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October 2012 COTM: 660 Curries -- Spice Blends & Pastes; Appetizer Curries; Poultry, Game, and Egg Curries

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Spice Blends and Pastes …. 11-42
Appetizer Curries …. 43-118
Poultry, Game, and Egg Curries …. 119-168

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  1. I made Almond Chicken with a Yogurt-Mint Sauce (Dahi Pudhina Murghi), pg. 123-124 last night for dinner, along with Spicy Banana Peppers (pg. 358).

    Relatively simple recipe but there is some planning required, as the recipe has you make a marinade of yogurt, garlic, ginger and almonds in the blender, then add a spice mixture (coriander, mustard seed, fennel, salt and cayenne, plus chopped fresh cilantro) and marinate a cut up chicken (I used 6 large boneless, skinless thighs instead) for at least 2 hours.

    You then remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving any excess (I didn't have much, so I scraped some of the excess off the chicken pieces as I put them in the pan, figuring it would just burn anyway), and brown the chicken in a bit of oil. Remove it to a plate and add a thinly sliced onion and some water to the pan to deglaze. Add a bay leaf and any reserved marinade, then return the chicken to the pan and simmer until cooked through. Add a handful of freshly chopped mint and serve.

    I made one accidental change - I had a brain fart and bought cashews instead of almonds at the market, so that's what I used. I used thighs instead of a whole chicken, as I mentioned, and I found I needed a good bit more water than called for to really make a sauce. Anyway, I enjoyed this quite a bit - the sauce was delicious and complex (although Mr. Bionda felt it was too fennel-y). The mint flavor got a bit lost, but that could have been because the supermarket mint I had wasn't too flavorful to begin with. I would add more cayenne next time - the sauce tasted mildly spicy when eaten alone but with rice the spice was mostly lost. I think this recipe could also be simplified by just browning unmarinated chicken, then adding the "marinade" from this recipe to the pan as a simmering sauce - I don't know that the couple of hours in the marinade did anything. Perhaps if I were using tougher white meat chicken I'd be grateful for the tenderizing properties of yogurt, but with thighs it was unnecessary. I would make this again, adding more cayenne for me and less fennel for the Mister!

    6 Replies
    1. re: biondanonima

      I think cashews sound great in this recipe!

      1. re: luckyfatima

        They were - and honestly, with the complexity of the spices and such I don't know that I would be able to tell the difference between almonds and cashews anyway!

      2. re: biondanonima

        Finally got around to making this again - this time with almonds! I also skipped the marinading step and just added the yogurt sauce to the pan after the chicken was mostly cooked. Just as good and much simpler without marinading. I did add a bit more cayenne and a bit less fennel, and both DH and I were happy. I also subbed parsley for cilantro because my stepdaughter has the soap-mouth thing, which worked fine, but next time I'd probably just use double the mint.

        1. re: biondanonima

          For the soap-mouth thing, does culantro (sawtooth herb/long-leaf coriander) have the the same effect? Its flavour is strikingly similar to cilantro, though the leaf isn't as light and feathery, so texture might be an issue. I was just looking at my culantro plant the other day and it struck me that it would be the perfect sub for those who can't handle cilantro (unless, of course, it contains the same offending make-up as cilantro!)....

          I'm glad to see this thread revived....I just picked 660 curries up from the library again and have been plotting several menus from the pages. Perfect timing--I'l have to try this!

          1. re: Allegra_K

            I've never tried it, but maybe I'll see if I can find some and have her test it out. If I find any, I'll report back!

            1. re: biondanonima

              I'd love to hear how if that works out--I'm really curious!

      3. See crisp fried onions (in Tips) p.201 also p 16 for fried onion paste (pyaaz ka lep)

        These are called birishta and are the backbone of cooking in a lot of regional cuisines in S. Asia in the North-North West, (especially in various Muslim communities' cuisines), in Muslim Bengali cooking, and in Indian Hyderabadi Muslim cooking.

        I do not usually make a paste of these, I fry them in large batches at a time and keep them in the freezer to take out as needed, a 1/4 cup is about 1 medium onion. In some recipes they are required to be crushed (1 heaping crushed tbs is one medium onion in this case). I am cooking a meat dish from the book today (p.205 Lucknowi gosht qorma), so I needed these on hand for that.

        I am looking forward to trying the pasted method because that sounds like it will save time in cooking by speeding up the break down of the onions into the meat-curry gravies.

        I used desi onions from the Indian store, they are lemon sized and purple and not very sweet.

        I just wanted to post a pic so others can see what they look like (color should be deep reddish brown but take care not to burn or they will be bitter) for making p. 16's fried onion paste recipe. When I fry them, my kids swarm in and start stealing them and eating them since they are so crispy and slightly sweet from the caramelization of the sugars in the onions...I actually ate a few bites of them myself.

        8 Replies
        1. re: luckyfatima

          Hi Fatima,

          Thanks for posting the picture. I have my onions on the stove right now. It looks like yours are crispy. Mine are sweating down and darkening (regular red onions) but are not getting crispy. And I really wasn't expecting them to get crispy. I was thinking I would end up with caramelized onions, more or less. How did yours get crispy? Did you deep fry?


          1. re: greeneggsnham

            You take them out of the oil based on color, and when they stand for a few minutes outside of the oil, the become crisp.

          2. re: luckyfatima

            Yes, those look beautiful--I fear I'd bes nacking on them myself!

            1. re: luckyfatima

              Fried Onion Paste, page 16.

              Red onions are thin sliced and cooked slowly in oil until deep purple brown. I used about 1.5 lbs of red onions, which when uncooked, filled my 3 qt skillet. I cooked and cooked and cooked some more and ended up with less than a cup and a half of deep dark savory glop. Mine never got crunchy, but the taste is pretty awesome.

              The first photo is after about 30 minutes cooking. I thought about stopping there but pressed on about 7 minutes more. They are not burned but they did get darker and browner during that time. I blended these with a bit of water to make the paste. Half a cup got used for the Vibrant Chicken with spicy tomato sauce on page 137 (awesome). That was so good, that I may make it again, but I am also looking for other curries to use the paste.

                1. re: greeneggsnham

                  I made this paste tonight for the Cinnamon flavored black eyed peas on pg. 323. HOLY SMOKES! I caramelize onions all the time, but for some reason it never occurred to me to put them in the blender. The resulting paste is SO DELICIOUS and I can already imagine adding it to just about every sauce I make, to add depth and sweetness without texture. My freezer will never be without this paste again!

                  1. re: greeneggsnham

                    I made the fried onion paste last night, as part of my ill-fated attempt to make a legume curry! I cooked mine for something like 45 minutes, but although they were very soft, they never got very dark. As a result, my paste is a fetching shade of lilac!

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      I find that the trick to getting a nice dark brown color on onions (without burning them) is to use slightly higher heat than you think you should and be ready to deglaze the pan a few times with water. Once the onions get to the limp stage, I leave them alone until a toasty crust forms on the bottom of the pan, then I add a little water, scrape it up and stir it in, then let them sit again until I get another toasty crust. Repeat 3-4 times. I've never had success getting a true caramel color without doing this - maybe I'm too impatient with low heat, but it seems like there's a too-fine line between heat that will never really caramelize the fond and heat that will burn the fond (unless water is added).

                2. p. 205-206 Aromatic Lamb with Pounded Spices/Lucknowi Gosht Qorma

                  This recipe appealed to me since my mother in law is from Lucknow and the food there is renowned in India-Pakistan. I wanted to see if this were a qorma that I could add to my repertoire of qorma recipes, and it very much is. The dish came out very successfully.

                  The dish calls for boneless lamb cubes, but I used bone-in mutton shoulder, since that is what we usually cook with at home and what I had on hand.

                  I fried onions earlier today (see pic above) and set them aside for the recipe. The recipe calls for marinading the meat in a mix of yoghurt, ginger, and garlic whipped together. I had fresh ginger-garlic-green chile paste on hand, and I know the addition of green chiles changes the character of the dish very slightly, but for the end result, it didn't seem to make a difference, as the dish was not particularly spice.

                  I heated the oil and added in the recommended selection of whole garam masalas. I then added in the marinaded meat. I did not fry the onions in oil as recommended, I just used my pre-fried onions that I had made earlier that day. They were perhaps cooked to a slightly later stage than required for the recipe. I crushed them and added them in about two minutes after stirring the meat around. I then stirred and stirred for a while, as recommended, allowing the yoghurt to dry up, the ginger and garlic to cook through, and the onions to break down. Oil rose to the top pf the mixture and I continued to stir so that the meat would be properly braised, and important qorma step. I then added in the whole red dried chiles and coriander powdered, stirred for a few more moments, then poured in about 1.5 cups of water. The recipe recommended one cup, but since I used goat, I cooked the meat for about 1 hour and ten minutes until it was very tender, and I didn't want the water in the gravy to dry up.

                  In the meanwhile, I grounded the recommended perfumey spices with more fried onions in my Vitamix. I added a little water so that the spices would grind smoothly. This is to be stirred in at the end of cooking.

                  When the dish was finished cooking, I turned off the flame and stirred in the onion-spice mixture. I then added 1/8 teaspoon of Keora Water. The recipe recommends on whole teaspoon but that sounds like way too much---it is very strong stuff and too much can ruin a dish. If anyone tries this recipe and is unfamiliar with keora water, please note that it turns bitter if you heat it, so don't turn the flame on again after you have added in the keora water. If you cook the dish earlier in the day and then re-heat, and the keora water just before serving.

                  Iyer created this recipe on his own, inspired by sheer imagination of the splendor of the qormas of Lucknow. The dish is very aromatic with strongly perfuming spices like clove, nutmeg, mace, star anise, and cardamom added raw at the end of cooking, which achieves that particular Lucknavi-perfume characteristic.

                  I enjoyed this dish so much, I might try and serve it at an Eid gathering later this month.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: luckyfatima

                    Yum, bone in meat. I wonder if Mr. Iyer suggested a boneless cut in deference for the western tendency to avoid bones in stewed recipes. Your dish looks delicious Luckyfatima, I'm sure the bone in approach made for an even more flavourful meal.

                    1. re: delys77

                      That certainly is one reason why i recommend a boneless cut...

                    2. re: luckyfatima

                      sounds fabulous. i am always looking for new ways to cook bone-in goat, many thanks for your detailed description of the changes you made to accommodate the change in meet.

                    3. Chicken with onion, bell pepper and mace (murghi jalfrezie), p152

                      We absolutely loved this and it was pretty easy to make. Great for a week night curry fix, as he says, although I would try to marinate the chicken earlier in the day so that it has time to absorb some flavour.

                      To make, marinate cubed chicken in 1T ginger paste and 2T of garlic paste (I used my new discovery of frozen cubes from the Asian store). Heat a small frying pan and toast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, 2 dried red Thai or cayenne chillis and mace until fragrant and the chillies have blackened slightly. I used Thai chili but not the small very hot ones, and added an extra one because we like some heat. Allow to cool and grind to a powder.

                      Heat 2T oil in a skillet and add the chicken. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes then remove. Add more oil and fry cubed onion and green pepper until browned around the edges. Remove. Add tomato paste to the pan with a cup of water and stir together to make a sauce. Stir in the ground spice blend and some salt, then return to the pan and stir. Continue to cook until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened. This took about 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander.

                      This was really delicious, with subtle and distinct spicing and a nice bit of heat from the dried chilli. It was also the best Indian curry I've ever made. Based on this success, and that of the vegetable dish I also made, I'm really excited about this book.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: greedygirl

                        Chicken with onion, bell pepper and mace (murghi jalfrezie), p.152

                        This was dinner tonight and had I planned correctly, it could have been a quick weeknight meal. I started by making the ginger paste and garlic paste. Now that it is done, this will be a huge time saver. I also ended up de-boning a chicken breast. Initially I thought I would try the more "succulent " version with bone-in chicken breast, but after thinking about it, my husband would not have been crazy about little bits of chicken with bones. The chicken also needs to marinade in the garlic and ginger paste for at least half an hour. All of these things (my own doing) delayed dinner, but fortunately the results were worth it.

                        Like gg, this was the best Indian curry I've every made, but unlike her, this was my first (I've only made Japanese-style curries). We really enjoyed this. Although typically I prefer chicken thighs to breasts, the chicken breasts were very flavorful and tender. This was a surprisingly simple dish in execution,but not flavor, that I would happily make again.We served this with brown rice (the frozen kind...huge time saver). The only changes I made were to use chile de arbol instead of a dried Thai chile pepper and I used half of the amount of oil.

                        I started the month with a little trepidation about Indian cooking, but with a win under my belt, I'm excited to try more.

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          greedygirl,what brand are those frozen cubes from the Asian store? I wonder if I can find them here? Pic if possible, please.

                          I'm drawn to the idea of a week night curry fix. To make this toddler friendly, I suppose I would use serrano chilis instead of the Thai or cayenne. Do you see any reason why I shouldn't?


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            The brand is Taj.


                            I don't know how adventurous the Dairy Prince is, but I see no reason why this wouldn't work with chillies that are less spicy. They need to be dried though.

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              I remember reading somewhere that Anupy Singla suggests adding red chilli powder and sliced green chili at the end for curries. Supposedly her children can't handle the heat either. I haven't tried it myself though.

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Serranos pack less heat than the other two - yes that would work - if you want it pitifully mild then you could seed those as well...

                                1. re: 660 curries

                                  HA! Yes, we might start with pitifully mild and work our way up from there. The problem is, we're in the middle of teaching that hot=owie because we want to keep him away from the hot stove etc. and now suddenly he protests at anything that is temperature warm or spicy hot. It didn't used to be a problem before. Hopefully it's just a stage.


                              2. re: greedygirl

                                Chicken with Onion, Bell Pepper and Mace (Murghi Jalfrezie) Pg. 152

                                Overall a pretty good dish, but not as stellar as some of the others I have tried from the book. I must admit I used ground mace and it didn't do much for me. Not to say I didn't like it, I just couldn't really taste it and for me that makes his English translation of the title a bit misleading. It might very well be the fact that I used dried, but it was listed as alright in the ingredient list. Overall however this was a pleasant chicken curry with a bit of heat and slight bitterness from the green peppers. The texture of the sauce is very nice and the recipe comes together quickly. It was good, but not great like some of the others, for me at least. Perhaps the challenge was the heat, I used the recommended amount of chiles and I found that it was just strong enough to make the dish a little one not, ie. the chiles overcame some of the other flavours.

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  We have had an overabundance of peppers in our house lately so I knew that I had to try this one, and I'm not sure that I have much to add to what others have said; this feels like a 'me too' post. The sauce was truly delicious, with a lovely depth of flavour, spicy and rich and very more-ish, and I made my daughter laugh by continually commenting on how good it was and how pleased I was with the results as I ate. We will definitely make this one again.

                                2. Punjabi Garam Masala p.25

                                  I am planning to make Palak Paneer tomorrow and it calls for this masala. I had all required spicies on hand and now that I discovered that wrinkled-looking black cardamom is just a shell containing seeds within, making masala was a breeze. My old and well-used Cuisineart mini-chopper did wonderful job grinding together coriander,cumin, cloves, black peppercorns, black cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves. The spice mixture smells wonderful and I hope that tomorrow's dish will turn out great. I am perplexed, however, that the recipe that uses 16oz of spinach and 8oz of paneer calls for just 1/2 teaspoon of this masala which appears to be the main flavouring...

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: herby

                                    it is a strong blend, especially when using roasted ground spices that you just made - a little goes a long way. Also, not sure which recipe you are planning on cooking - oftentimes there are other ingredients that promote a certain flavor as well - garam masalas, especially finishing blends like this one are sprinkled towards the end for an aromatic component as well.

