Showing posts with label spices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spices. Show all posts

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Palak Paneer, Pulao, and Roti

Indian food. I love Indian food so much. In fact, being a vegetarian would be a lot easier if I were to just eat Indian food every day. However, sometimes I get in the mood for other types of foods, so...yeah. I'll eat more Indian food and just reduce my meat consumption instead ;). I think that's a fair compromise for now...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Resuscitated Dough for Cinnamon Rolls

So you're looking at the title of this post and are thinking "huh? what?" I hear ya. Let me explain...

These past few years I've made a lot of bread and yeast-based desserts on this blog so I am familiar with the usual signs of good/bad yeast growth, dough quality, etc. While living abroad, however, I have to relearn how to cook in a sense and get familiar with different ingredients and tools. I'm in Lisbon this time around, and I decided to make cinnamon rolls for my two friends who have graciously allowed me to stay with them for two months!
Happy, risen dough! You would never know that this dough had no life in it just a few hours ago. . .

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Carrabba's Bread Dip

Whenever my mother comes to visit, I know that there are two places she will want to visit: 1) Her favorite bubble tea place - Tapioca Express/House and 2) Carrabba's Italian Grill. I honestly believe she visits me just to go those two places and seeing me is just like a little perk on the side ;).

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chicken, Shrimp, & Chorizo Paella & A Giveaway!

Two years ago, my mother and I went to Madrid, Spain. Once there, I was tempted to try paella, but the presence of seafood prevented me from doing so. You see, the only types of unfried seafood I like are very small shrimp (like in fried rice), baked salmon, and tuna fish in a can. The only types of fried seafood I like are fish (like in fish and chips) and shrimp. That's it. I don't like crab, lobster, mussels, crawfish, or anything else that resembles how it looked when it was alive haha. I don't like slimy food either, so yeah, I had to stay away from the paella. I did, however, try to taste just the rice portion of the paella one day, but I had to quickly wash out my palate (not "palette!") because I could still taste the seafood or clam juice in the rice. From that day on, I had decided that the only way I would be able to have paella would be to make it myself, but at that time of my life, I wasn't a cook at all. So, I just gave up on that dream until a few days ago!

After corresponding with Sarah Jay (read how she started the company!), the founder of Paella Pans, which is a small, family-run business,  I received a pan imported from Valencia, Spain in only a matter of days. 
I found a recipe for Chicken Paella on her website and examined it anxiously every day as I waited for the pan. I almost had it memorized. My yellow-cake friend, Lydia, was with me when the pan arrived, and we were both impressed with how the pan looked and how big it was. I was beyond excited to try it out and felt like the luckiest person in the world.
A couple of days later, I made the yummiest paella I had ever had (out of two paellas total haha!). Lydia said that it looked incredible, and my neighbor said it looked like the real thing even without the big prawns and mussels, and they both used to live in Spain. 
The pan from various angles: I stuck the tag back on this pan so you could see from whence (hehe) this pan came.

So, first let me talk to you about this company and this pan that was graciously given to me for me for review. It is a 14" pan made of carbon steel, which is considered the most popular and most used in Spanish households. The company, also sells pans made with enameled steel, stainless steel (so shiny!), pata negra (literally means "black foot/paw (of an animal)"), and flat-bottom pans. Not only do they have pans on their site, but they also sell authentic ingredients for paella, such as bomba rice, chorizo, pimentón (with an accent on the "o"!) dulce or sweet paprika, and saffron or azafrán of various sizes. They also have recipes and tips on making a successful and authentic paella. Okay, enough links for now! I'm just really excited about this company, its products, and especially the founder. She is such a lovely lady with whom I've interacted via email for quite some time now.
The bottom of the pan and its handle: look at the bubbles or dimples at the bottom of the pan; they are there to promote even heating.

As an instructor of college-level Spanish, it is refreshing to see how her excitement for the Spanish language and culture encouraged her to start a business for importing paella-related products directly. Now, that's what I call ambition and drive. I hope some of my students get that excited about learning Spanish and various cultures different from their own.  

Anyway, back to the paella. Because I wanted to make this paella asap, I did not get to try out the ingredients on the Paella Pans  website, but I did use similar products. 

For instance, I used bomba rice that I obtained from Williams-Sonoma...
 That's the most classiest-looking rice container I've ever seen. 

I also used Spanish chorizo...

