Meera Sodha’s Chicken Curry

I received a rice cooker for Christmas! I had to make some sort of chicken dish to serve with my perfectly cooked rice. 🙂

This comforting chicken curry was very thick and hearty. The recipe was adapted from Made in India: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen by Meera Sodha. I also included some of Sam Sifton’s adaptations from The New York Times.

The dollop of yogurt on top was essential. We also ate it with warm naan, roasted cauliflower and steamed spinach.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 2 T unsalted butter or ghee
  • 1 T neutral oil, like canola
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, approximately 2 inches long
  • 2 large white or yellow onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 2 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled with a spoon and grated or minced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 green cayenne or jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp chili powder)
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons strained or purĂ©ed tomatoes (I used Pomi)
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 T whole-milk yogurt, plus 1 cup to serve with the meal
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 T ground or slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • pinch ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups brown Basmati rice, rinsed and cooked per package directions
  1. Melt the butter or ghee in the oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat, and when it is hot and shimmering, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks. Cook for a minute or two, stirring often, to intensify their flavors.
  2. Add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic and chilies into a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt; smash them together into a coarse paste. (You can also do this on a cutting board, with a knife.) (I had a bit of a struggle with this! May try the cutting board method next time.)
  4. Add the paste to the onions, and cook gently for 2 minutes or so, then pour in the tomatoes, and stir. Allow to cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
  5. Add the tomato paste, ground cumin, ground turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; stir to combine.
  6. Add the yogurt slowly to the mixture, using a wooden spoon to whisk it into the sauce. It may be quite thick. When it begins to bubble, add the chicken.
  7. Lower the heat, put the lid on the Dutch oven and allow the curry to cook gently for 30 minutes or so, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  8. Add the almonds and the garam masala, along with a pinch of cayenne, and cook for 5 minutes more or so. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed.
  9. Serve with basmati rice and/or naan, and the additional yogurt for topping at the table.

Ottolenghi’s Butternut Squash Lasagna Pie

This special pie was the perfect way to use my CSA butternut squash and the very last leaves of my homegrown basil. The incorporation of cumin and coriander seeds gave it a unique flavor profile. Fancy comfort food. 🙂

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. Lovely.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

For the Pie:

  • 4 T olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan (I used cooking oil spray on the pan)
  • 10 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 T cumin seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 T coriander seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 2 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
  • 1 (9 to 12-ounce) jar red peppers, drained
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, halved, deseeded and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (I used a mandoline to slice the squash)
  • 8 ounces dried lasagna noodles, each roughly broken into 3 or 4 pieces (I used oven-ready no-boil lasagna)
  • 7 ounces baby spinach (10 lightly packed cups)
  • 1 packed cup basil leaves, torn in halves
  • 1 cup crumbled Greek feta
  • heaping 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

For the BĂ©chamel:

  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 5 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, plus more if needed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9-inch springform cake pan then line it with a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the base and hang over the sides by a couple inches. (I used cooking oil spray.) Place pan on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
  3. Add the oil to a small frying pan and heat over medium. Once it’s hot, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring until fragrant but not browned.
  4. Add the tomato paste, cumin, coriander and chile flakes and cook for 1 minute more, stirring often, until deeply red. Set aside to cool slightly.
  5. Add tomato paste mixture to a small food processor with the red peppers, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper; blitz until smooth. (I did this in 2 batches.)
  6. Empty the mixture into a very large bowl and add the squash slices, lasagna pieces, spinach, basil, feta, Parmesan, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and a good grind of pepper. Use your hands to make sure everything is nicely coated.
  7. Transfer this mixture to your lined cake pan, adding a third at a time and pressing lightly to ensure everything is even and compact.
  8. Using heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap the cake pan all around until tightly sealed, place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.
  9. Toward the last 15 minutes of baking time, make the béchamel: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking steadily, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it starts to smell like popcorn.
  10. Slowly pour in the milk 1/2 cup at a time, whisking with each addition until fully incorporated.
  11. Add the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Use a spatula to stir and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to ensure the bottom doesn’t scorch, until nice and smooth.
  12. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan. *If the pie isn’t done, cover the top with a piece of parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming. The bĂ©chamel is easier to handle when warm; if needed, reheat gently with a splash of milk to loosen.*
  13. After the pie has cooked for 1 hour, remove it from the oven and carefully unwrap the top foil and paper, crinkling it down and around the sides of the pan to expose the top.
  14. Spoon the béchamel on top, using a spatula to distribute it evenly over the surface. (Take care not to mix it with the base; you want the béchamel to remain white.)
  15. Turn the oven temperature up to 450 degrees, preferably on convection, and place the cake pan back on its baking sheet and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until nicely browned on top.
  16. Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  17. Carefully release the pie from the springform pan, loosening the outer ring then using the parchment to help lift it onto a serving plate or board. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Mixed Vegetable Curry (Mix Sabji)

This dish could be made with any assortment of leftover vegetables in the refrigerator. It was healthy and flavorful.