                                    1. re: 660 curries

                                      I am making Mathura Palak Paneer on p. 297 and love the story behind the recipe:) Punjabi masala is not a finishing one in this recipe. Anyway, I am reserving judgement until tomorrow and will report in the appropriate thread.

                                      1. re: herby

                                        In that recipe it is considered a finishing spice - there are many other spices early on that provide the layering. Hope you enjoy it.

                                    2. re: herby

                                      I made this one tonight as well, in preparation for tomorrow's Cremini mushrooms, pg. 517. My sense of smell is pretty much non-existent but Mr. Bionda says it smells fabulous and "Christmasy," probably from all the cloves and cinnamon. I tasted a little on the tip of my finger and it's cinnamon-y and has a powerful numbing effect, from all the cloves. Can't wait to taste it in my dish!

                                      1. re: biondanonima

                                        I always say never taste the spice blends as is - oftentimes it leaves a preconceived impression that could hinder your judgement - they always react very differently when combined with ingredients and provide a well-nuanced balance, quite different than what you experience when tasting it "au naturel" ...

                                      2. re: herby

                                        I too made this masala tonight. Christmas-y is an apt description. My housemates all said "something smells sweet."

                                        I used the masala in Makhani Dal, page 364. I am very pleased the quantity of the recipe isn't so great that it will get 'stale' before I can use it all.

                                        1. re: smtucker

                                          Makhani Dal is on my list to make but I am hanging out with my six years old grandboy this weekend and minding a few family obligations this week - will be back to cooking in a week and look forward to it.

                                        2. re: herby

                                          Punjabi Garam Masala, page 25.

                                          I finally got around to making the Punjabi Garam Masala today after meaning to for the past 2 weeks. I used a retired coffee grinder (retired from grinding coffe, that is) to grind the toasted spices. I was a little worried the coffee oils would linger so ground rice a few times in it first (after cleaning it the best I could). It still smelled faintly of coffee before the toasted spices went it, but I don't detect any coffee in the finished mix. I mention only because the book cautions you from using a spice grinder which you also use to grind coffee. Smells very reminiscent of pumpkin pie spice to me. A very seasonable potpourri for this time of year.

                                        3. General question about the masalas in this book - is there a quick way to find out which recipes call for which masalas? The information doesn't appear to be available in the index. It would be nice to have them cross-referenced so that if one makes a full recipe of a masala but only requires a teaspoon for a given recipe, it would be easy to find another recipe or four to use it up (I realize they can be substituted, but for the purposes of COTM and learning about the subtleties of Indian cooking, I'd like to be as faithful as possible to the recipes as written).

                                          13 Replies
                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                            I have the same need! Tried EYB but looks like most garam masalas are indexed as garam masala and not specific, i.e. Punjabi garam masala. One thing that I love about Bayless book "Salsas That Cook" is that he has a side bar by each salsa specifying which recipes it is used in and page # - brilliant!

                                            1. re: herby

                                              Yes, I think this would be a no-brainer for this type of book. I actually just went through and made a little list for myself of those recipes that I flagged as being interesting, but if I had a complete list I'm sure I would find plenty of things that I might otherwise overlook.

                                              1. re: biondanonima

                                                You actually went through the whole book looking for recipes that use your specific masala??? I would like to do the same but it overwhelmes me just thinking about 800+ pages:)

                                                1. re: herby

                                                  LOL, no - I flipped through the book when I first got it and flagged recipes that I really wanted to make this month. Today I just flipped through my flagged recipes, scanned the ingredients and made a notation on the masala recipe - so now I know which of the recipes I want to try use which masalas. For instance, quite a few of them use the Punjabi one, so I know now that I can make a full or even double batch of that and be reasonably sure of using it up within a few weeks. Only a couple use the Maharashtrian one though, so I'll probably just make a half batch of that.

                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                    Punjabi masala is wonderful - I made full recipe and will be using it in some dishes from your list and probably others if I can find them.

                                                  2. re: herby

                                                    I take a more relaxed approach. Flipping through or opening at random, I just wait 'til I see something I like. If I like it well enough, I make the dish -- or approximate the dish, trying to be intellectually and culinarily honest!

                                              2. re: biondanonima

                                                I had this same question in the announcement thread (though perhaps I didn't express it clearly) and the answer was no, there's no quick way to find that out. I tried an EYB search, too, with no success.


                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  We could all start making public notes about which blend is used in recipes. Can we search on those notes? I think I will test and report back.

                                                  Nope. Our notes are not searchable, and there is no way to change the ingredient list. Plus my test was for Kolhapuri masala, but it has been misspelled in EYB as Kolhhapuri. [The header type really is hard to read.]

                                                  But I do think it would help to add the masala recipes required with page number to make planning easier if you are not at home.

                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                    Interesting idea! Even if the EYB notes aren't searchable (which I don't think they are, but I'd be delighted to be told I'm wrong. Not in general mind you, just in this particular matter...), we could just keep adding to the notes to each blend recipe. Then, if you were curioud about that blend recipe, you could click on the notes and, over time, you'd have an inventory (in the notes) of recipes that called for it.


                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      Oh, this idea is EVEN better! I went about it all backwards. I added the masala type to the recipe, not the recipe to the masala. TDQ. Brilliant!

                                                    2. re: smtucker

                                                      I like this idea. Let's make sure that we put recipe name as well as page #. But how would we organize it? It would be great to a note on each masala and keep adding to it new recipes as we discover them but I do not think this is doable. Maybe Jane could advise?

                                                      1. re: herby

                                                        I think some sort of format that goes like this would be helpful.

                                                        RECIPES IN THE BOOK THAT USE THIS SPICE BLEND

                                                        Whatever dish on page XYZ

                                                        We can each revise our own notes, so maybe we each keep updating our own notes to add the additional recipes as we try them?


                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          Excellent! And check others notes so we do not duplicate. Where there is a will, there is a way:)

                                                2. Maharashtrian Garam Masala, pg. 28-29. I made this tonight in preparation for tomorrow's Chicken Thighs with Peanut Sauce, pg. 159. The recipe calls for raw peanuts, white sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, chiles, nutmeg and mace to be toasted together for 3-4 minutes, then removed from the pan. Dried coconut is added and quickly toasted with the residual heat, then everything is cooled and ground.

                                                  I followed the recipe but noticed after about 45 seconds that my sesame seeds were starting to burn, while my peanuts and chiles had barely colored at all, so I quickly dumped out the skillet and then picked out the underdone peanuts and chiles (not as difficult as it sounds) and gave them a few extra minutes alone. I also couldn't find whole mace, so I added the pre-ground stuff later. Anyway, the coconut toasted perfectly from the residual heat - I think next time I would just start with chiles and peanuts, add everything else except coconut a minute before the peanuts are done, and then do the coconut separately.

                                                  I let the mixture cool and then ground it - unfortunately, my grinder is worthless and it heats up a lot while it's working, so my mixture is a bit cakey. I think it will be fine, though - I may try drying it out in a low oven if I feel the texture will suffer with storage. This blend is SPICY (I used the full 10 chiles called for) with a pronounced sesame flavor. Delicious! Mr. Bionda says it smells fabulous (he loves sesame). I can't wait for dinner tomorrow!

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                    Having used this in dinner last night, I can say without a doubt that we'll have no trouble using it up quickly. I think it would be delicious sprinkled on just about anything - I'm sitting here fantasizing about it on deviled eggs right now!

                                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                                      I made a little egg salad tonight with a hefty dose of this garam masala in it - the best egg salad EVER. Highly addictive!!!!!!

                                                      1. re: biondanonima

                                                        Made this masala with less Chile's. Delicious! Used it for Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango which was fabulous.


                                                    2. re: biondanonima

                                                      Maharashtrian garam masala p.28

                                                      I also felt my sesame seeds were burning faster than the other spices but I didn't put the peanuts and chiles back in the pan. I think my spice grinder is pretty good but my blend was also very cakey even though I let the spices cool completely before I ground them. It smells great though. I haven't used it yet as I was going to make Cumin-scented pigeon peas with mango on p.427 until I found my mango was unusable. So I'm looking forward to having it in another dish or getting a decent mango - blinknoodle's review makes me think I missed out.

                                                      1. re: JaneEYB

                                                        If it helps, any mango, even frozen, would be fine for this dish. I am partial to ataulfo mangoes but even the Tommy Atkins would work here.

                                                        1. re: blinknoodle

                                                          Not this one, it was horrible, brown mush. Looked lovely from the outside, very deceptive. I'm definitely going to make it next week though.

                                                      2. re: biondanonima

                                                        I improvised a (probably highly inauthentic) stir-fry tonight using this masala - it is delicious. I started by popping a teaspoon of mustard seeds in oil, then added a teaspoon of cumin seeds. Dump in a chopped onion, fry until lightly golden, then add a handful of chopped peanuts and some garlic, saute 30 seconds. Add a double handful of quartered cremini mushrooms and some salt and saute a couple of minutes, then add a chopped red bell pepper and some chopped broccoli stems (can you tell I needed to clean out the fridge?). Saute 3-4 minutes, until everything is crisp-tender and browning on the edges. Turn off the heat, sprinkle with two teaspoons (ish) of the masala and the juice of half a lime and serve. SO TASTY!

                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                          I had the same issue of some ingredients burning before others are done, and even after cooling, the mixture being cakey and not ground uniformly. We ended up biting into whole coriander seeds in the curry.
                                                          Next time, I will follow what my mother does, when she grinds powders containing coconut and peanuts. Roast each ingredient, cool and grind it into powder separately and then mix the powders into the required blend.
                                                          But regardless of the technique of blending the masala into powder, this IS a very delicious spice mix, & very unique to the region. I will add some more red chillies for more heat level of our liking.

                                                        2. Ground Lamb with Scallions in a Saffron-Rose Sauce - p. 95

                                                          This is in the appetizer section, but I went ahead and served it as a main course as he mentions you can do. The flavors on this were unique and interesting, but I found myself wishing that the lamb mixture was just a little more moist and that the sauce was a little thicker so it stuck to the lamb better. I think the lamb meatball recipes in this book will remain my favorites over this dish.

                                                          To make, ground lamb is combined with chopped mint, cayenne, chopped garlic, chopped scallions, Kashmiri garam masala, and salt. These are supposed to be shaped on to skewers, but we appear to have lost our skewers in our move, so I just formed them into patties. While the lamb is cooking on the grill, a sauce of half-and-half, rose petals, saffron, more garam masala, and salt is made. My saffron may be getting old, because my sauce didn't seem to get quite to the deep yellow phase. I used dried rose hips which Iyer states is an "acceptable alternative."

                                                          Overall, this was good and we both enjoyed it, but I don't think it will make our short list of recipes. This book just sets the bar too high for dinners!

                                                          1. Grilled Chicken with a Cashew-Tomato Sauce - p. 86

                                                            This is another appetizer curry that I decided to convert to more of a main-course offering. This was a perfect, quick weeknight dinner for me since I'm on my own tonight, although it does require a bit of a marinade time. The cashew-tomato sauce was a great blend.

                                                            To make, the chicken is marinated in thick yogurt, chopped cilantro, ginger paste, garlic paste, balti masala, and salt. I found some pre-chopped up chicken breast hiding in our freezer that only amounted to about 1/4 of this recipe, so I skipped on thickening the yogurt as it was such a small amount. The sauce is started by cooking ground cashews in ghee. Tomato sauce (I used crushed tomatoes), cayenne pepper, and salt are then added to the sauce and it simmers. While the sauce simmers, the chicken is cooked. The pieces I had were chopped a little too finely for me to want to bother threading on skewers (and our skewers have disappeared as mentioned above), so I opted to broil them un-skewered on a sheet pan. The sauce is then finished with a bit of cream and cilantro, turning it into a beautiful, creamy sauce. I realized while writing this that I doubled the sauce recipe compared to the portion of chicken that I had and I am quite happy that I did so! This is a good easy, weeknight dinner option that I'll make again.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                              I think I'm just going to search these threads for "weeknight". How many servings would you guess this recipe is when converted to a main course offering?


                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                I usually go with how many ounces of meat you proportion per serving - often 4 to 6 ounces per person for a main course is plenty.

                                                            2. Vibrant Chicken with a Spicy Tomato Sauce, page 137

                                                              We loved this! I wanted to ease my family into "curry month" with something fairly recognizable to them and ease myself in with something doable. This curry is described in the headnotes as "the quintessential northern Indian curry" to Westerners and with the fried onion paste already made I thought I could handle it on a weeknight. I made a few substitutions... Boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of bone in chicken. I haven't made the ginger paste and garlic paste yet, so instead I just put the thighs in a bowl and grated some garlic and ginger onto them. That is supposed to be done at the time of cooking, but I did it ahead of time to minimize cooking time int the evening. I also skipped the cayenne since I am feeding 3 kids, one of whom is very heat averse. I also measured out all my spices ahead of time and had them in a little bowl ready for me when cooking time came.

                                                              The cooking went pretty fast. Definitely weeknight doable (TDQ, you can flag this one). Heat oil in skillet and brown chicken. Remove chicken and add tomato sauce (canned), spices (coriander, paprika, salt, cumin, turmeric, cayenne), and onion paste. Cook this together until oil separates from the sauce. He recommends 20-25 minutes, but the kids were hungry and I probably only did about 15 minutes. Chicken is added back and cooked through. Given my boneless thighs, this only took another 5-10 minutes. That's it! I was able to cook it from start to finish (with prep done ahead of time) during one episode of Bubble Guppies (30 minutes).

                                                              The result.... awesome. I was really impressed with how the onion paste pretty much instantly turned the bright red tomato sauce into something brick red and incredibly savory. The finished dish really was what I would think of if someone said chicken curry (and I was thinking of a really well-executed, delicious version of it). What pleased me the most is that my kids loved it. I served with steamed Basmati rice, naan and a minty dal and ALL my kids (5, 3 and 1.5) really liked the chicken. And my oldest especially is not usually adventurous. My husband (who generally respects my cooking skills didn't think I had made it because it was so much better than my other forays into indian). Only down side is no leftovers!

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                Flagged for week night doable, especially noting that if the kids are you hungry you might be able to shave off 5-10 mins cooking time.


                                                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                  Made this curry again at the request of my 5 yo and 3 yo. I just wanted to say that the first time I cut back the tomato sauce a bit because I was using about a lb of boneless skinless thighs until a whole chicken. We would've liked more sauce so this time I used the whole can of tomato sauce. Both times I used the spice measurement in the recipe. We preferred the higher concentration of spices from the first time around. In the future, I will use the whole can of tomato sauce, but up the spices and onion paste a little bit (probably 25%)

                                                                2. English-style Madras Curry Powder / Angrezi Curry Masala / pg 24

                                                                  I made this because I was making a recipe (Boiled Cabbage-filled Dumplings in a Light Vegetable Broth / Momos / pg 79) that used it, in an effort to use up some stuff from my kitchen and not buy a lot.

                                                                  It was easy and very fast. I was a little worried about pulverizing the fenugreek in my spice grinder, since Iyer had mentioned it was "rock hard," but the spice grinder tackled it just fine. I used a generic "dried chili" from China, as I had those on hand. The blend is fragrant and tasted good in my recipe.

                                                                  I made half a batch, since it sounds like it is only used in a few recipes in the book (as it's a less-authentic type). I see that it's also used in 19th-century English-style Veal Curry / Angrezi Tari Waale Bachade Ki Maas / pg 183), so I'm going to use some more in that, since I have all the ingredients on hand.