...pimentón dulce (purchased in bulk for only .39 cents!), and saffron. 
 You can see the packaging of the chorizo in the top right corner.

The chicken as pictured was not fully done, so I had to cook that some more when I returned home from my friend's house (I don't have a photo of that because it was devoured quickly by my neighbor and me for dinner). Lydia, her husband, and I gobbled up the shrimp and chorizo, though, while pushing the lemon slices aside haha. 

As Sarah writes in the recipe, don't pull out any plates for this dish; eat the paella directly from the pan itself. YUM! I want to make this again very soon. 
 ¡Buen provecho!

 After some serious damage, I still had plenty of leftovers. I still need to work on making the socarrat or the crusty, crispy layer formed under the rice, but look at that garlic!

I made only two additions to this recipe - the chorizo and shrimp. I cooked the deveined and peeled shrimp in a separate pan, but you could cook up all the meats together since the pan is so large or one at a time and then place them in a separate plate to rest. Don't cook the shrimp up too much because it will go back in the pan along with the rice later on. Just cook them until they turn a slight peach-looking color. Make sure the chicken is cooked pretty well, though. I had to cook the chicken for about 30 minutes, and that still wasn't long enough, so cook it longer than that. The chorizo is already dried and cured, so you don't need to cook it for very long. For the full recipe, go to the site

For your entertainment, I have some process photos below and a special announcement you don't want to miss!!

 Boil chicken broth; toast and crush saffron, and add to boiled broth.
Cook the peppers and garlic; cook the meats and veggies and set them aside; peel the covered, hot bell peppers
 Make the compote comprised of grated tomatoes and onions.
 Add the Spanish or short/medium-grained rice before adding the broth and the rest of the ingredients that have been set aside while keeping the whole garlic in the middle of the pan.

Okay, now for the exciting news! Paella Pans has graciously allowed me to sponsor a giveaway for one of their 14" carbon steel pans - just like the one I now have - to one of you all!! 
MINIMUM QUALIFICATION: Because this is a small company, this giveaway is open to residents of the contiguous United States only. 
TO ENTER THE PAELLA PAN GIVEAWAY: All you have to do is go to their site and tell me what you would like to either make or buy there if you could.  
DEADLINE: Monday, July 5th, 2010. ¡BUENA SUERTE! GOOD LUCK!


Friday, June 25, 2010

BBQ Chicken and Macaroni & Cheese

I was craving barbecue. I was sifting through one of my now favorite blogs, Deep South Dish. I found a recipe for BBQ chicken on it. I looked for a recipe for a copycat of my favorite BBQ sauce at my FAVORITE BBQ restaurant, Rudy's BBQ (the "sauSe"). I ran to the kitchen and made BBQ chicken, macaroni and cheese, and green beans. I took photos. I prayed for my meal. I ate the meal heartily. I thanked God again for the ability to make such a wonderful meal. The End.

I hope you make this meal soon. It would be even better on the grill, but if you don't feel like using it like me, then make it in the oven. Just be sure to line your jelly roll pan with foil for easy cleanup!

BBQ Chicken
adapted from Deep South Dish

Brine for a moist, flavorful chicken:
2 lbs drumsticks (about 6), with or without skin based on your preferences
2 Tbsp of kosher salt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Fill a large pot or container with enough water to cover the chicken well. Whisk the salt into the water until dissolved; whisk in the vinegar. Add the chicken, and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.

Dry Rub Marinade for added flavor, spice and a kick!:
2 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp freshly-cracked pepper
1 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp celery seed (didn't have)
2 tsp of Cajun seasoning, or to taste
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Remove the chicken from the brine, and drain well. Discard the brine. Pat the chicken pieces dry, laying out on a platter or baking sheet that will fit in the fridge. Combine the dry rub ingredients and rub the chicken well with the dry rub, cover loosely, and refrigerate one to several hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the rubbed chicken pieces on a rack on a foil-lined large baking sheet. Bake for approximately 45-60 minutes. [Use your tongs for this!] Turn the chicken over after 25-30 minutes. After 40-50 minutes, add the BBQ sauce on both sides with a brush or via a squeeze bottle. If you're a sauce lover like me, add more sauce once they are done.

For instructions on how to grill the chicken, go to the source.

