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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Authentic Indian Lunch

My lunch today was a beautiful celebration in the mouth!  So many flavors came together to form a truly exquisite feast.  Cilantro, mint, curry, cardamom, coriander and cumin were all team players in this artistic cuisine experience.

My friend Sunita, invited me over to enjoy lunch and to show me how to cook real chicken curry.  I have to say, not many lunches i've had in my lifetime have been more inspiring or enjoyable than this one!

The first thing I learned from Sunita is that in any Indian kitchen you will find a spice box.  This holds whole spices that have not been processed at all.  For example, she grinds and toasts her own cumin and cardamom.  She makes her own tikka masala spice blend.  You should smell these flavors!  Oh yum!

Any great feast starts with a salad.  This elegant dish was crisp, sweet and savory.  Sunita doesn't go by a recipe, but here is the approximate method she used to bring together this party in a bowl.

1 Apple
1 Asian Pear
1 Cucumber
2-3 Radishes
1/2 cup Roasted Corn
1 Red or Orange Bell Pepper
Handful of Cilantro
1/2 cup Pine Nuts
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dice all fruits and vegetables and roast corn over medium-high heat until starting to brown.  Whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.  Toss all ingredients together in a decorative bowl with the vinegar mixture and serve.

We've probably all had cucumber sandwiches at one time or another.  I was really inspired by Sunita's version of this classic.  She makes them a little healthier by using mostly Greek yogurt with a small amount of cream cheese.  Her garnish of fresh basil and sesame seeds really take them to the next level of foodie-pleasing status!

(makes 4 sandwiches)
1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup Cream Cheese
handful fresh Dill (chopped)
1 Cucumber (peeled, seeded and diced)
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 slices Whole Wheat Bread
Sesame Seeds and Fresh Basil for garnish
In  a bowl, mix yogurt, cream cheese, dill, cucumber and salt and pepper together. A helpful hint here is to dry the cucumber as much as you can so that the juices don't make your filling too runny.  You can do this with paper towels and you dice it.  Cut the crust off of the bread and spread mixture evenly on the bread and form the sandwiches.  If you would like to make them fancy, cut each sandwich into four triangles.  Pour your sesame seeds onto a plate and simply dip the sides of each sandwich into them.  Place on a decorative plate and top with the basil.

After lunch, my friend taught me how to make true Chicken Curry.  Let me just tell you, it looks, smells and tastes amazing!

And here is a word and recipe from Sunita herself...
Food transcends all boundaries. It brings people together.  I want to thank Lauren for allowing me to share a cooking experience. I enjoyed creating a dish and spending time with her. Though I am not an expert cook, I love cooking with my family and friends.

Lauren and I cooked butter chicken. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients to marinate chicken:

Chicken breasts (3) (cut into small cubes)
Yogurt (thick and whisked) (1/2 cup)
Ginger paste (2 teaspoons)
Garlic paste (2 teaspoons)
Coriander powder (1 teaspoon)
Cumin powder (1 teaspoon)
Light olive oil (3 teaspoons)
Lemon juice (1 tablespoon)
Salt and pepper according to taste
Turmeric powder (1 teaspoon) (optional)

Marinate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight

Ingredients for gravy:

Onions (2) thinly chopped
Ginger garlic paste (2 teaspoons) 
Tomato puree (1 cup)
Cumin powder (1 teaspoon) (dry ingredient)
Coriander (1 teaspoon) (dry ingredient)
Cinnamon stick (1/2) (dry ingredient)
Red chilly powder (according to taste) (dry ingredient)
“Garam masala” or any Curry powder (1 tablespoon) (dry ingredient)
Butter (2 teaspoons)
Vegetable oil (2 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper according to taste
Fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
Water (1 cup)

Instructions for cooking:

Grill chicken or broil in oven (400 degrees for 15-20 minutes)
Heat the pan
Add butter and oil with cinnamon stick
Sautee onion till translucent, then add ginger garlic paste on medium heat
Cook for 2 minutes
Add tomato puree
Cook for 5-6 minutes with the lid on 
Add all dry ingredients, salt according to taste
Cook an additional 5-10 minutes
Add cream and cook for 5 minutes
Add previously cooked chicken
Pour water
Mix to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes
Turn off the stove
Garnish with cilantro

Serve and enjoy with rice or naan

Food is fun and inspiring because it bonds people together.  I love how cooking and eating with others leads to closer relationships.  Just spending time in someone's kitchen creates opportunities to tell life stories and find out what all you have in common with them.  I hope after reading this, you will be inspired to reach out to someone you would like to get to know better and invite them over to cook and eat with you.   Try one of my recipes and tell your friend about 1cookingchick!  Love to all! -1CC