                                                                  1. Boiled Cabbage-filled Dumplings in a Light Vegetable Broth / Momos / pg 79

                                                                    I made this in an effort to use up some stuff I had in my kitchen. I only had to buy fenugreek and the fresh chile peppers.

                                                                    It was pretty easy. No issues, really. Per the notes on pg 760, I think the chiles I used were Thai chiles. Because I had some, I used packaged wonton skins. Used a light (1/2-strength) chicken broth.

                                                                    We thought the dumpling filling was gingery,slightly sweet, a bit hot, and really delicious. I could see using this mixture as a straight saute for a side dish. I had removed 1/2 the seeds from the filling, so, obviously, it would be more hot with the full complement of seeds. The broth was just okay. It could have used more salt (as I said, mine was 1/2-strength, but the recipe did suggest water as a substitute) and maybe a little more curry powder. My SO thought it was almost too hot to eat (indeed, he didn't finish), and I could have used it a little less hot, as well. We're not used to the hottest food, but we're not wimps, either. Notably, I did use the hottest chiles from the list on pg 760. This, of course, is not the recipe's fault, but ours. Just something to note. The dumplings were light and not soggy. I had hoped to try some like potstickers, as mentioned in the notes, but I ended up overfilling them, so a few burst (you have a certain number of wonton skins and even though you know they're torn, you try to fix them so you can use up all your filling.....), so I didn't try them that way, though that might be what I do in future.

                                                                    I'm not sure if I would make this entire recipe again, since I don't know that the broth added much to the dish. I would, though, make dumplings or a plain saute with the filling recipe, for sure. That was very tasty, and I could use some more right now. Mmmmm. (SO liked it, but mentioned that he would have appreciated a little meat. Fair enough.)

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: juster

                                                                      I'm really impressed that you went for momos, as those can be labor intensive even when you are using store bought wonton skins. Did you serve them with a sauce or anything?

                                                                      1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                        No sauce. I did them per the recipe, which had you boil them then serve them in a seasoned broth. They really weren't that labor-intensive, but then again, I only made 12.

                                                                    2. Chicken Thighs with a Peanut Sauce (Sengdana Murghi), pg. 159.

                                                                      I made this along with the Brown Cremini Mushrooms with Chives on pg. 517 for dinner tonight. BIG WIN! This recipe requires the Maharashtrian garam masala from pg. 28. Anyway, you toast some raw peanuts in oil, then scoop them into a food processor and grind with dry coconut, cilantro, garlic and fresh green chiles. Toast some sesame and cumin seeds, then add the ground mixture and toast briefly, then throw in bone-in chicken thighs and brown on both sides, keeping the peanut mixture on top so that it doesn't burn. Add some salt and water and braise until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and add some yogurt, cream and the Maharashtrian garam masala, reduce a bit, then pour over the chicken and serve.

                                                                      I made just a couple of changes - I used boneless thighs, and I removed the peanut mixture from the pan after toasting (because I knew I would never be able to keep it from burning otherwise). I added it back as soon as the chicken was browned. I also garnished my serving with an extra pinch of the garam masala, as I really like spice.

                                                                      This has a unique flavor and tastes much more complex than the ingredients would suggest. My husband kept asking "is there butter in this? Are you sure there are no potatoes in here?" I was definitely sensing a potato-y flavor as well - maybe a sesame thing? Anyway, I don't really know what else to say other than that it was delicious - well balanced, with just enough acidity from the yogurt and creaminess from the dairy and coconut. I would double or triple the amount of garam masala next time, but I like spice - Mr. Bionda thought it was fine as-is. I will make this again and again!

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: biondanonima

                                                                        Everything I read about in these "660" threads sounds so good, this one especially so, (I subliminally know Mr. blue room will love it.)
                                                                        Thanks for this.

                                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                                          Just a little post-review - I reheated the leftovers of this tonight and they were not nearly as good as the freshly cooked dish. I probably should have added some yogurt or other liquid help reconstitute the sauce, and probably some fresh cilantro as well. Still a keeper, but I'll make a smaller amount next time to avoid leftovers.

                                                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                                                            Made this for the first time today. A fantastic fine. I was looking for something flavorful without the usual Turmeric, coriander, cumin, combo. This really delivered a great Indian taste with a totally different twist.
                                                                            Even though it uses peanuts and coconut, it is nothing like it's Thai cousin.
                                                                            Highly recommend.

                                                                          2. Halved Eggs with Garlic, Curry Leaves, and Tamarind (Muttai Kari) p.167

                                                                            My usual topping for a hard boiled egg is a little salt, so this treatment is special. The sauce is a bright herb green mostly due to cilantro and curry leaves. Loads more flavor comes from garlic and chiles, mustard seeds and sesame oil, shallots and turmeric, tamarind paste and yes, a little salt. It's fun to pop the mustard seeds in a hot pan. Most other ingredients I mashed as well as I could in a mortar, but gave up and finished by food processor. That paste is added to the hot seed pan, cooked a little. Then a small amount of turmeric, tamarind, and some water makes it a sauce. The eggs (hard cooked and halved) go into the sauce to heat and get basted. (I took a quick pic, using a pretty small portion of the sauce.) The eggs can be removed then and the sauce thickened.
                                                                            Verdict is -- flavorful, definitely tastes great, probably a little involved for breakfast though! I would make it with a few other Indian dishes for a nice dinner. It certainly will add beautiful color to any assortment of food.
                                                                            This is one of only three "egg curries" in the book. The other two are intriguing--one Sri Lankan style and one "Easter Eggs"!

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                              Sure looks pretty, br. I think it would make a great non-meat dish in a larger meal--perhaps for the Indian feast I'm planning when my turn at hosting my book club comes up soon. About half the members are vegetarian so this would likely appeal. I need to check out those other two as well.

                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                Nice plating. I love eggs in curry gravies. I will have to have a look at the egg recipes now, too.

                                                                              2. Toasted Chickpea Flour (Bhuna Hua Besan) pg. 41

                                                                                I made this because it was called for in a recipe I made last night, and in several others that looked good to me. Nothing seemed to be happening, and then all of a sudden at about 7 minutes it started to smell and then began to brown very quickly. It was kind of hard to judge when it was the right color (reddish brown, but how dark?), so I stopped it when it smelled nutty and was fairly dark . . . maybe the darkness of chocolate ice cream. Does that sound right to anyone in the know?

                                                                                I had wondered about the instruction to make sure to scrape it from the bottom of the pan, but it turns out that, I'm guessing due to the oil in the flour, it does sort of adhere (gently) to the bottom once it starts heating up. My batch ended up with some small clumps that were paler than the rest. I didn't strain it or mash those up or anything, and it seemed to work fine in my recipe -- the clumps dissolved and I didn't taste any raw flavor. Still, I'm wondering about using a whisk next time, in combo with the spatula, to see if that breaks them up better.

                                                                                I'm wondering if this is ever done in the oven. A few years ago I experimented with dry roux, for which I roasted flour in the oven, and it required less stirring and seemed to have a little more leeway in terms of not burning so fast. (It did work well for thickening sauces, no fat required, and did not have a raw taste.)

                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                1. re: juster

                                                                                  I don't toast as long as recommended. Mine isn't reddish brown, def. not as dark as cholocate. Make sure there is no taste of burntness in your besan. I heat the pan to medium and then stir and stir until all the color of the besan changes slightly (maybe to reddish tan, not dark brown, and a toasty smell rises from the pan. You have to stir and stir so that all the besan toasts evenly and also since if it sticks in one place it will burn. I have never tried it in the oven, it may work with a thin layer, as long as it all evenly toasts.

                                                                                  I have cheated on bhuna hua besan, too. At the Indo-Pak grocer you can find a product called bhuna hua channa. There are two types, with skins and without. I have used the one with skins but both will work...I think I choose the one with skins because it is hard to find the darkly toasted skinless channa and usually it is a very pale one or a split one even though it is labeled roasted. I have just put the one with skins in the coffee grinder to powder it. It works and serves the same purpose.

                                                                                  1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                    Thanks for your comments. I just tasted it, and it doesn't taste burnt to me. I was meaning chocolate ice cream, which is more tan, not a chocolate bar. I guess it depends which ice cream. Not the best analogy. Anyway, it looks different in daylight than it did last night. Brighter. I just compared it to some paint samples, and it seems pretty close to this: http://tinyurl.com/9orvevt
                                                                                    (I can't take a picture.) Too dark? Okay?

                                                                                    1. re: juster

                                                                                      That looks about right. Can't wait to read your report on the recipe you use it for.

                                                                                      1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                        Yay, thanks! I used it for Carrot Slices in a Dill Sauce, which I reported on in the vegetable curry thread. It was nummy, and the flour thickened it nicely.

                                                                                          1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                            I am glad I read this little side dialogue. I just made Kutchi Paneer (p 298), Nutty Cheese in a Spinach-Chickpea Flour Sauce. It's really great (and I am writing about it in the Paneer thread). It was my first time working with bhuna besan, and I took care to get it a warm toasty light brown and not let it burn. It's a great ingredient! Magic how it thickens a very runny sauce. It makes sense it would do that but I have not used besan in that way before.

                                                                                            1. re: Rasam

                                                                                              Juster used it in a carrot recipe. Actually in my IL's/my recipes it is in ground meat items like meatballs, smokey ground beef, smoked ground beef kababs, and galavati kababs. It is kind of like a binder but gives softness and nutty fragrance at the same time. Except for the kofta, the other recipes it is paired with have raw papaya in them as well, so somehow it pairs with that macerated meat texture. I have never used to thicken a sauce---have seen used untoasted besan browned in a roux like way fried in oil in nihari and also Sindhi besan ki karhi. Very fascinating for me as well when I saw it was going in a carrot-dill recipe.

                                                                                              1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                                Bhuna besan is indeed a versatile ingredient. Thanks for all the additional info. Your description of softness+nutty fragrance is spot on.
                                                                                                I saw juster's description of the carrot dill recipe and I will try that one soon.

                                                                                  2. Chicken w/Red Chiles and Coconut Milk (Thenga Paal Kozhi), p. 139

                                                                                    If you’re looking for a quick weeknight curry (and one with less aggressive heat and spice for pickier eaters), this may be the ticket.

                                                                                    You start by making a paste of ¼ c white vinegar, 1 tsp. kosher salt, ¼ tsp turmeric, 6 cloves of garlic, a small red onion, coarsely chopped, and 3 dried Thai chiles (quick work w/my immersion blender). Skinless chicken pieces—I used 3 drumsticks and 3 thighs—marinate in this paste for ½ to 2 hours. (I dumped everything into a zip-loc bag, massaged it a bit, and put it in the fridge for 1 hour.)

                                                                                    Next, you heat 2 T canola oil in a lg. skillet over med-high heat and put chicken and its marinade into the hot skillet and sear (and it does, once the marinade cooks down), 5-6 minutes per side. Then pour ¾ c. coconut milk into the skillet and stir it around a bit before adding 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes. Stir, boil, reduce heat to medium low. Then, if you are not I, you COVER and simmer, turning and basting the chicken every so often for 20-25 minutes. I, OTOH, read the recipe, then re-checked it b/c I thought it seemed the pan should be covered and still misread it, so I cooked it sans cover and the sauce reduced a lot. When it became clear there would be little sauce by the time the chicken was done, I added about a cup of chicken stock (only then did I read the recipe yet again and realize that I was supposed to cover the pan), cooked the chicken until it was done and added ¼ c. chopped cilantro.

                                                                                    We loved this. It was not very hot and the most assertive taste was the vinegar, so unlike any curries I've had before. In fact, this reminded us quite a lot of the vinegar chicken (from a favorite French recipe) that I make often. I served this with Bhutanese red rice and a tossed salad and some ghee-brushed naan—a delicious, fairly quick dinner on a busy night during a crazy week.

                                                                                    I’ll definitely make this again, but follow the instructions next time! I can’t imagine it would be anything but better. (Thanks to bacio for pointing me to this recipe.)

                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                      "If you’re looking for a quick weeknight curry (and one with less aggressive heat and spice for pickier eaters), this may be the ticket.

                                                                                      Thanks, ncw. Made a note of this one in the book! On the (rather long) list.

                                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                        We made this last night, thanks to your note that it is a quick weeknight meal. I used skin-on chicken legs and probably a little bit more coconut milk and tomatoes than the recipe called for (I hate having leftover canned goods, so just dumped it all in). That resulted in a bit thinner sauce than I would have wanted, so once I removed the chicken I reduced it a good bit. We ate it with red rice and another dish from the book: cauliflower and spinach in a black-pepper coconut milk sauce. A delicious, and quite easy dinner.

                                                                                        1. re: pluralofcow

                                                                                          I love the idea of more coconut milk. I happened to have one of those small cans (exactly 3/4 c), but I think next time, I'll go for a whole 15 oz. can.

                                                                                        2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                          Chicken withRed Chile and Coconut Milk --Thenga Paal Kozhi (139)

                                                                                          Sidelined by Sandy, trip cancelled, so I have a little time to post some of my October curry endeavors, only three unless you count a repeat of Rogan Josh as a fourth. As a beginning cook I have been really happy with my curry tries so far.

                                                                                          I had decided my second curry would be a chicken one. The words "quick" and "easy" caught my eye. Also the photo in nomadichowwoman's post --There's an Indian restaurant in Charlotte that serves a chicken dish that looks like that so I was hoping maybe this was it. It was not, but it was delicious anyway.

                                                                                          I followed the recipe pretty exactly except that I figured, after reading the other posts, I figured I wouldn't screw it up by adding the whole can of coconut milk and then cooking the sauce down a little so I did that.

                                                                                          This was very, very good. I made plain steamed rice and green beans to go along with it and picked up some naan and a little Indian appetizer combo from a nearby resto. Also, a cold beet salad with mustard seed that an American born Indian coworker brought me when I told her I was trying recipes from a curry book. She said this was her mother's recipe. I'm not a beet lover so I wasn't crazy about this, but Madame Ex .

                                                                                          I'm just curious about whether anyone cooking from this book serves wine with these meals. I'm always told beer goes best with this food, but there must be some wines that work well.

                                                                                          1. re: Hungryhughy

                                                                                            Hi Hungryhughy, glad to hear you have been having good luck with the book thus far. Yes I often find beer goes well with many Asian cuisines because it can compete with the strong flavours. That being said, I have paired a few local whites with Indian dishes in the past. Usually you need a little sweetness to compete with the strong aromatics and the heat. For me this usually means a good local riesling or a Gewurtz. Best of luck.

                                                                                            1. re: delys77

                                                                                              Or a Gruner or a Sauvignon Blanc.

                                                                                            2. re: Hungryhughy

                                                                                              Lots of suggestions for wine pairings:
                                                                                              (good list, taking regional Indian foods into account


                                                                                              (pairings for specific spice notes


                                                                                              (a discussion on winespectator forum



                                                                                              1. re: Hungryhughy

                                                                                                I like Riesling or Savingnon Blanc with spicier (as in, with many spices, not necessarily hot) foods.

                                                                                            3. Toasted Cumin-Coriander Blend p. 33

                                                                                              This has to be the easiest spice mixture ever. Coriander and cumin seeds are toasted in a skillet, then cooled and ground. The aroma was wonderfully warm with some citrusy notes and there is lots left to use again.

                                                                                              1. Breast of Chicken with Tomato and Coconut Milk p. 146

                                                                                                This is, as mentioned in the book, a quintessential Anglo-Indian Curry. Sliced red onion, garlic and ginger were sautéed then cubed chicken and curry powder were added and some coconut milk. At the end some tomatoes and cilantro were stirred in. I served it over steamed jasmine rice.

