bowl to save for later. This liquid is delicious mixed with yogurt for a light smoothie. Immediately add warm ghee to the carrot mixture and return to heat for a few minutes, mixing all ingredients together to lightly brown.

To serve, remove from heat and garnish with chopped nuts (usually pistachios, cashews or almonds). Carrot halwa can be served in a bowl or pressed into a mold and shaped. Serve warm.

RECIPE – Nirvana’s Carrot Halwa

Makes 8-10 servings

2 pounds grated carrots
3 cups milk
1 cup granulated sugar, or more to taste
1 2/3 cup dry powdered milk
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
3 tablespoons ghee
Optional: Cashews or crushed pistachios for garnish.

1. Put the carrots and milk in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring frequently until the milk is absorbed into the carrots.

2. Add the sugar, dry powdered milk, and cardamom seeds to the pot.  Stir everything together and cook the mixture for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat, and set aside.

3. In a large frying pan, heat the ghee over high heat, then add the carrot mixture.  Cook and stir until the mixture turns a golden brown, then remove it from the heat and serve.  The halwa can be served in bowls, or pressed into a mold to be shaped.  Optional: cashews or crushed pistachios can be used as a garnish.

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

24 Apr

Recipe source: 101 Cookbooks

Today it’s warm and beautiful outside, in the high 70s, but it rained for three days last week. So, I have decided that spring is the most capricious of the seasons – the weather can’t decide if it wants to be winter or summer! The days are probably running out for making this recipe, but I think it’s still perfect for colder days. And as for the hot days, you could argue that this soup is light, so you will feel nourished after eating it, without feeling weighed down. Anyway, you should make it. The combination of coconut milk, toasted curry, and fresh, spicy ginger just makes me happy inside. I’m so grateful to Heidi at 101 Cookbooks for posting it on her blog. I wouldn’t change a thing! Except maybe doubling it. 🙂  (Jump straight to recipe.)

The recipe uses yellow split peas and red split lentils. I bought mine in bulk at Henry’s. The nice thing about lentils is you don’t have to soak them overnight like you would beans, so this recipe doesn’t require a lot of advance prep.


First, you will rinse the peas and lentils as you would rice, until the water runs clear. Then add them to a large soup pot with 7 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add a diced carrot (or two… or three) and some fresh ginger. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, toast curry powder in a small skillet, and saute butter, green onions, ginger, golden raisins, and tomato paste in another skillet. Now. I feel compelled to tell you at this point that you might want to buy some pre-packaged raisins. The second time we made this soup, we used raisins we bought in bulk, and they were almost twice the size of the raisins I’m used to buying. “Score!” you might think. Except that in the finished soup, when you bite into one that has reconstituted to the size of a green grape, you will find it odd, if even a little disturbing. The sweet addition is nice in the recipe, but grapes – I think not.

Lastly, add the toasted curry powder, tomato paste mixture, coconut milk, and salt to the lentils. Simmer, uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until the soup has reduced to a desired consistency. If you prefer a “soupier” soup, you can add warm water incrementally.


We served this soup with a nutty, oaty toasted brown bread, but you can also serve it with brown rice, as Heidi suggests.

RECIPE – Coconut Red Lentil Soup
1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup red split lentils (masoor dal)
7 cups water
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons butter or ghee
8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
one small handful cilantro, chopped
cooked brown rice or farro, for serving (optional)

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse, until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don’t want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency. The thicker this soup got, the more I liked it.

Sprinkle each bowl generously with cilantro and the remaining green onions.

Serves 6.

Chicken Makhani

21 Mar

A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat.
~Old New York Proverb

Here’s a recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, The Pioneer Woman. This is a traditional Indian dish also called Butter Chicken, but that name doesn’t sound nearly as appetizing to me. Plus, the recipe doesn’t call for much butter. I know, I know, who am I to question the chefs of India? But just humor me, mmkay? Chicken Makhani.

This recipe is easy, but not necessarily fast, so you’ll want to plan ahead. First, you make a marinade with lime juice, garlic and spices. Let chicken sit 4-6 hours, or overnight. I filleted the chicken because the breasts seemed so thick, but it turned out a little dry. So I’d recommend just throwing the breasts in the marinade as they are.

Sauté a chopped onion in butter until soft. I suppose you could use a white onion for this, but I usually use yellow because they are milder and make me cry less. Next, add the marinated chicken breasts and cook for about 10 minutes. Mmmm.

Right about now, you’ll want to start your rice. We didn’t have any basmati rice, so we used plain white rice seasoned with a little salt, pepper and saffron. YUM! To the chicken and onions, add a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes, then cover and cook on a medium-low flame for about 30 minutes. Turn off heat, add cream and fresh cilantro, and serve over rice.

6 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 1/2 lbs)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 whole lime, juiced
1 whole onion, diced
1/4 cup butter
1 (14.5 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1 pint whipping cream
1 bunch chopped cilantro, to taste
2 cups basmati rice

Combine first 9 ingredients and marinate overnight.

Saute the onion in the butter until soft. Add marinated chicken and cook about 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat with the lid on. Add the whipping cream and cilantro just before serving over rice.

Note: this is a little spicy, but you can cut back on the cayenne if you want.

A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat.

~Old New York Proverb