Friday, February 22, 2019
The most recent meal I cooked was staple Indian cuisine- naan, yellow rice, and Tikka Masala. First I chopped onions (which made me sob for the next ten minutes), grated ginger, and prepared my ingredients. This was one of the more time-consuming parts of the recipe, so next time I’ll recruit some of my siblings to help.
Then I started cooking the rice- although using a different method than I had expected. Before the actual rice is added, diced tomatoes, garlic, onions, ginger and a wonderful array of spices are sauteed until soft. Then is added the rice, and it is stirred until coated with the vegetable mixture- and lastly broth is poured over the whole thing and the rice is cooked until tender. A few minutes before it is ready, frozen peas and carrots are poured over the top, and mixed in at the end of the cooking process. The result is perfectly cooked rice, full of lovely flavors and textures. The ginger, garlic, tumeric and garam masala play off of each other nicely.
While the rice was cooking, I prepared the Tikka Masala to go with it. Tikka Masala is a flavorful dish of chicken and curry, typically served over rice and/or with naan. As with the rice, the first step in this recipe was to saute onions, garlic and ginger until soft. Then tomato paste, brown sugar, chicken, and a variety of spices- more garam masala and tumeric, in addition to cumin, paprika and salt join the mix. The chicken is given a few minutes to cook partly through, and then crushed tomatoes are added to cover the whole dish and create a luxurious sauce. The chicken simmers for about 10 minutes (mine required more time because my pot was deep), until cooked through. Heavy cream is added to the dish at the end, making it even more silky and rich. The curry is just thick enough- not too soupy and not too thick to coat the rice. Although the rice and Tikka Masala both have strong flavors, the similarity in their ingredients keeps them from clashing. The chicken is cooked through but tender, and the sauce is so aromatic it fills the whole house with a mouthwatering complex blend of scents. The spices build off of each other in a crescendo of contrasting and coordinating flavor.
The last item on our menu for the night was naan. I started the bread before I cooked the other dishes- mixing and kneading yeast, water, flour sugar… and a more unusual ingredient, yogurt. Yogurt gives the flatbread a slight bit of tang and substance, and adds to its melty, buttery flavor. I allowed the dough to rise until the other dishes had finished cooking- around 45 minutes. Then I rolled it into small balls, rolled them out, and brushed each doughy disk with a blend of butter, oil and salt. The naan cooks in a skillet rather than in the oven, until the dough starts to bubble and brown. Then it is flipped and repeated- and finally, it is served warm with the Tikka Masala and rice. It is buttery, tangy, and light, a perfect complement to the bold flavors of the curry.