                                                                                                I chose this curry as a sort of introduction to curry flavors for my 3 year old and 15 month old. I didn't know if they would like it or not, but they gobbled up every bite ( and also every bite of the eggplant dish which I'll report on on the appropriate thread). This dish was quite mild yet still flavorful and quite quick to put together. We quite enjoyed it.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: michaelak79

                                                                                                  Yes, I've been surprised by how much my kids (5, 3 and 19 months) have taken to the Indian food. A happy surprise for me!

                                                                                                  1. re: michaelak79

                                                                                                    Breast of Chicken with Tomato and Coconut Milk (chicken curry) p. 146

                                                                                                    Because I had already made the English-style curry powder, this was a cinch to make after work. Bonus points for wokking (my husband really gets into it). Although a pleasant dish, we did not love it. With 660 different curries to choose from, we probably wouldn't make this one again...or at least until we try some more recipes first.

                                                                                                    1. re: michaelak79

                                                                                                      Not much to add here as previous posts cover the basics. I made this last night to use up some cilantro, ginger and tomatoes. It was easy, fast, and tasty. I may try it with potatoes and onions for a quick vegetable curry next time.

                                                                                                    2. Fennel Kissed Chicken (Murghi Poshto), pg. 132

                                                                                                      Debating between a couple of different chicken curries the other night I chose to make this one because RI recommends it as a good complement to Govindo bhog rice. We don't indulge in white rice often any more, but when we do my rice of choice is kalizeera, which if not the same rice is at least a kissing cousin to govindo bhog, and absolutely my favorite. So anyway, the chicken, was wonderful but would have been even better if I hadn't goofed and made a real rookie error. Abashedly I confess that my fond got a tad browner than it should have. Here's the gist:

                                                                                                      Marinate bone-in skin-off chicken pieces (thighs in my case) in a paste of mustard oil, fresh ginger, fennel seeds, salt, garlic, and dried chilies. Brown the chicken w/ the marinade in a skillet--RI says 5 min/side on medium high, as soon as I added the chix to the pan it was apparent that setting was too hot a stove for my particular burner & pan, so i dialed down to just below medium and was doing fine until the very end when it seemed some of the marinade wasn't quite cooked enough and dialed up to med-high again, bad move! I definitely got a few spots that were too dark! But things seemed salvageable, so I proceeded, removing the chicken, de-glazing the pan with water, adding a touch of cream and toasted poppy seeds, and adding back the chicken to simmer. Despite my darker than it should have been (and ever so slightly bitter) sauce, we ate every bit.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                                                        I had wanted to try one of the Bengali white poppy seed based recipes, and was debating whether to go for the red meat one or the chicken. This sounds really yummy even if it was slightly bitter from an overly toasty spicy paste...I'll be prepared for any errors at that step thanks to reading about this.

                                                                                                        I would love to try all of those exotic Bengali rice varieties as well. Maybe it doesn't really matter, but I think it's extra special and honors a dish when you pair it with its typical regional rice. I'll probably just use basmati anyway since that is what we have at home, though.

                                                                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                                                                          I have been on the lookout for kalizeera/govindo bhog rice ever since its tempting description in the Seductions of Rice cotm. Still no luck.

                                                                                                          Love the way you described your review....especially the brown fond part! That gave me a good chuckle.

                                                                                                        2. Bengali Five-Spice Blend 9PachPhoron), pg. 36

                                                                                                          Doesn't get much easier than this toss together--fennel + cumin + fenugreek + nigella + black mustard seeds, All left whole and just measured out from the mix to use. I made the Bengali Style Green Papaya recipe on pg. 643 with this and loved it!

                                                                                                          1. Untoasted Sri Lankan Curry Powder (Sinhalese Kari Masala), pg. 40.

                                                                                                            I made this tonight because it's an ingredient in the Sweet Pineapple with Coconut Milk and Coffee on pg. 645. Couldn't be simpler - throw coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, green cardamom seeds, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks in the spice grider and whiz it up. It tasted great in the dish and I imagine I'll find plenty of other uses for the blend - it's an ingredient in several of the other Sri Lankan recipes in the book.

                                                                                                            1. Stewed chicken in a mustard greens-spinach sauce (Saag murghi) p.136

                                                                                                              So good. I marinated the chicken for more than 24 hours in yogurt, ground coriander & cumin seeds, cilantro & cayenne. Because I was just making it for myself I didn't do a whole chicken, just two boneless, skinless breasts cut in half. I had a lot of baby kale to be used up so I used that instead of the spinach/mustard greens mix in the recipe. It was really good, great flavor. Saags are always one of my favorite choices in Indian restaurants and I would say this was one of the best I've had - the vibrancy of flavors was wonderful.

                                                                                                              1. Duck Stew with Black Cardamom and Cherries - p. 165

                                                                                                                I've been curious about this recipe for a while and decided to use Canadian Thanksgiving as an excuse to cook this very non-traditional, but festive seeming dish for my bf. This dish came out beautifully. The sauce was a rich dark red thanks to the cherries and smelled amazing thanks to the cardamom and fennel. I was quite pleased with the end results and so was he.

                                                                                                                To make, a duck is skinned and cut into 8 pieces in the same method as most of the chicken dishes. I rendered the fat and make cracklings with the scraps. The duck is coated with a blend of ginger paste, garlic paste, salt, and turmeric and left to marinate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. When you're ready to cook, heat oil in a skillet and brown the duck pieces on each side. Set the duck aside and in the same skillet, add sliced red onion, black cardamom pods, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and water to deglaze. Simmer. Then you add ground fennel, ground Kashmiri chiles (I used the substitute of cayenne + paprika), ground ginger, and more salt. More water is added and then frozen pitted cherries cut in half and chopped walnuts. The recipe calls for a 12 ounce bag, but mine was only 10. The mixture is brought to a boil and the duck is added back in to simmer. To finish the dish, the meat is removed and set aside while the sauce reduces. Serve the sauce over the duck and top with cilantro. The green cilantro adds to a beautiful presentation with the dark sauce. I will definitely be repeating this one at some point.

                                                                                                                14 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                                                  I've been intrigued by this dish also How sweet was it?

                                                                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                    It's not really a sweet dish. The cherries are nicely balanced by a bit of heat from the ground chiles and the aromatics. Neither one of us is fond of sweet sauces on top of meat or poultry and this was a big hit.

                                                                                                                  2. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                                                    Sounds so festive! Can you imagine this with turkey thighs -- or even chicken? Probably too much for chicken?

                                                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                      I'm extremely partial to duck, but I do think you could use this recipe with other birds. I almost put a comment about that in my original review, but then I decided I liked the duck too much to mention others!

                                                                                                                    2. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                                                      I've been wanting to make this one too but I've been hesitant to take the plunge and buy a duck for it since it's so pricey here. Thanks for the great review! Did you use sweet cherries or sour?

                                                                                                                      1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                        I know. I love duck, but it's so expensive. I used sweet cherries.

                                                                                                                        1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                                                          I figured - I'm a huge fan of sour cherries, though - if I try it, I might use sours and add just a little sugar. I'll have to see if I can find duck on sale!

                                                                                                                      2. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                                                        do you think this could be made with just duck legs, no breast?

                                                                                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                          I was actually thinking it would be better with just legs and thighs, since they braise so nicely. I'd reserve the breasts for a rare/seared preparation.

                                                                                                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                            Will now be keeping an eye out for duck legs when next I get to a Chinese grocer....a lot more reasonable than whole duck around here, and I'd be able to halve the recipe, which probably be plenty for us.

                                                                                                                            1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                              Perfect! I have an order of duck legs coming tomorrow, so I'll do it with those. Now if I can only find the cherries. That is difficult here.

                                                                                                                              1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                Any thoughts on a good vegan alternative to the duck? Chickpeas perhaps? The sauce sounds divine!

                                                                                                                              2. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                Definitely. I've made several of the chicken recipes in this book using only the legs and this recipe is similar to the way most of those are set up. I see no reason why legs only wouldn't work here as well.

                                                                                                                              3. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                                                                I made this tonight with sour cherries. It was good, but more because of the duck than the sauce. I don't know, it just seemed that the sum of the ingredients added up to less flavour than I thought it would. I am more excited about all the duck fat and cracklings that are rendering in the oven.

                                                                                                                              4. Is there something about the blend of spices that collects in the bottom of the masala dabba? Would you call it "dabba masala". Just wondering...

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: SplendidMonkey

                                                                                                                                  Sure, why not :)
                                                                                                                                  As long as we're wondering, I notice that Indian serving dishes are very often metal, as opposed to porcelain china, glass, etc. Is that usual in a home, or just for restaurants and magazine pix?

                                                                                                                                2. General spice substitution question - I was thinking about making a recipe that calls for white poppy seeds tonight, but I don't have any (or any black ones, for that matter). Is there something else I can substitute? Sesame seeds, maybe?

                                                                                                                                  1. Yogurt-Marinated Chicken in a Black Pepper Sauce (Chettinad Kozhi), pg. 122

                                                                                                                                    This one intrigued me because I've never had any Chettiar food before, and thought it would be interesting to try one. The chicken is marinated in a paste composed of toasted yellow split peas(chana dal--can anyone tell me are "yellow split peas" the same a chickpeas, just husked and split, or are they a separate legume altogether?), yogurt, lots of black peppercorns, salt, turmeric, garlic, cardamon, dried chilies, and cinnamon. RI has you make this in a blender, but I was making a half recipe and my blender isn't the best, so I ground the whole spices and split peas in a spice grinder before whipping the rest of paste in a blender, and glad I did, as it was still a fairly coarse paste.

                                                                                                                                    When it is time to cook, pop some mustard seeds in oil, add sliced onions, curry leaf and fresh chilies and saute, once browned add the chicken with marinade, sauteing about another 10 minutes. Add tamarind paste or concentrate (concentrate in my case) that has been diluted in water, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer covered. Just before serving remove the chicken, turn up the heat on the sauce to reduce it and add coconut ("fresh" frozen in my case) to the sauce, which is then poured over the chicken to serve.

                                                                                                                                    We thought this was a lovely dish. Much less assertive than I would have thought, but very complex and great balance of flavors. Mr. QN would have preferred for the coconut to have been more finely grated or even pulverized, but I liked the texture of the sauce as was. Here's the chicken resting, and the sauce as it is being reduced--never got a shot of the finished dish!

                                                                                                                                    34 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                      Hi Qianning:
                                                                                                                                      Yellow split peas NE chana dal/chickpeas.

                                                                                                                                      As far as I know, Chana dal is skinned and split cicer arietinum (chick peas) and is usually made from the smaller black/dark brown chickpeas. Split peas are skinned and split pisum sativum, a different legume.

                                                                                                                                      Your dish sounds delicious! What did you serve it with?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                        Ok, thanks, let's see if I've got this right...

                                                                                                                                        Chana dal = split chana, (made from kala chana ?) = usually called "split yellow peas"?? in English/American labeling. See page 763 of Iyer's book to see where I am getting this chana dal=yellow split peas. In truth I've been confused about this one for a long time.

                                                                                                                                        The chicken curry was very nice. I had looked through the book to see if I could find another Chettiar recipe to go with it, but no luck, so I served it with the green beans in tomato that I reviewed on the veg curry thread. They went well together. (I had thought the tomato sauce might be too acidic as a side, given the tamarind in the chicken, but in fact the tamarind is definitely a background note in the chicken curry, the sauce isn't acidic tasting at all, and the green beans in tomato were a good counter note to the rich tasting chicken).

                                                                                                                                      2. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                        Qianning, as far as I know Chana Dal is a split chickpea and Yellow Split Pea is another legume, the kind we use to make pea soup.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                          you know this one so confuses me.....I think my main questions are:

                                                                                                                                          1) What's the Latin name for what comes packaged as "Split Yellow Peas" in a American grocery store?
                                                                                                                                          2) If Chana Dal is Split Chickpeas, why do I see it in recipe books (including Iyer's) described as "Yellow Split Peas"?
                                                                                                                                          3) Why does the label on my Laxmi brand Chana Dal subtitle Chana Dal as "Split black grams"?
                                                                                                                                          4) Is Chana dal made from Kala Chana (i.e. black grams/chickpeas) or from Kabuli Chana (i.e. yellow chickpeas/garbanzos)?

                                                                                                                                          All of the above is a bit of a muddle/mystery to me.

                                                                                                                                          And if we get into the chickpea flours it gets even more crazy. And aside from simple curiosity, the reason I'd like to know is that there is a Burmese/Shan dish that I've been trying to make, where what chickpea/gram/dal is used is important, and I can't figure out what's what at the Indian grocery in this department.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                            Hi Qianning:

                                                                                                                                            From what I can gather (answers to your questions above):
                                                                                                                                            1. The Latin name for American store Split Yellow Peas = Pisum Sativum (I had mentioned this in my earlier reply).
                                                                                                                                            2. Lots of people seem to make this mistake of using split peas and chana dal interchangeably, and I am surprised RI (with a Chemistry training) did this. Split yellow peas is not chana dal. Even in India split peas (matar dal) are different from chana dal, though the former is not widely used as the sabut matar is more used.
                                                                                                                                            3. I don't know why the Laxmi chana dal calls it split black gram, because black gram is sabut urad, the scientific name for that is Vigna Mungo. Another mistake.
                                                                                                                                            4. Chana dal is usually made from Kala Chana, not Kabuli Chana. But both types of chana share the same scientific name: cicer arietinum (I have always wondered why).

                                                                                                                                            What type of dal is called for in the Burmese/Shan dish?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                              Super helpful, thank you! I think some of the English language labeling on Indian products is, not surprisingly, a bit random, but since I don't speak Hindi it is easier for me to remember.

                                                                                                                                              I take it sabut=/implies a whole legume/bean etc dal=/implies a split legume/bean?

                                                                                                                                              The Burmese Shan dish I'm trying to make is Shan Tohu.....some recipes call for using "split yellow peas", and some call for starting with besan (unspecified if it should be yellow or black besan).

                                                                                                                                              1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                Hi Qianning:

                                                                                                                                                Yes, you are correct, sabut = whole, and dal implies a split version of the sabut bean (e.g. sabut moong vs moong dal, etc.).

                                                                                                                                                I would love to hear more about Shan Tohu (I think that's the Burmese word for Tofu?). I think those recipe writers are also confusing / mistaking split peas and chana dal (for which no English word exists unless you say "split chick peas", which sounds like split peas, which is why the confusion probably arose).

                                                                                                                                                Could you describe that dish and/or share a recipe?

                                                                                                                                                I am not familiar with the distinction between yellow vs black besan.

                                                                                                                                                All best

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                  Here is one version of the Shan Tohu:

                                                                                                                                                  Tohu=Burmese name for Tofu, but it is NOT made with soy, instead it is made with Chick Peas.

                                                                                                                                                  Last time I tried to make this I used Swad brand product labeled "Kala Chana Besan-Chick Peas Flour". Total fail. But some of the problem was technique. Still I think the "Kala Chana Besan" for lack of a better way to put it is a bit like whole wheat flour, there is some dark husk in there somewhere.

                                                                                                                                                  I have other recipes for the tohu that call for using "split yellow peas", which are then soaked and ground to make ones own slurry (i.e. instead of adding water to besan flour).....those didn't work either, but not sure if I was starting w/ the right bean/legume. And so it goes. I'm still trying to find the right technique and couple it with the right ingredient to make this stuff.

                                                                                                                                                  And then there's a type of Burmese fritter, usually called "Split Pea Fritter", and it is a long debate in this house whether it should be made with yellow split peas or chana dal.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                    Hi Q: I was googling Burmese Tohu in the interim (slow day here) and I too realized that the "black" besan is the flour made from kala chana (=black chick peas) and the skin is supposed to be removed when it is milled into flour, so the black must just be from the name of the chick peas.
                                                                                                                                                    There is also a flour made from yellow split peas and Tohu can also be made from this.

