Thursday, September 6, 2007

Back at it

As you can guess, I haven't been doing much cooking lately. Well, nothing of note that is. I've been eating a lot of nachos and quesadillas. And the occasional salad. But Tuesday I found myself in the grocery store (Somehow I had managed to run out of toilet paper. Don't ask me how. It never happens.) and I was inspired. Foster Farms whole chickens were a mere $0.79 per pound. Well, I simply had to buy one even though I had planned on buying my usual chicken thighs. Because I had more inspiration from Zoomie.

I have always loved Indian food. In the past it wasn't all that convenient to me as it is to me now. And perhaps that's why I haven't cooked any Indian food in years. There's a plethora of choices within a few blocks. Did I mention that at the new place on Shattuck that carries Khana Peena's wonderful food, you can get a combo plate -- rice, one veggie, one meat -- for around $6? It's not really a new place. It's more like a corner store that has added a food counter. And some tables.In the days when I didn't have these choices, I swore by Curries Without Worries. It's not my mom's kind of cookbook because there are no pictures.

Before I could start cooking, there was one small matter to deal with.

Yes, Boris still thinks that the top of the cabinets is an acceptable nap spot.

Chicken Curry a la Mussoorie
from Curries Without Worries by Sudha Koul

I had all the ingredients on hand with the exception of the sour cream that was on my shopping list anyway. Because it's just me and I like lots of sauce, I only use one chicken. Oh, and I use about a half teaspoon of ground cardamom instead of the crushed pods even though I have pods on hand. I don't like almonds so I never add those. And who are these six people? Seems like a very large serving to me.

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup ghee (Clarified butter.)
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
2 small frying chickens, cut up
(The elimination of pieces with bone reduces the flavor of a curry considerably. You could substitute thighs and drumsticks if you like, but avoid using boned breast of chicken. Remove skin, and clean chicken with dry paper towels before cooking.)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
6 crushed cardamoms
1 medium cinnamon stick, crushed
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste
A pinch of nutmeg
1 pint sour cream
2 tablespoons blanched slivered almonds
1 cup chopped fresh coriander

1. Puree the onions, garlic, ginger, and 2 tablespoons of water in a blender.

2. In an 8-quart saucepan, heat the ghee on medium high heat. When the ghee is hot, add the whole cumin, stirring briskly until the seeds sizzle. Add the puree and continue to stir. Regulate the heat to prevent the puree from sticking to the bottom of the pan, which it has a tendency to do. Continue stirring till the puree is golden, has been fried well, and most of the moisture in the puree has evaporated. This will take about 10 minutes on medium high heat.

3. Add the chicken. Stir fry on high heat till the chicken starts turning golden brown. This should take about 5 minutes. Stir briskly to prevent burning the chicken. Add the turmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, salt, and nutmeg, stirring well until they give off a fragrance; i.e., for a minute or so. Add the sour cream, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to lowest point possible, cover tightly, and cook for 30 minutes or until the chicken is absolutely tender.

4. Just before serving, sprinkle almonds, and then fresh coriander, on the curry.

Serves 6

Because it is cooked at a pretty high heat, I measure everything out in advance.

And I was out of ground cumin as was the grocery store.

The finished dish.

And how to follow this up? Well, while shopping on Tuesday, I remembered that I had not had one of my favorite summer desserts.

Vanilla yogurt with white nectarine, plum, and granola.

Later in the evening, there was sangria courtesy of one of my neighbors. Because I could hear voices through my front window so I finally gave in and went outside. Eventually the whole first floor, my floor, was out on the front steps drinking and talking. And one of my neighbors came up with the idea that we should all have a Halloween party. Talking to my father earlier this week, I told him that over this past weekend I realized that except for the job situation, I was actually pretty happy with my life. All of my reactions? A result of the thought of losing the life that I've grown to love. Sitting on the front steps reminded me of this. So I need to find a job soon. Because I love where I am too much.

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