The recipe was adapted from Chetna’s 30 Minute Indian: Quick and Easy Everyday Meals by Chetna Makan. I must mention that prepping all of the vegetables was not taken into account when including this dish in a 30-minute meal cookbook! I did double the recipe though. It was worth the extra time.

I served it over brown Basmati rice with warm naan on the side. Topping it with cucumber raita was also suggested in the original recipe.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 T canola or sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded, if desired
  • 6 garlic cloves, grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp amchur (mango powder) or tamarind concentrate
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 200 ml (7 oz) boiling water

For the Vegetables:

  • 4 T canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 12 oz green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

To Serve: (as desired)

  • brown Basmati rice
  • warm flatbread such as naan
  • cucumber raita or whole milk plain yogurt
  1. If desired, mince the jalapeños and garlic in a food processor; remove and set aside. Chop the onions in a food processor; set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan (with a lid available) and add the cumin and mustard seeds as well as the bay leaves.
  3. Once the spices start to sizzle, add the chopped onions with the jalapeños and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until golden.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the oil for the vegetables in a large frying pan.
  6. Add all of the vegetables and cook them over medium to high heat for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly colored.
  7. Stir the salt, ground spices and sugar into the onions with the tomatoes and cook for a minute.
  8. Add the vegetables and pour in the boiling water.
  9. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.
  10. Serve with rice and/or flatbread, as desired. Top with yogurt or raita, if desired.

One-Pot Chicken & Farro with Caramelized Leeks

This is another weeknight one-pot chicken dinner. I loved the colorful and fresh topping- I would add even more next time! This dish also incorporated farro which is one of my absolute favorites. It could appropriately be served any time of year.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used sherry vinegar in the topping and modified the proportions and method. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 6) or use whole legs
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large or 3 medium leeks
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel or coriander seeds, cracked with a mortar and pestle or the side of a chef’s knife
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, cracked with a mortar and pestle or the side of a chef’s knife
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups pearled or semi-pearled farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro)
  • 1+ cup quartered or halved cherry or grape tomatoes or diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped
  • fresh lime or lemon juice, or vinegar, to taste, such as cider vinegar or sherry vinegar (I used 1-2 T sherry vinegar)
  1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Season all over with salt and pepper, and set aside while preparing the leeks.
  2. Trim roots from leeks, then cut away any wilted, yellowing or browned parts from the greens. Slice leeks in half lengthwise. Wash well under cold running water to remove any soil, then shake dry. (I soak them in a bowl of water.)
  3. Thinly slice the leeks (including the greens) into half-moons. You should have about 6 cups. Measure out about 2 tablespoons of sliced leek whites and set them aside for garnish.
  4. In a large skillet with a lid, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. (I used a wide and low enameled cast iron skillet.)
  5. When the oil thins and coats the bottom of the pan, add half the chicken and cook until browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes on the first side ad 3 to 5 minutes on the second side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Stir in the leeks and a pinch of salt. Sauté until tender and golden brown, 9 to 10 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic and cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Stir in crushed spices, thyme sprigs and tomato paste, and cook until tomato paste darkens and caramelizes, 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Pour in chicken stock and bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  10. Stir in farro and 1 teaspoon salt. When the liquid comes to a simmer, nestle in the browned chicken, skin-side up; pour in any juices from the plate. Cover pan and let cook until the farro is tender and the chicken is cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss together the reserved leek whites, chopped tomatoes and parsley. Season to taste with salt, pepper and an acid like lemon or lime juice or vinegar. (I used sherry vinegar.) The mixture should taste tangy and bright.
  12. Discard the thyme sprigs, and serve chicken and farro topped with the tomato mixture.

Creamy Tadka Dal with Roti

IMG_2657

I loved the combination of textures and colors from the mix of beans in this creamy dal. The recipe was a “staff favorite” in Food and Wine, contributed by Antara Sinha. It was included an article titled “Good to the Last Sop: Cozy Dinners That Deliver Endless Comfort.” The original recipe includes instructions to make homemade roti to serve with the dal to sop it up. 🙂

We ate this dish with store-bought roti but I included the roti recipe from the original article below. I wish I had made the homemade roti because we tragically did not enjoy the store-bought version. (Homemade is always better!) I served the dal over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. Hearty and delicious vegetarian comfort food.

For the Dal:

  • 3/4 cup dried moong dal (split yellow mung beans) (about 5Âœ ounces) 
  • 3/4 cup dried masoor dal (split red lentils) (about 5 ounces) 
  • 3/4 cup dried chana dal (split bengal gram) or dried toor dal (split pigeon peas) (about 5Ÿ ounces) 
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric 
  • 6 to 7 cups water, divided 
  • 1 œ tablespoons canola oil 
  • 4 green cardamom pods, crushed, shells discarded 
  • 4 whole cloves 
  • 1 Œ teaspoons cumin seeds  
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)  
  • 2 medium-size fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired, and finely chopped (about 2 1/2 tablespoons) 
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped (about 1 cup) 
  • ÂŒ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish 

For the Roti:

  • 2 cups atta (Indian whole-wheat flour) (about 8 5/8 ounces), plus more for dusting 
  • 3/4 to 1 cup water, divided 
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • melted ghee, for brushing 

For the Tadka:

  • 3 tablespoons ghee 
  • 3 small dried chiles (such as Diaspora Co. Whole Sannam Chillies), or more to taste (I used Bird’s Eye)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

To Serve:

  • brown Basmati rice, optional
  • steamed spinach, optional

To Start the Dal:

  1. Stir together moong dal, masoor dal, chana (or toor) dal, salt, turmeric, and 6 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. (I used a medium enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low; partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until dal is soft and tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Add up to remaining 1 cup water, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired thickness and consistency is reached.