                                                                                                                                                    Obviously I don't know anything about it, leave alone tips on technique.

                                                                                                                                                    I have heard before about the Burmese split pea fritters Baya Kyaw which are very similar to South Indian masala vadais. I have heard that they were introduced by the Indian community into Burma (historically a great deal of interaction between the two regions). I have seen recipes that use chana dal for the Burmese fritters, just as in the South Indian masala vadais. I think this is another arena where people loosely translate the legume used and say split peas when they mean chana dal, but you definitely could use either depending on what is available I think.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                      Oddly enough my Kala Besan has some darker flecks in it, kinda like whole wheat flour, and that fleck was a real problem when I tried to make the tohu.

                                                                                                                                                      Any idea what the flour made from Yellow Split Peas is called? Is it an Indian grocery store item? Or more a Euro-centric item?

                                                                                                                                                      The tohu is a challenge, mostly because there are some many contradictory approaches/recipes that I can find. At some point I'm going to have to approach it "scientifically" to figure out what's what.

                                                                                                                                                      The baya kyaw are like vadai and almost certainly introduced by the Indian community.

                                                                                                                                                      But actually the fritter/cracker I meant is called Pe Chan Gyaw, and it is more like a wafer thin crispy, with the split (i.e. half) pieces of chickpea/split pea left entire and suspended in a rice flour slurry that is fried..... it is a traditional accompaniment to mohingha, the fish and noodle soup that's the "national" dish of Burma. Completely different than vadai.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                        Hi Q: I really don't know more about the split pea flour as I have never worked with it or read much about it; just heard of it. I think you can find it in health food type stores or online in the US.
                                                                                                                                                        Your idea of systematically trying and describing how to make tohu would be great.
                                                                                                                                                        Pe Chan Gyaw sounds like a must-try and I have never tried it. Would love to.
                                                                                                                                                        Do update if you succeed in making it.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                          Although we are Indian, my dad's side of the family grew up in Burma. My aunts all use chana dal to make the fried fritters.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                                                                            Which type of fritters do they make, the flat lacy almost see through kind, or the puffy vadai/felafel-like kind?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                              The flat, thin ones with the pieces of dal in them. They aren't really see though though... they are fried until they are a light golden brown.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                                                                                That sounds about right. There's a long running discussion in this house whether top use "split yellow peas" or "chana dal" and whether the two are different....over the years I think we've made it with products labeled either way. Mr. QN swears it should be "split yellow peas"; and as he's the one who makes them, I only argue when we are out of "split yellow peas" but have chana dal. Not sure I can tell too much difference in the results.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                        I just read over the Burmese Tofu/tohu recipe you linked to -- that's quite a process!
                                                                                                                                                        Is it possible that grinding your own chickpeas into flour would make a difference?

                                                                                                                                                        Also, I found this online, thought it was interesting --

                                                                                                                                                        Technically, chana dal (or Bengal gram dal) has an extremely low glycemic index and is Cicer arietinum which is exactly the same name as that of garbanzo beans (chick peas) has a lot higher glycemic index.

                                                                                                                                                        How is that possible?

                                                                                                                                                        I have long assumed that they are different varieties. Actually, they are best described as different "market classes," according to Dr. Hans-Henning Mündel, research scientist (plant breeder) at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. He says that chana dal is the group "desi," while garbanzo beans are the group "kabuli."

                                                                                                                                                        According to e-mail from Dr. Richard M. Hannan, Research Leader/Horticulturist, USDA, ARS, NPGS, Regional Plant Introduction Station, Washington State University in Pullman, "In a quick nutshell, traditionally the large rounded or 'owl' shaped, cream colored chickpeas are called 'kabuli type', and all of the chickpeas with a tan, brown, red, green, black, etc. seed coat color are called 'desi type.'

                                                                                                                                                        These terms are not from any scientific background, but rather adopted terms in the Middle East." He added in a subsequent message a possible explanation why the desi type has a lower glycemic index than the kabuli type: "The darker or colored ones do provide more crude fiber than the larger cream colored types."

                                                                                                                                                        Dr. Mündel confirms this information. "As there are no genetic barriers to crossing among the two 'types' (or 'groups'), i.e. 'Kabuli' with 'Desi' —it probably best to realize that they are in the same species but have different enough appearance to warrant them being placed in different groups (of that species)," he writes.

                                                                                                                                                        The term Desi means "coming from the country" and became used as a way to differentiate specifically bred varieties from those locally grown. 'Desi' varieties or lines from one area could have quite a different set of characters from 'Desi' varieties/lines in other areas because of soil, climate, and other natural conditions. On the other hand, the 'Kabuli' type probably resulted from conscious selection for larger seed size.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                          re: Tohu--you wouldn't believe how many recipes/techniques/bits of anecdotal advice I've collected on this stuff. Now if I could only get that to add up to more than yellow sludge I'd be very happy!

                                                                                                                                                          re: Chana dal
                                                                                                                                                          1) Bengal gram dal---add another name variant to the growing collection!
                                                                                                                                                          2) Interesting that different varieties would have different glycemic index results. Definitely though, not all dried whole chickpeas look alike, some are larger and lighter, and some smaller and darker, I've noticed this even just comparing among brands at the Indian grocer. Not sure how much taste difference there is, though.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for that info! I too had wondered why desi/kala chana and kabuli chana were not seen as different varieties, and I had not realized that the GI is so different between the two.
                                                                                                                                                            Desi is the South Asian term (Hindi language) for "from the country", and we desis refer to ourselves as desis :)
                                                                                                                                                            It's also used in food - e.g. desi chicken, desi tomatoes, desi X or Y are implying indigenous varieties, contrasted to "vilayati" or "foreign" varieties which look better but taste different. People e.g. will seek out desi tomatoes (desi - naattu in Tamil) for a stronger taste, though they are smaller and may not look so conventionally pretty.
                                                                                                                                                            Kabuli afaik means "from Kabul" and I have used that term always, but "from Kabul" may just mean originating from outside India somewhere to the West.....

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks so much; I have been puzzling over this one since I went shopping to start cooking from 660 Curries and noticed that there were separate packages of two different legumes, one labeled chana dal and one yellow split peas. So now I wonder what RI means for us to use when he writes "chana dal or split yellow peas"--chana dal, I imagine?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                        See, that's a good question: which to use? I have (for e.g) made dal with chana dal, and with split peas, and the resulting taste/texture are rather different. IMO they are not total substitutes for each other.
                                                                                                                                                        Which specific recipe did you have in mind? If I have prior experience with that one I may be able to tell you what worked for me (though it may or may not be the original authentic choice).

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                          Well, I made the Slow-Cooked Creamy Black Lentils (p. 366), and I used yellow split peas as I already had a bag in my pantry, but I was thoroughly confused when I realized there was something else labeled "chana dal" at the market.

                                                                                                                                                          Just a guess, but after reading the discussion here (this is why I love CH!), I'm thinking now that while someone else may have been doing ingredient translations and gotten this confused.

                                                                                                                                                          ETA: I was also initially confused by all the recipes that have "red lentils" in the title but "split brown lentils" described as "salmon-colored" in the ingredient list. I have red AND brown lentisl in my pantry, and they are definitely different lentils.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                            the "skin" on brown lentils is brown, but the insides are salmon colored, so split brown lentils (masoor dal) are salmon colored, admittedly counter-intuitive to a English speaker like myself. But when terms like "red lentils" start getting invented and tossed into the mix, which as far as I know you won't see on any product label & etc, well, I agree, that's when it really does get so confusing. Its just so hard to know what are the "standard" terms, and what are the author's (or for that matter the producer's/packager's) in-house terms.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                              So the "red" lentils are just the insides of the ordinary whole brown lentils? I did not know that they were the same lentil, minus skin, as the brown--and wasn't sure I was understanding RI correctly on that issue though it didn't matter ultimately as I wasn't likely to be splitting lentils or removing skin!

                                                                                                                                                              You're right about the packaging; "masoor dal" is usually on the label. But you can probably guess the label on the bulk bin at my usual supermarket--"red lentils." But I completely understand that that's how they distinguish them from the ones in the next bins--"brown lentils" and "green lentils."

                                                                                                                                                              This a very educational month for me, and I'm loving it!

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                              1. Black lentils are sabut urad, so not analogous to split peas at all (i.e. different type, and whole vs split).

                                                                                                                                                              2. The other problem, as is becoming clear here, is that the English vocabulary just has not developed terms for all the different varieties of lentils. There is one catch-all term "lentils" and maybe you talk of color, e.g. brown lentils or red lentils. But, as Q points out, red lentils are split and skinned (they look like red discs), while brown lentils are whole and unskinned (they are usually brown pellets). And I think the red lentils are the brown lentils skinned and split. So when you say they are different lentils, are you sure about that?

                                                                                                                                                              But even if they are the same, skinned vs unskinned lentils have very different cooking times and treatments, which is why chana dal would not sub for black lentils (kali dal or maah ki dal), and you can't sub the salmon colored or red lentils for brown lentils or vv in a recipe

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                                "the English vocabulary just has not developed terms for all the different varieties of lentils"--Bingo!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rasam


                                                                                                                                                                  For Slow-Cooked Creamy Black Lentils, along w/the black lentils, which I found (though they weren't labeled Sabut Urad), the recipe also calls for "1/2 cup yellow split peas (chana dal)" so that is what caused me to wonder which RI meant for this recipe, YSP or CD?

                                                                                                                                                                  And while I did not understand--until today--that the salmon-colored masoor dal are simply the skinned and split brown lentil, I could see that the masoor dal in my pantry was different (a different product, I understand now, not a different lentil) from the brown lentils. And I've always understood that they aren't interchangeable. While I've cooked different lentils (or their iterations) for a long time, I'm only really learning all these distinctions now.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                    I am getting rather out of my depth here, not being a lentil taxonomist.

                                                                                                                                                                    From a session with Professor Google, I learn that masoor dal is lens esculenta or lens esculata, and one site describes red, black, and green varieties of lentils as lens culinaris; another site calls lentils lens esculata and says they come in different varieties and colors (!).

                                                                                                                                                                    I wish someone with a background in botany/taxonomy could answer this in more detail. I think Gautam would know this but he does not seem to have visited chow of late. For that matter, RI has vanished too. I wonder why *he* is no longer around his own COTM thread?

                                                                                                                                                                    ETA: I think LuckyF could also add a lot here?

                                                                                                                                                                    So we are left to guess when he means us to be strict about chana dal, and when we can substitute YSP :)

                                                                                                                                                                    Personally I use chana dal for 99% of the applications unless there is some directive in the recipe specifically to use split peas or matar dal.....

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for taking time to try to get this straight, Rasam, You've been a great help.

                                                                                                                                                                      (And what a ocmedy of errors we had when I sent my husband to the supermarket last evening for "red lentils" or "masoor dal." The ensuing three-way phone conversation between me, my husband, and the store clerk and stocker he was consulting was hilarious.)

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                        You're welcome, nomad!

                                                                                                                                                                        Your local supermarket has masoor dal? :) Did they have red lentils? :D

                                                                                                                                                                        It's great that your husband collared the store clerk and stocker and got them to answer. I would LOVE to hear that three way conversation - do reproduce a bit if you can?


                                                                                                                                                        2. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                          OK, here is what I know and found via a quick search:

                                                                                                                                                          1) From Wikipedia: "Split peas are an agricultural or culinary preparation consisting of the dried, peeled and split seeds of Pisum sativum. They are peeled, in that in addition to not being in the seed pod in which they grew, the splitting process also removes the dull colored outer skin of the pea. They come in yellow and green varieties. The peas are round when harvested and dried. Once dry, after the skin is removed, the natural split in the seed's cotyledon can be manually or mechanically separated, in part to encourage faster cooking due to increasing the surface area exposed to heat."
                                                                                                                                                          2. I am sure this is a mistake
                                                                                                                                                          3. Because Chana Dal is made from BLACK chickpeas and the term gram is used instead of dal or legume
                                                                                                                                                          4. Chana Dal is made from Kala Chana

                                                                                                                                                          I do not know much about chickpea flour. Buy mine at an Indian grocerer close to home. Once I am back at home (next week) I'll check Indian Grocery book to see if there is more info on dals and flours.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                            I think you've mentioned that indian Grocery book before, I really should track down a copy. The flours in an Indian store are so intriguing, but I am clueless.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                              I've thought of myself as a muggle when I go to the Indian market (Harry Potter reference), because I think the Indian natives must be wizards to understand how to use so many ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: SplendidMonkey

                                                                                                                                                                I have red lentils but are called football lentils that don't look split. Now I am really confused!

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                        I made this Chicken in Black Peppercorn sauce, pg. 122, as well tonight, using cubed boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I agree with qianning - it's delicious. Mine turned out quite spicy, as the only fresh peppers I had in the house were long red ones that are HOT, but I wanted it hot so that was fine by me. The texture of the coconut in the sauce is a little weird, IMO - I might leave it out entirely next time, or just put a fine grating over the top as a serving garnish. A keeper!

                                                                                                                                                      3. - Roulade of Taro Leaves with a Tomato-Mustard Sauce p.107
                                                                                                                                                        Made this with collard leaves, as suggested by RI. The rolls appear finicky to make, but not too bad. Basically you make a flavourful paste with chickpea flour, tamarind, coriander, cumin, sugar, chile flakes, turmeric and ginger and you smear it onto collard leaves. You stack the leaves and roll them into a roulade. This is then steamed. After it has cooked, you chop them into slices, pan-fry them with a tomato-mustard sauce. The sauce seemed a tad underwhelming to me, but it was more of an accent than anything else. One tomato won't begin to cover for so many pieces. Anyways, it was a great mix of flavours and quite an unusual dish that I hadn't seem before. Definitely worth the effort.

                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: blinknoodle

                                                                                                                                                            This is one of my favorite dishes in the world, when made with taro leaves. It's called "patra." I have seen it at about 5 restaurants in the United States.

                                                                                                                                                            1. Battered Cheese with a Raisin-Red Chile Sauce (Paneer Kishmish) p. 99

                                                                                                                                                              Well this I'll be trying again. It's very good to eat, but I made a mess of it. The idea is to soften raisins and dried chiles, and whir these into a paste with garlic and salt. This is spread onto little rectangles of firm paneer cheese, and topped with another rectangle of same. This sandwich gets dipped into a batter of chickpea flour, rice flour, turmeric. (I substituted tapioca flour for the rice flour.) The liquid in the batter is water left from soaking the chiles and raisins. My homemade paneer was not as firm as it should have been, and I think I spread the filling too thickly. And the batter may have been too thin. So the result wasn't gorgeous. I didn't bother with the sauce because I had so little left of the chile/raisin paste, the sauce base.

                                                                                                                                                              The flavor was fine, though, sweet/hot, crunchty/salty/garlicky. All got eaten without effort. I'll know better next time how to make this a little more presentable. The ingredient list should include patience and common sense.

                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                Looks darn good to me. I have a feeling Mr. QN would adore these.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                  "The ingredient list should include patience and common sense." hahaha good one! I think those two are the rarest ingredients around :) but should be there in ALL cooking (and every other endeavor).

                                                                                                                                                                  Tell me where I can find some that doesn't run out in about 2 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                    I see nothing wrong with how these look, blue room--scrumptious to me. And they sound fabulous.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Mangalorean Chicken Curry w/Tamarind and Coconut Milk (Kori Gassi), p. 127

                                                                                                                                                                    This is not as quick a curry as I anticipated, but its very nice flavors compensated for our late dining hour. I had done zero prep--no skinning the chicken, measuring the spices, chopping the veggies—so it took me a good two hours to get dinner on the table. If you’re got everything ready to go, it could be ready in just under an hour.

                                                                                                                                                                    You start by measuring into a bowl ¼ c. shredded dried coconut, 1 T ea. white poppy and coriander seeds, 1 tsp. ea. black (or yellow) mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, 6 dried & stemmed Thai chiles, and 1 tsp canola oil and stirring until everything is coated w/oil. This mixture is added to a pre-heated skillet and cooked and stirred for a couple of minutes until it is all reddish-brown, as the perfume of toasting coconut wafts through your cooking space.

                                                                                                                                                                    Dump the toasted spices into a blender jar. To the hot skillet add another 2 T. canola oil, add onion (lg. red, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced) and garlic (6 cloves, minced). Cover and cook over med. heat until the onions lose their moisture and start browning, 15-20 minutes. Push them to the side; add skinned chicken pieces (a combination of thighs and drumsticks for us) and brown for 6-7 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                    Meanwhile add ¼ c. water to the spice mix and blend ; mixture will be gritty. Add another ¼ c. water and blend to make a thick paste. Once chicken is browned, add the spice paste to the skillet along w/ 1 c. coconut milk, 1 tsp. tamarind paste (I might double if I were to make this again), salt (I used 1 tsp rather than 1 ½ recipe suggests), and curry leaves (Iyer suggests 12-15 large; I used 15, and mine were very small, but this turned out to be the right amount for us). Since my skillet wouldn’t easily accommodate the chicken and my mixing in these ingredients and scraping all the browned bits, I removed the chicken for this step, and then returned it once the sauce was mixed well, turning and basting well, and then covering the pan; I reduced the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so, at which point I transferred the chicken pieces to a warm dish while the sauce reduced and thickened for another five or so minutes before being poured over the chicken, which was then quickly devoured by two hungry souls. Accompaniments were Bhutan red rice, steamed broccoli, and buttered naan (a frozen brand I tried that we actually liked better than the refrigerated “fresh” I’d previously bought at the Indian market).

                                                                                                                                                                    I don’t know why I was surprised when this ended up so dark; for some reason I imagined a lighter-hued curry. In fact, this looked very much like last week’s Priyanka’s Shrimp (and the recipes are somewhat similar) though we found the flavors more balanced here. I wouldn’t have minded a little more tartness and I definitely could have used more heat. (This had almost none although I used the higher amount of the 4-6 chiles Iyer suggests. I’m beginning to think my dried Thai chiles are unusually small; they *are* really tiny, and haven’t seemed to add much heat to any of the dishes in which I’ve used them). That said, we liked this a lot, and I’d make it again. In the immediate future, though, I’ll be looking for a curry of another color.

                                                                                                                                                                    15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                        I usually use the dry red Indian chillies (which are about 1.5 to 2 inches long) in other recipes and 4-5 of those are a good amount, that balance out the other spices and are not too spicy (for us). So 4-5 of your tiny chillies may not be enough.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                                          I have a bag of dried chiles, simply labeled "Dried Indian chiles," so I think I'll sub those in next time dried Thai are stipulated. They are a lot bigger than these Thai chiles.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                          Kori Roti (a manglorean delicacy) is the best combination for htis dish. Its a similar to papad, but made of rice and possibly coconut. Think of it as a dehydrated rice crepe. Kori = Chicken, thats why its paired up by the ancestors. Kori roti used to be available in Subzi Mandi, but have not found them in a couple of year. A very good replacement of Kori Roti is "Paan Pole", which is made from a very thin batter of soaked rice and grated coconut. To make this Paan pole (Paan = thin as a leaf, pole = dosa = indian equivalent of crepe), soak a cup of white rice with a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds for an hour. Grind this soaked rice and seeds with 1/4 cup of fresh/frozen grated coconut. Add salt to taste, and make a thin batter (use 1 cup of water to a cup of rice). Heat a griddle or non-stick pan, grease it with canola oil or ghee and pour 1/4 cup of batter and spread it around the pan by swirling it. the batter should form lace texture. cover the pan for a minute, open the lid, turn, allow it to crisp and serve. Scoop the ghassi with the dosa, its a match made in heaven.

                                                                                                                                                                          This is instant dosa type, while the Kori ghassi is cooking, the rice will soak, grind the batter while you are providing finishing touches to the ghassi, start preparing the dosa as everybody is getting seated on the table.
                                                                                                                                                                          Other good combination will be rice noodles. Cook the noodles per package instructions, serve it a bowl, sprinkle some coconut oil over the noodle, then ladle in the ghassi.. yummy!!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chowshok

                                                                                                                                                                            That dosa does sound good, and do-able if I'm organized; I'll have to try it next time I make this dish.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chowshok

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm thinking about trying the mangalorean pork curry this weekend. Do you think the dosa goes well with that as well, as I may get even more ambitious and attempt that too?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                This dosa is a good pair to a lot of south Indian coconut based gravies/curries. I am sure it will taste great. Good luck with your attempt and please post your feedback.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chowshok

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not going to get to this this weekend as I'd hoped, nut it's on my short list, so one of the next couple of weekends.
                                                                                                                                                                                  This is going to sound like a very dumb question, but for that dosa, I am assuming that soaked rice is soaked, *cooked* rice, right? I am dying to try my hand at that dosa.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi NCW: the rice to be soaked is raw rice, not cooked. And the expensive long grain varieties like basmati will be less effective. It would be better to use just ordinary white rice (even if long grain) as that will be a little more starchy. Medium grain also OK. Don't use short grain however. HTH

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you--I would have not gotten this right. I wonder if Calrose rice would work--does anyone know if that is considered medium grain? TIA!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                        Wikipedia calls Calrose medium grain. It should work fine for the recipe that Chowshok posted above. (The basic idea is don't waste your expensive basmati on this kind of thing). Chowshok's is a 'quick' recipe, and not a classic dosai or idli batter recipe. Quick recipes are very useful and I would like to hear back how that recipe worked for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                        To make classic dosais / idlis you have to soak regular rice + parboiled idli rice, then separately soak urad dal+fenugreek seeds. The next day, grind separately in an idli grinder for best results. Then ferment overnight in a warm oven. Then make idlis or dosais. Phew.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Here is a link that is really useful step by step, with pictures, and a picture of an idli grinder at the end.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Or, buy a carton or pre made batter at the Indian store :)

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                                                          As Rasam pointed out, any medium grain rice will do, do not use basmati for this. my wife uses the normal sticky kind that is available in many local super markets. all the indian brands like basmati, sona masoori, etc is used for our daily consumption of rice. even the par boiled rice for idli's/dosa's is perfect.
                                                                                                                                                                                          the Paan pole that i mentioned is a classic dish that is very popular in many communities along the western coast of India. the absence of the fermentation process makes it a quick recipe, & very flavorful. the popular dosa with urad daal has a very different flavor and taste.
                                                                                                                                                                                          coincidently ncw, without my knowledge my wife made the Paanpole for bfast on Saturday morning. there was tons of left over batter (which she usually does, so that we can have dosas for 2-3 bfasts) and i decided to make the mangalore ghassi. I made it with 2 pounds of chicken thighs. It was a very easy method and it took me only about 40 minutes from start to finish.
                                                                                                                                                                                          the traditional method that I followed before took me hours to accomplish the same dish. the only change i did to the recipe from 660 curries was to add 4 cardmom, 4-5 cloves. my wife didnt know the difference between this recipe and the traditional.
                                                                                                                                                                                          I made two times the recipe for all the ingredients, divided them in to two. one part for the chicken and other part for a dish with "soya chunks" for the vegetarians. they all loved it. a major success.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chowshok

                                                                                                                                                                                            Wow--I am glad to hear the 660 version measures up as I had no basis of comparison, Chowshok. I just know we liked it.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Now you and Rasam have me convinced I must try that Paanpole dosa (though I'm a little intimidated as I think I will have to grind the rice by hand--or do you think it would work in a food orocessor?)

                                                                                                                                                                                            My sister, in another city, alas, has two Indian colleagues (from different regions). She has told them many times of my love of Indian food (though I'm quite ignorant; my knowledge is based on eating in restaurants and some cooking from Madhur Jaffrey's books prior to this COTM), and they have both offered to cook for me when I visit. I am dying for my sister to accept so I can actually experience home cooking--and even better if I got to sample examples from different regions. So far she hasn't, but one of these women sent several items home with my sister when I was there last spring; among them was a kind of pancake, not super thin, with bits of onion in it. I'm not sure exactly what it was called, but it was really good.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                              NCW, glad to see so much enthusiasm for Indian food. I love to cook and love to feed people my concoctions. ;-)
                                                                                                                                                                                              We use the Oster blender (12 speeds) one available for 35 bucks at Walmart for all our grinding. It does have a "Grind" Speed too that really works wonders. I know some of my Indian friends might balk at the idea of using a blender, cos using a grinder stone (the traditional way of grinding pastes, chutneys & batters) is considered to be the Right way.. but whatever means "cooks your daal", right? literally..we were recently considering to buy a better grinding m/c (preferably an Indian brand),as parts of our 5yr old Oster wore out, but then settled on a new Oster.we also ordered for spare parts to replace the worn out parts of the old Oster, now we have two blenders on the counter..

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chowshok

                                                                                                                                                                                                an update to the blenders in our house. my wife surprised me with a Vitamix for the holidays (yes, a very late update). Earlier I wonder what all the fuss is about with the blender. But having used it for the past 2 and half months, it makes such a difference, that I have hardly used the two Osters that we have occupying the counter space.
                                                                                                                                                                                                All the Dosa/Idli batters, chutneys, curry blends, get done into fine pastes in less than a minute. Wow!! Such a great investment. What did I do without it all these years??!!

                                                                                                                                                                          2. I'd love some advice for the sambhar masala (p33). It calls for fresh curry leaves but then tells you not to refrigerate it. Will it not go bad?

                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: blinknoodle

                                                                                                                                                                              Hi b'noodle, I've kept the sambhar masala for months in the fridge and it still tastes and smells great. I'm sure the fresher the better, but I wouldn't worry about it too much.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: blinknoodle

                                                                                                                                                                                You basically dry the leaves out by toasting them so I don't think it will be a problem.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Garam Masala question: If anyone happens to be tuning in here right now, I'd love a little assist. I don't have my book, in fact it seems to have gotten lost, but I'm planning on making the cashew chicken curry with cilantro sauce, as it is online here:
                                                                                                                                                                                Can anyone tell me whether the garam masala called for is the Punjabi garam masala? I have some of that made up, so I'm hoping it might be. (Although I've discovered by accident that, although it may not be authentic, it's not a disaster to use the wrong spice mix in a dish.)

                                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, it is the Punjabi garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                  You lost the book?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh, thank you so much blue room!
                                                                                                                                                                                    I haven't been able to find it anywhere, and it's so big. We've had quite a few people in and out, and it was out on the counter. I think someone just shoved it somewhere I haven't found yet.
                                                                                                                                                                                    In the meantime, thank goodness for online recipes and helpful chowhounds!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                                                                      It was on the kitchen counter? Check the following places:
                                                                                                                                                                                      recycling bin, newspaper/mail stack, in the fridge/freezer, in the pantry, in the laundry basket, in the dog's basket, on the coffee table, on top of the fridge, in the hanging basket of onions/potatoes, in kids' backpack/homework stash,
                                                                                                                                                                                      (these are all places I have found stuff after having just set them down on the kitchen counter. Sometimes I moved them and blanked, sometimes other well meaning folks did)
                                                                                                                                                                                      I hope you find it soon!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks, that's so funny. I'm away for the weekend now, but when I return, I will check all of those places!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                                                          I couldn't find one of my books anywhere. Turned out it had slipped down behind a radiator!

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Stewed Chicken in a (mustard green)-Spinach Sauce, Saag Murghi page 136

                                                                                                                                                                                    This ones a keeper for us. This is one of those dishes which I just know will go into the regular rotation and become a inspiration for many riffs and adaptations.

                                                                                                                                                                                    First- the preparation. Marinate chicken (I used boneless, skinless thighs) in yogurt with cilantro, coriander, cumin, cayenne (I cut way back for the kids), salt (also cut back) and turmeric. Heat 2 Tbsp oil and brown chicken, then remove. (He instructs adding another 2 Tbsp oil at this point, but I did not). Add onion and garlic to the pan and cook until darkened 15-20 minutes. Then start adding greens by the handful. He calls for mustard greens and spinach, but I used about 2/3 Tuscan kale and 1/3 spinach, total of just over a lb of greens. Stir in water and the reserved marinade and then cook down (he recc 5-7 minutes, since I left the stems in my kale, I cooked more like 20 minutes here). Chicken is added back to finish cooking (very quick with my boneless pieces). he instructs you to process the sauce to make it smoother, but I just left it as is. Wasn't enough depth in the skillet to use the immersion blender and I didn't want to dirty the FP.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I loved this dish. It was not flashy, but a nice layered combination of flavors and super healthy with all those greens (I used about a lb of chicken for my lb of greens). This is the kind of food I wish I ate regularly. The prep was too much for my average weeknight, but I'm already thinking that I could probably use the fried onion paste (love that stuff) to short cut the onion cooking step and if I have my chicken marinating ahead of time, I could probably get this done on a weeknight. I have a feeling I will make this with collards next time and maybe see how it tastes with the last of my garden tomatoes thrown into the sauce as well. I love this book!

                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                                                                                                      You should try the Moghlai-Style Chicken with Spinach Almonds and Raisins (p150) for another easy weeknight dish with greens! There's no reason you couldn't use thighs if that's what you prefer.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                                                                                                                        I (sort-of) made the Moghlai-Style Chicken with Spinach Almonds and Raisins last week. I haven't reported on it, because due to flipping pages back and forth, I ended up adding the wrong masala! It was still very tasty!

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Coriander-Scented Untoasted Blend (bin bhuna hua garam maasala), pg. 30

                                                                                                                                                                                      Made this to use in an egg curry. The peppercorn/clove/cardamon combination that's at the heart of this is really lovely. And it is un-toasted, so its a snap to put together.