To Make the Roti Dough:

  1. Stir together atta, 3/4 cup water, and salt in a medium bowl. Knead mixture in bowl until all dry flour is incorporated, adding remaining 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to incorporate flour.
  2. Transfer dough to a clean work surface; knead until stretchy and slightly sticky, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Shape dough into a ball, and return to bowl. Cover with a clean towel; let stand at room temperature until dough is smooth and matte, about 30 minutes.

To Season the Dal:

  1. Heat oil in a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium.
  2. Add cardamom, cloves, and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.
  3. Add onion and chopped fresh chiles; cook, stirring often, until onion is lightly browned around edges, 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add tomato; cook, stirring often, until tomato begins to break down, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add tomato mixture and cilantro to dal mixture; stir to combine. Season to taste with salt.
  6. Cover and keep warm over low.

To Cook the Roti:

  1. Once roti dough has rested, turn out onto a work surface lightly dusted with atta.
  2. Divide dough evenly into 16 pieces (about 1 ounce each).
  3. Working with 1 dough piece at a time and keeping remaining pieces covered with a towel, shape dough into a ball. Dust ball thoroughly with atta, and flatten slightly. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a circle until uniformly thin and about 6 inches in diameter. Rotate the disk 90 degrees after each roll, flipping and dusting with atta occasionally to make a perfect circle. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.
  4. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high. Place 1 roti round in skillet; cook until bubbles start to form and bottom is speckled with brown spots, 30 to 45 seconds. Flip roti using tongs; cook until it puffs up completely and is evenly cooked on both sides, 30 to 45 seconds. (Small charred spots are delicious and totally OK.) If roti doesn’t completely puff up, pat the top using a clean towel to encourage it to inflate.
  5. Remove roti from skillet, and brush both sides lightly with melted ghee; transfer to a serving plate. Repeat process with remaining roti rounds and ghee.

To Make the Tadka & to Serve:

  1. In a small skillet, heat ghee over medium-high. Add dried chiles and cumin to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until cumin is toasted and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Divide dal mixture among bowls, and drizzle each portion with desired amount of warm tadka. (I served it over brown Basmati rice.)
  3. Sprinkle with additional cilantro, and serve alongside hot roti and steamed spinach, as desired.

Note: Dal can be prepared (without the tadka) 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Pork Sausage Chili

We have a new favorite chili in our house! It may double as a new favorite Super Bowl meal too. 😉 I was a little concerned about using sausage as such a primary ingredient but the end result was very balanced. It was hearty, full-flavored, and a perfect compliment to our mandatory guacamole appetizer. I also loved that it could be prepared in advance.

I was initially drawn to the recipe because it was titled “BLT Chili” which sounded intriguing and delicious. After reading further, I realized that it was not related to a BLT but was created by chef Laurent Tourondel of BLT Burger in Las Vegas. Funny.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Laurent Tourondel. I modified the proportions, used sweet Italian sausage, and served the chili over brown rice. We also had cornbread muffins on the side. Our dessert of After-School Specials completed our festive meal. Perfect.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  1. In a large, enameled cast-iron Dutch oven or casserole, heat the oil.
  2. Add the sausage and cook over high heat, breaking it up, until browned, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the onions, bell pepper and garlic; cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the onion is translucent, 8 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin and oregano and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn and water and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 1 hour.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve the chili over rice, if desired, with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped red onion, pickled jalapeños, cilantro and hot sauce as optional toppings.

Indian Tomato Rice

I couldn’t stop myself from trying- and sharing- one more recipe in Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: The New Home Cooking book. 🙂 This recipe was inspired by Madhur Jaffrey’s tomato rice recipe in Vegetarian India.

This quick and versatile dish can be served as a side with seafood, chicken, or, as Kimball suggests, a simple fried egg. We ate it as a light meal with sautĂ©ed chard with garlic and cumin. I loved the layers of spices. I used serrano chiles instead of bird’s-eye chiles.

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

  • 1 cup white Basmati rice, rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T grapeseed or other neutral oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp brown or black mustard seeds
  • 2 serrano or bird’s-eye chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  1. In a bowl, combine the rinsed rice with enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Let soak for 15 minutes. Drain the rice very well
  2. In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the 1 1/4 cups water and tomato paste; whisk until dissolved. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium, combine the oil, cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, chiles, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the seeds begin to pop and the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the rice and salt and cook, stirring, until coated with oil, about 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in the water-tomato paste mixture and bring to a simmer.
  6. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat, add the tomatoes and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in the cilantro, fluffing the rice with a fork.

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