                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                        Would you say the clove dominates? The Punjabi masala with cinnamon has a little too much cinnamon for me, so I'm wary.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                          i'd say black pepper-then cardamon-then clove in that order were what I taste, but I'm not the best at separating flavors from a mix, and I like clove a lot, so it wouldn't be "in my face" so to speak.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                          I made this to use in the Palak Gosht (spinach lamb curry). It was very easy to put together but I would definitely use fewer cloves in future, as the clove flavor was too dominant for me. I am pretty sensitive to the flavor of cloves though. I made a half recipe and glad I did, as I have plenty left over and it is quite simple to put together. Oh, and I used less cayenne then called for because my baby and toddler can't take things too spicy. I figured I could always add extra cayenne to a particular dish if necessary but I can't take it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Easter Eggs (Pyaaz Waale Unday) pg. 168

                                                                                                                                                                                          Trying to throw together a last minute meal for some unexpected guest this egg curry really did the job. Hard boil eggs (the recipe calls for 4, but I stretched it to 6, which was fine); peel and slice in half length wise, set aside. In a skillet stir fry some onions and garlic, then add some bin bhuna hua masala, remove from the heat add water, put the sauce in a blender and whiz. Return the sauce to the pan add cilantro, chopped tomatoes. chilies and salt. RI has one add the egg halves to the pan at this point, but I decided to cook the sauce a bit more to break down the tomatoes a little bit (was in a hurry and hadn't really chopped them finely enough), and then added my eggs just long enough to warm them up. In truth I'm not much of an egg fan, but the sauce was wonderful, and the guests, who are definitely egg eaters, went back for seconds, so I think they liked it.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Breast of Chicken in an Onion-Turmeric Sauce (Pyaaz Murghi) p. 153

                                                                                                                                                                                            This one is relatively fast. Boneless breast of chicken, cubed, and marinated in a puree of red onion with oil, salt, and turmeric. After 45 minutes or so, cook this mix fairly hot so the sauce and chicken brown. Then some water is added to deglaze, and this creates more sauce to simmer the chicken cubes 'til cooked through. Three more ingredients to finish -- Punjabi garam masala (page 25) and chopped cilantro and thin slices of fresh ginger (I grated on big holes) get added. Cook just a little more to thicken.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Many here on COTM raved about the Punjabi garam masala, but I'm not so crazy about the cinnamon. I'll tinker a little and adjust the proportions. Other than that, this is another new and tasty flavorful curry! I served it over Louisiana popcorn rice and we were fed well.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                              Breast of Chicken in an Onion-Turmeric Sauce (Pyaaz Murghi) p. 153

                                                                                                                                                                                              We made this during the work week. Having already made the masala, this one is a quick meal. We enjoyed this, but the cinnamon is very present, my husband said that the masala smelled a little like Christmas. I was worried about the addition of raw ginger, but we liked its addition. We would make this again for a quick and healthy weeknight meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Sri Lankan-Style Hard-Cooked Eggs with Coconut Milk - p. 166

                                                                                                                                                                                              I was on my own for dinner last night and wanted something quick and easy. This fit the bill quite well as I already had the spice blend made and had all other ingredients on hand. The coconut milk sauce on this is rich and flavorful without having too much heat (I used one serrano chile for a 1/2 recipe).

                                                                                                                                                                                              To make, heat oil in a saucepan and cook fenugreek seeds and cinnamon stick (I used 1 for a half recipe). Finely chopped red onion is added and cooked until it browns a bit. Sri Lankan curry powder is sprinkled in and cooked. Then coconut, milk, salt, and turmeric are stirred in. Hard-cooked eggs are lowered into the simmering sauce and the sauce is cooked until it thickens. He calls for extra-large or jumbo eggs, but I just used large. He suggests serving on steamed white rice, ideally muttu sambha. I used some leftover saffron basmati. You'll definitely want the rice to eat the sauce with. The dish as a whole was a bit heavy on the cinnamon. I didn't mind it, but I know some here are more averse to it. He also suggests you could make this using peeled potatoes which I think would make a very nice side.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Breast of Chicken with tomato and coconut milk - p 146

                                                                                                                                                                                                Cubed chicken breast meat is coated in a Madras curry powder and sauteed in a hot wok with onions, ginger and garlic, and a simple coconut milk and tomato sauce.
                                                                                                                                                                                                This was extremely easy (good, because I was cooking two other dishes from this book at the same time) and was a FABULOUS way to use up leftover turkey meat from Thanksgiving. The flavours worked extremely well with turkey instead of chicken.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Since my meat was already cooked, I just cooked up the onions, ginger and garlic, added the coconut milk (which started to thicken immediately) and the curry powder, then tossed the turkey meat until it was heated through and added the tomato & cilantro at the very end. It actually took longer to cook the basmati rice than it did to make this curry, so it gets two thumbs up for speed (once you've got the curry spice blend made, of course). We had some left over and I found this dish lost nothing in flavour or texture for having sat overnight in the fridge & then subjected to microwaving.

                                                                                                                                                                                                My one quibble with the dish was the amount of ginger - I liked the crunch of the ginger matchsticks and their strong flavour, but I felt there was entirely too much of it. Since I am a fan of ginger normally, I was surprised to find myself wanting to pick through and remove some of it as I ate. Next time I think I would use half the ginger and would cut the matchsticks in half so that we don't get quite so much of the ginger taste in each mouthful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Looks great!
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I must say I agree on the ginger matchsticks. In the one recipe where I used them (Sabzi Dalcha) they were a nice touch but there was a bit too much of it for me taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Steamed Chickpea Flour Cake with Peanuts and Spinach -- p 112

                                                                                                                                                                                                  A nice gluten-free and vegetarian option from this book. Spinach, yogurt, ground peanuts and chickpea flour are mixed with spices and ginger/chile paste and slowly steamed until firm. The accompanying tomato and cilantro sauce adds some nice depth of flavour and I found it strangely addictive. Without the sauce, the cake can be a little bland, so be sure to make it or serve the cake with some other kind of spicy/sweet condiment. It was tasty, but I had some issues with the execution of the dish...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  This was yet another lesson for me in reading the whole recipe first. I didn't notice that the cake needed to steam for at least an hour, and hadn't properly thought through how I was actually going to do the steaming. :-) We ended up not eating till very late. If you're thinking of trying this recipe I would encourage you to check your kitchen supplies to make sure that you not only have all the items you need to steam this cake but that they all fit together properly too. You need to have a heavy, lidded stock pot, a cake pan that fits into it, and some kind of heatproof dish (I used a small ramekin) that can sit in the bottom of the stock pot and hold the cake pan up, but not so high that the cake pan prevents the lid from fitting tightly on to the pot. Then you have the issue of needing to periodically check the water level under the cake pan, and pour more water in if necessary. My cake pan only *just* fit in the stock pot that I was using, and it's quite dangerous to be fiddling with the hot pan with steam bursting out from around it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The cake seemed to never really become firm and spongy on top, either, because the condensation from the bottom of my pot lid was dripping down onto it the whole time it was cooking. I kept on and on cooking it, and then testing the top with a fork which would come away with gooey mixture on it. Eventually I just declared it done and took it out to cool for 15 minutes, when it did eventually firm up and dry out a bit and it was quite firm in the end. I'm hoping to expand my repertoire of steamed puddings this winter and I imagine this problem could crop up again, so if anyone has some tips for me I'd love to hear them. Should I have cracked the lid a bit to let some steam escape? Boiled the water under the cake less vigorously?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                                                                                                                    A parchment paper drop lid can help with the condensation, so can a thin kitchen towel between the lid and the pan. Or if you have a cover for the vessel your food is in (i.e. a pyrex dish w/ lid, or an old fashioned steaming can w/ lid), you can cover that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks, I will try these ideas! Really appreciate your reply.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Cashew Chicken with a Cilantro Sauce p 155

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've made this once before and gave it 4/5 stars (noted in my cookbook). I'd give it the same this time. t's sweet and delicious. I noted to cut back on the cayenne, though the tiny amount I put in this time was completely undetectable, my 2 year old was able to eat it easily. I cooked the onions quite a bit longer and slower than he suggests, and still finished it too soon (the chicken was *perfect* when I finished, but was a bit tough by the time DH got home from work). Definitely a recipe to make at the last minute rather than while your kids are napping, no matter how much you want to get a jump start on dinner :) Very quick and easy. You could easily substitute whatever meat you want. Served it with roti and a vegetable soup from 1000 Indian Recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cashew Chicken with a Cilantro Sauce (Dhania Murghi) p. 155


                                                                                                                                                                                                      Quick, flavorful and healthy. A cilantro-cashew puree (red onions, water, raw cashews and cilantro) is added to sautéed, sliced red onions. Cook until most of the liquid is evaporated and the sauce leaves a thin brown fond in the bottom of the pan. Add chicken and quickly sear. Deglaze with water then add salt, Punjabi garam masala and cayenne. Simmer covered until the chicken is cooked through. Uncover and cook until the sauce is thickened.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Like the other dishes I’ve made from this book with chicken breast, the chicken comes out very moist and tender. The cashew cilantro mixture makes a flavorful sauce for the chicken. The masala keeps it from being one note, then the sweet onions and kick of cayenne add even more flavor. I’d make this again on a work night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cashew Chicken with a Cilantro Sauce (Dhania Murghi), page 155.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I was able to make this during the period that my book was "lost," thanks to an online recipe and some garam masala guidance from blue room. I have to say, it wasn't much to look at, especially in the dim-ish light where we were staying, but it was very flavorful. The cilantro cashew sauce with the chicken tasted familiar to me. I think it triggered a taste-memory of Bademiya's justly famous Bombay chile-and-cilantro chicken from the ENYT Cookbook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've had a tendency to want to throw more spices in, as some of the amounts seem so small. But I'm getting accustomed to the subtle flavors, and appreciating how they work together instead of overwhelming.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I served this with a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, serrano chiles, limes, cumin seeds, and black peppercorns; a side dish of potatoes and peas sautéd in garlic and ginger; and a little plop of cooling yogurt. The entire meal was easy, fragrant, and very rewarding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You got me at the Bademiya's comparison!
                                                                                                                                                                                                          This looks very good to me, LN. What chicken did you use--dark//white? both?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Skinless breasts, cut "lengthwise into 1" strips," as written. They were very moist, and a great vehicle for the sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not much to add, other than we loved it too. It came together very quickly and the sauce was nice with rice. Now I am trying to remember if I added the Punjabi masala at the end! I think I forgot. Hmm, will add to the leftovers. I used skinless, boneless thighs cut in strips--perfect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I made this tonight, using boneless, skinless thighs cut into chunks. Delicious and SO easy. I chose it because I was looking for something quick, with ingredients I had on hand, and this was perfect. DH loves cilantro and proclaimed this his favorite recipe from the book (although he has said that about many dishes - in fact, pretty much all of them that contain cashews, LOL). I served it with oven roasted green beans tossed with Sriracha and white rice, although I think the author's suggestion of noodles would be fantastic. I'll make this again and again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks to TDQ's quick and easy favorite COTM recipes thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/970093) I decided to make this (I'm obsessed with this thread and planning the next few weeks meals around it) - the Cashew Chicken Curry with Cilantro Sauce. I don't have the book so used a link (given in TDQ's thread in her very detailed list of recipes listed). This was, indeed, very easy and tasty. We normally eat spicier curries, so I made the mistake of serving it with a cucumber raita. Next time around I think I'll serve it with a red onion, tomato, cilantro salad. But the basic chicken recipe, while subtle, is very tasty over basmati rice. I'll definitely add this to the "easy, quick, tasty" week night list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Ginger Chicken with Peanuts and Coconut (Murghi ni Curry) p. 131
                                                                                                                                                                                                              (This wasn't made properly, the ginger and garlic I ground up on the spot with some oil and used for the chicken rub, and powdered spices also were used, to use them up.) The chicken is browned while peanuts are toasted in a pan with coriander and cayenne. This gets blended with some reconstituted coconut, a paste to spread over the chicken (it doesn't stick well!) A can of tomatoes is added, all is simmered 'til done. Remove chicken, thicken sauce, and serve.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mr. blue room liked this, noticed there was no cumin in this one. I thought it was fine -- can't complain since I took such shortcuts -- but wasn't excited as I have been with other 660s.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Served it with the cabbage on page 474, which should be cabbage *and* spinach, (more shortcuts.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                              It was quite good, though -- leftovers of both for lunch today, pictured.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              A tiny bit burned out on curry, next week will try to make the bread, roti.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Seems a lot of people are getting curried out these days. I haven't had much chance to get into this book too much, having company staying with us since the beginning of the month. Things are back to normal as of today, and I'm hoping to cook curries until I, too, am sated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Too bad about the ginger chicken dish.....looks lovely anyway!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Yogurt p. 23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                This weekend was full of firsts in the kitchen for me- including making yogurt. This could not have been easier. Bring milk to a boil then pour into a boil and let it cool until 110F. Stir in 2 T store-bought yogurt (Fage), cover with plastic wrap and leave in the oven with the light on. Six hours later…yogurt! This yogurt was very creamy with a pure milky sweet flavor. I let the yogurt drain to make Thick yogurt (Gaada dahi) p. 22 to use in other recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Haha BigSal the dairy gal! Does it taste like the Fage ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Similar, but the thick yogurt is denser (like Labneh) and has less tang.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Chicken summered in a pumpkin-lentil sauce with fenugreek (Murghi dhansaak), pages 140-141

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a fairly complicated dish, but I'd been wanting to cook a Parsi meal for a while so I gave it a shot, even though it's a Wednesday night!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You start by cooking some channa dal (thanks to this board I now know exactly what it is!) with cubed pumpkin, mint, cilantro, red onion, turmeric and water. I used a red kabocha squash, which seemed to mostly match the description of the Indian pumpkin Iyer provided.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  While that was bubbling away i poached some chicken thighs and set them aside. Then I set to work making the Sambhar masala.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Once the pumpkin/lentil mix is cooked you kind of mash it up a bit to break down the pumpkin. You fry some ginger and garlic pastes and a large amount of fenugreek leaves with ghee, and then add the masala, and a number of other spices (cardamom, madras curry powder, chile, coriander) quickly and then add that to the lentil and pumpkin mixture, along with the chicken pieces and diced tomato. Then just simmer a bit until to allow the flavors to blend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a really hearty, wintry dish and we ate it with basmati rice. I understand it is traditionally prepared with goat meat rather than chicken. I may try that next time. Though to be honest, with the lentils and the pumpkin it's substantial enough to be eaten without any meat at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pluralofcow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was very tempted to try this dish, too, but have yet to try methi/fenugreek. What kind of taste do the leaves impart on the dish? I know RI does not suggest a sub.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: blinknoodle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Methi (fenugreek) leaves have a pleasant herby, slightly bitter, taste. When cooked with spices etc the flavors balance well and you are not left with a marked bitter taste at all. It is much less bitter than bitter melon, with a different flavor profile. I highly recommend a trial, most people, even most children, happily eat methi in India.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rasam

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Having just tried methi myself for the first time I agree with Rasam's description. My husband is not really a fan of most greens (he HATES spinach and only tolerates chard, kale, etc.) but he loved the dish I made with methi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: blinknoodle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As Rasam says, the flavor is a bit bitter, herby, and maybe kind of smoky. It works nicely in this dish as the pumpkin/squash is sweet and the channa dal has some sweetness as well, then you have the heat of the ginger/garlic and the masala, it all blends nicely together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I didn't use the whole amount called for--as I just didn't have that much on hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I had never eaten fenugreek leaves until I started eating my lunches at a little Yemeni restaurant while working in Addis Ababa. Then I became a bit of a fenugreek addict!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pluralofcow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks guys. Now to find some method. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: blinknoodle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Silly autocorrect, should have been methi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I made both the sambhar masala and the pumpkin-lentil sauce with fenugreek (sans chicken). For the sambhar masala, I decreased the chiles but as everyone suggested, the fresh curry leaves were essentially dried out. I used 5 cups of kabocha squash, toor dal and one bunch of fresh methi. This definitely tasted like authentic Indian cooking! I can't put my finger on it but I think the cardamom was a bit too strong for me so this wasn't my favourite dal. Nice but too earthy for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Does anyone have suggestions on how to pick off the methi leaves quickly? Or can you use the stems like cilantro?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: blinknoodle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Making this today as well. I've made it before and today I decided to grind the cardamom seeds. I'm not fond of the intense zing of biting into a seed. As far as the leaves go, it looks like the whole plant is used in the frozen methi, no big stalks, but lots of small ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: blinknoodle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Stems are fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I had a methi fail today. (Not a 660 Curries recipe.) I usually use frozen which is just fine. But I got some good looking fresh methi and decided to make methi daal. I washed it and washed it multiple times. But after cooking it I can still taste the grittiness of dirt particles on it. :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: pluralofcow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I made this recently and it was well-liked. This was my first time cooking anything Parsi, and also working with black cardamom and fresh methi. The black cardamom has an intense smokiness that is very different from the green. I think the fresh methi flavor is very neutral, almost like cress or microgreens, but it adds some feel and color to an otherwise highly complex curry. One large bunch was just about the right amount. To save time, I had prepared in advance the sambhar masala and ginger and garlic pastes. Very unique heady aroma, and the doses of ghee certainly don't hurt!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Tart Chicken with Roasted Chiles, Tamarind and Coconut Milk (Puli Kozhi), pg. 135

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Made this along with Mrs. Joshi's Potatoes with a Fresh Coconut-Lime Sauce (Batata Bhajee), pg. 548 for dinner tonight. The recipe has you toast some yellow split peas, coriander seeds and dry red chiles in a little oil, then place in a blender with garlic, ginger, salt and coconut milk and whiz to a paste. Marinate the chicken in this from 30 mins to overnight (I went about 10 hours).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Fry a thinly sliced onion in some oil (use the leftover oil from toasting the spices), then add the chicken and brown on both sides. Add some more coconut milk and tamarind paste along with any leftover marinade and braise until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and add curry leaves and cilantro and simmer till thick, then serve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This turned out well but I had to make some substantial changes to get it there. I used boneless thighs, and I had 10 of them, so I may have stretched the marinade too thin, but I didn't have enough of it and used about a half a cup of water to rinse out the blender jar, which I added to the chicken. Then, when it came time to braise, I didn't have anywhere near enough liquid to braise the chicken and added probably another cup of water. The biggest problem, though, was the tamarind. The recipe called for a teaspoon of tamarind paste or concentrate; I used about two tablespoons of very seedy tamarind paste that I soaked in a couple of tablespoons of water to get the pulp off. When I tasted the sauce before serving, the tamarind flavor was totally absent, so I added a tablespoon of tamarind concentrate from a jar. That helped, but I still wouldn't call this dish "tart." It is pretty tasty, though - I'd definitely make it again, although I'd add more red chiles and again, lots more tamarind (maybe even some vinegar to punch up the tartness). I might also add another onion - the onion seemed to soak up the tamarind flavor and was actually the best part of the dish! Definitely worth making (might be good with shrimp, too).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Razia Syed's Chicken with an Almond Yogurt Sauce - p. 130

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We both loved the sauce on this chicken. It's thick with a fragrant hit of cardamom. I made a half recipe and cooked only thighs and drumsticks. This dish requires no pre-made spice blends other than the ginger and garlic pastes for the marinade.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            To make the chicken is mixed with yogurt, ginger paste, and garlic paste and left to tenderize for 1 hour - overnight. I went with about 6 hours. When you're ready to start cooking, oil is heated in a skillet and whole cloves, black peppercorn, green and black cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves are cooked. Onions are then added and cooked until light brown. The mixture is transferred to a blender and pureed with some water. Then almonds, salt, and cayenne are added to the mix and pureed to a paste. He calls for slivered blanched almonds, but I only had whole on hand so I used those. The chicken is then placed in the skillet and browned on each side. The onion spice paste is then added back to the skillet with a little bit of water. Reduce heat and cover to simmer until the chicken is cooked. The last step of the recipe instructs you to remove the whole spices if desired. I think this must be an error (or I've misread) as my spices were all pulverized in the blender. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I made this Murghi Korma from pg. 130 tonight as well. TxnInMtl describes the recipe perfectly, although I do think s/he misread because there is no instruction to remove whole spices at the end - they are indeed blended with the almonds and onions to form the sauce. That was actually the one beef I had with this dish - my blender is pretty powerful, but even so there were some crunchy chunks of spice left in the sauce that were a little overwhelming if you bit into them. My husband likened it to eating a scented candle, LOL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              However, despite the crunchy spices, I thought this was delicious and I would make it again happily. There is a lot of rich sauce, which was wonderful on a seasoned basmati rice dish I improvised (with onions, cumin seeds and curry leaves). I would probably grind the spices in a spice grinder before incorporating them into the dish next time, but otherwise, this is a keeper!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Greetings, hounds of chow. I was planning on making a few dishes that require the Sambhar Masala on page 33.....then I discovered that the masala itself contains an ingredient not in my larder: split yellow peas. Is there any way that I could substitute split ural dal or moong dal, or perhaps some other lentil in its place, without changing the flavour of the blend? I suppose I could crush and split some chickpeas in a mortar and pestle if absolutely necessary, but I'd really rather not go that route.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Many, many thanks for your wisdom!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Maybe toor dal could substitute. It's fragrant like split peas and is often in the sambhar dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: SplendidMonkey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Darn, I don't have that either. Alas, I'll wing it maybe with urad dal. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Herb-Stuffed Shrimp (Bharlele Kolumbi), p. 96

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you can get your hands on some jumbo shrimp (or prawns) and you like a ittle heat , make this dish! It is absofrigginglutely delicious. I wish I had doubled the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I started by making a lovely bright green paste (in sm FP) of coconut (in my case, 1/4 c dried, rehydated), 1/4 c cilantro, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 4 cloves garlic, fresh green chiles (imc, 2 serrano) and stuffing nine jumbo shrimp (RI calls for 8 "colossal" though they needn't be), which I peeled and deveined and slit deeply along the top, leaving the tails on (apologies to my DH, but they look so pretty with their tails intact).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Really you could cook the shrimp and stop here and not make the sauce. I tasted one pre-sauce, and it was fantastic on its own. I cooked these quickly in 2 T canola in a super hot skillet, a minute or so on each side; I did not bother with turning the shrimp on their backs as directed as I was afraid I'd lose the herb stuffing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But the sauce is equally delicious, and while it contains the same ingredients as the stuffing, the addition of peanuts and tomatoes turnit into something else completely, a lovely creamy complement to the spicy, herby shrimp. To make it, you dump into a small saucepan: coconut (1/4 c dried, rehyrdrated), 1/4 c dry roasted peanuts, 1/4 c cilantro, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt, 1 lg cored tomato 2 fresh geen chiles (I used serrano), and 1/2 c.water. Bring to boil, lower heat to medium, and cook until the mixture thickens (RI suggests 5 minutes; mine probably went for 10-12). Then you puree the mixture and "fold in" 1/2 tsp "coarsely pounded rock salt" (I have some extra coarse sea salt so I used that), and it's ready, pinkish from the tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Except for cooking the shrimp, this is a great do-ahead dish. I made everything the night before and refrigerated it, then warmed the sauce just before serving, as I cooked the shrimp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I served this, not as an appetizer (since we tend to eat apps standing around the kitchen I don't like saucy things requiring forks), but as a seafood component in a larger meal for guests--pakora, lamb stew w/spinach (p. 196), tart red lentils (p. 399), spiced white rice, raita, avocado-tomato salad, mango cheesecake (p. 751).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The sauce was delicious with the rice. And there was lot of sauce left. I could toss it with pasta as RI suggests, but I think I will get some more jumbos and make another batch of these tasty babies. This is definitely one of my favorites from 660 Curries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (I thought I had taken a photo, but it doesn't appear to be on my memory card.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think you just convinced me to overcome my aversion to cooking shrimp at home, NCW. Thank you for this great review.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I had this aversion! Just do it a very few times, it goes away, I don't even think twice about it now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, with the access you must have to fresh shrimp--please try cooking with it on my sad and desperate frozen-only land-locked behalf!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Allegra_K - you may be amused to hear that the good seafood shop had previously-frozen Mexican shrimp for sale. Nothing fresh in sight! I do hear quite a bit of hype every year when BC spot prawns are in season, but have never known what to do with them so I have never tried cooking them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What is (in sm FP) ?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You've convinced me this must be tried!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sorry--small food processor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        geekmom and blue room--I don't think you'll be disappointed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          n00b question here, but if I buy the jumbo shrimp today will they still be all right to eat tomorrow? There's a really good seafood shop near where I'm going to be this afternoon, and no place like that in my own neighbourhood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As long as they are fresh to begin with (or just defrosted, if from frozen). I've kept them up to two days in the fridge, but the woman who sells fresh seafood at the Farmers Market has told me that shrimp w/o heads are still fine up to five (!) days after they're caught.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oooh, I see you are in Vancouver. My aunt lives there; what a lovely place. Nice seafood too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thank you! I will give it a try soon, now that I know the shrimp can keep for a day or so. And yes, Vancouver is really quite a wonderful place to live, especially if you like seafood and sushi!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Cubed Chicken with Tomatoes and Fresh Coconut (Nariyal Chi Kombdi) page 151.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This was a very pleasant surprise, tasting very authentic. It just transported me to pre-college days, when one of my friends (whose parents hailed from the Kolhapur town in Maharashtra) had invited me for lunch. that chicken curry taste had lingered in my mind for all these years and all attempts of trying to recreate that dish from recipes available online, didnt come any closer than this recipe from 660.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To begin with - the major change in the recipe - i didnt have chicken pieces, but had 2lbs ground chicken & 1lb of ground turkey in the freezer, begging to be used up. After thawing the meat up, i added to it 1 egg, 1/2 lbs mashed boiled potato, salt to taste, 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp of the ground kolhapuri masala. mix them all up, make small meat balls and kept them ready to be used like the chicken as mentioned in the book.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To cook: oil is heated in my trusty CI DO, mustard seeds popped, garlic added. the meatballs added and sauteed to sear on all sides. tomatoes, cilantro, masala, salt & turmeric are added, the pot swirled (in lieu of stirring to avoid breaking of the meat balls) and the curry simmered for 8 - 10 minutes. Fresh (dryunsweetened - in my case) coconut is added, pot swirled again, simmered for a couple minutes. the curry rested for 1/2 hour and served with white bread to soak up the sauce, white rice and salad.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As RI writes, it is a vibrant red curry and wakens up all your senses. I added 4-5 kashmiri chiles in the kolhapuri masala to obtain the red color without adding too much heat to the dish. the meat balls were very moist and the masala rendered a very unique taste to them. the leftovers tasted very good the next day when served along with white rice and plain daal and home made yogurt. Very Good RI.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chowshok

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lovely review, chowshok! It sounds wonderful; I'll add it to 'The List'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Roasted Cashew Chicken with Fenugreek Sauce - Kaaju Methi Murghi (Page 124, 125)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        RI was not kidding when he describes the sauce as velvety smooth. its a rich tasting dish with subtle notes of of the spices balancing the perfumed bitterness of the methi leaves. I have made methi Chicken before, one of my favourite north Indian variety, but the roasted cashew elevate this dish to whole another level, without the need of adding butter/ghee to make it a "rich" dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        another plus point is its a quick dish, taking less than 30 minutes from start to finish. To Cook - onions, cashews, cumin seeds, cardamom (whole pods broken in my case - no worries as it gets ground to a paste) seeds, chiles and cinnamon gets sauteed in oil in my CI DO for 4-6 minutes, this mess is blended into a smooth puree. meanwhile 2 lbs chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces and marinaded for 1/2 hr in salt and turmeric is sauteed in the DO. the onion sauce added to the DO, salt added to taste and fenugreek leaves added, stirred and the curry is simmered till the chicken is cooked. This was served with a bowl of warm white rice. Simple Comfort food!! i know I can impress guests with this dish. Its so easy and so good. Plenty of leftovers. will have them for lunch tomorrow with Chapatis!! Very Good RI.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chowshok

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I made this one tonight based on Chowshok's review - it did not disappoint! The sauce has an incredibly silky, creamy mouthfeel due to the cashews. My market only had jalapenos today, so I subbed in a couple of what they call "long red chiles" and they were SPICY - way spicier than the green ones I usually purchase at the Indian market - but I love spice so that was no problem. I reduced the amount of clove just a bit and used whole cardamom pods, and doubled the sauce ingredients for about 2.5 lbs of boneless chicken thighs. Really delicious dish - one of my favorites from the book!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Glad you liked it too Biondanonima.. Can't wait to try it out again soon!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chowshok

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Me too. I need to get back to this book soon; this is one of the many recipes I marked that I haven't gotten too yet. I have frozen methi leaves, cashews, and chicken thighs in the freezer so no reason to wait much longer!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Hopefully I didn't miss a report on this amidst all these reports - I made the chicken curry with whole spices. I followed he recipe for the most part - used jarred chopped ginger( I know, I know but no good fresh to be found) and added the garam masala a little late because I'm retarded. Oh and I guess my tomatoes weren't exactly finely chopped. Anyway the dish - put some oil in the pan - add some whole spices - sauté a bit - add garlic and ginger - sauté a bit- add tomatoes - add chicken broth and cut up chicken - simmer covered for 10 - 15 mins til chicken done- remove lid add some cream simmer a bit longer and voila. I ended up simmering with he lid off for a while because it seemed a bit thin. Also I found it a little heavy with cinnamon and I might leave the whole sticks out altogether next time - there's a fair amount in garam masala you make to go in it. In fact I might reduce that as well next time - maybe my sticks were just denser than typical or something. Not sure if I'll make again with the tweaks or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Spinach Fritters in a Yogurt-Chile Sauce - p 57 (palak pakodi kadhi)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Finely chopped spinach mixed with a spiced chickpea flour batter is deep-fried in small spoonfuls, and served with a delicious, slightly spicy warm yogurt sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            These are very similar to pakoras, and extremely easy to make. I was looking for something relatively quick, gluten-free, and suitable for a potluck, and this fit the bill very well, although I was in too much of a rush on my way out the door to be able to take a photo of the finished product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I discovered that I needn't have made the sauce, because in spite of my putting a little sign next to the dish to instruct people to use the sauce with the fritters, it was barely touched. This is their loss, because it was SO delicious, and went extremely well with the flavours in the fritters, and now I have a big jug of yogurt-chile sauce to experiment with at lunch today. If you serve this as an appetizer for dinner guests, I would recommend that you simply pour the sauce over the hot fritters yourself before serving to your guests. They absorb the sauce a little bit but don't immediately get soggy. I should add, though, that my daughter couldn't eat the yogurt sauce and still thought the fritters were really yummy, so you could make this recipe even easier for yourself by just making the fritters on their own and serving with a tamarind sauce or a chutney.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Overall, a crowd-pleaser and far less time-consuming than many of the other dishes in this book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That's interesting that the recipe called for the sauce to be served on the side. Usually kadhi consists of pakodas simmered in the sauce for a few minutes, so they get a little soggy, and then served with rice or roti/chapati to accompany it. I love kadhi in cold weather -- we find it to be a great Indian comfort food. I was planning on making some this week so will have to check out this recipe...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: boogiebaby

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                RI actually recommends you pour the sauce over top of the fritters shortly before serving. Since it was a potluck and the food was going to sit around for a while, I thought the potluck attendees might be turned off by cold, soggy fritters so I left it on the side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Rajasthani Garam Masala, page 27.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Such an easy spice mix to put together, when you have all the ingredients in your pantry. takes less than 2 minutes (in my case the time needed to find the ingredients) to have a very aromatic, flavorful spice blend.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I used this mix for preparing the Awadhi Lamb recipe, and also used it for a lentil recipe, which is my own concoction.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Whole Milk Solids (Khoya), pg. 24. I made this tonight to go in the Makhani Dal recipe on pg. 364. Basically, you cook whole milk over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it reduces to about 1/4 its original volume and forms a ball in the bottom of the pan. The instructions say this will take about 30 mins for 2 cups of milk, but mine took closer to an hour, although I'm sure a shallower pan would have accelerated the process.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Anyway, this stuff tastes pretty good on its own (similar in a way to Gjetost cheese), but it elevated my lentils in a most amazing way. The flavor is very complex and nutty, and when it's dissolved in a sauce, it contributes a very rich, smooth, almost viscous mouthfeel. It's definitely worth the stirring!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Gosh Biodanomia, everything you've been cooking from this book lately sounds great. I'm really enjoying reading your posts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You're getting me re-interested in this book.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So many dishes, so little time!