Copycat Recipe of Rudy's BBQ Sause (with an "s")

from Beth's Favorite Recipes who adapted it from Chaos in the Kitchen

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Simmer until slightly reduced.Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Quick Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

1/2 lb macaroni shells
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp regular flour
2 cups WARM milk
2 tsp mustard or dry mustard
kosher salt to taste
pepper to taste
1-2 cups of cheese that melts, to taste (I used regular American cheese because that was all I had)

Cook pasta according to instructions (al dente). Make a roux by melting the butter in a separate saucepan and then adding the flour. Cook the roux for about 3 minutes, and stir frequently. Add the WARM milk 1/4 of a cup at a time at the beginning. Stir between each addition. Once you can no longer see the bottoom of the saucepan, add more milk in generous portions until you use it all. Add the mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir in the cheese until it tastes cheesy enough for your tastes. Turn off the heat.

Immediately, add in the al dente pasta, and then stir well. Once pasta is well-coated, you're done.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Black-Peppered Egg Noodles

Click on the above photo and enlarge it to see this beautiful pasta closely.

On our way back from the berry farm, my mother and I stopped at one of our favorite places - Barnes & Noble Booksellers. If you're not familiar with this place, it is essentially a big bookstore with a café serving Starbucks coffee.

Of course, I quickly sashayed (yeah, I don't sashay) to the cookbook section and picked up a bunch of stuff. The cookbook I spent the most time on was Mario Batali's Molto Italiano cookbook. I copied down many recipes to use for later, and my head continued to think about those recipes hours after I had left the bookstore.

The recipe I thought the most about was for these black-peppered egg noodles. It was mentioned nonchalantly as a variation of the regular egg noodles, but it appealed to me so much that I could not wait to pull out my pasta maker to make them.
Speaking of my pasta maker, I have a question for you: If you received a $100 Amazon card from your Chase Visa Rewards, what would you buy? Well, I used it for a Kitchen Aid Pasta Roller and Cutter Set that was on sell for 115.95 and paid only 15.95 out of pocket, and I don't regret the decision. Although I don't use the roller & cutter set much, I know I never would have been able to buy this coveted item (at least by me) on my own.
Anyway, these noodles were fantastic, flavorful, and oh so fragrant (oooh alliteration)! They looked so ugly at first that I thought I had wasted 5 eggs (I'm stingy with my eggs.). The dough was much rougher than regular pasta dough b/c of the black pepper. However, on a positive note, the black pepper prevented the dough from sticking together as much as the plain variety.
This ugly duckling became a beautiful swan!

If you have a similar pasta roller/cutter, I suggest working in small batches. I first divided the dough into four balls, but had to later divide those balls into two more smaller balls for a total of 8. This was way too much for one person, but I have dried out the noodles and plan to eat more as the week progresses.

Don't be deterred by how the noodles look and feel at the beginning; you will be rewarded in the end. They become lovely noodles after you boil them for merely 2-3 minutes. Stay tuned for what else I did with these noodles. You didn't think I just ate the noodles by themselves, did you?

Black-Peppered Egg Noodles

3 1/2 cups Tipo '00 or AP Flour
5 large eggs, room temperature
2 Tbsp black pepper (I used the powdery, cheap variety)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika (optional; I added this because of what I prepared with it)
1-2 Tbsp olive oil, based on desired consistency

Place the flour in a large bowl or atop a flat, wooden surface and make a well in the middle for the other ingredients. Next, add in the eggs, black pepper, salt, and paprika (if using).
With your hands or a fork, mix the ingredients together until you form a ball of dough (I would suggest using a stand mixer for this because the dough was somewhat coarse and hard to put together in a ball. Don't mix it too much, though). Add the olive oil as it mixes.
Keep on trucking. This ugly, questionable, brain-looking dough ball will form pretty noodles in the end; I promise!
Once you form the ball of dough, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before using. Next, separate the dough ball into 8 smaller balls. Flatten the balls of dough and put them through the pasta maker according to the instructions for your machine (I went up to the penultimate or next-to-last notch on the roller). Flour each layer so that the dough layers won't stick.
[From left to right: 1) dough balls that I had to divide into two again. 2) flattened dough ball that was still too big to fit into the pasta roller. 3) The layer of dough after going through the first notch on the roller. 4) the final product up to notch 7 with flour on top.]
Cut the flattened layers of dough into fettuccine noodles, or use the fettuccine cutter attachment. Make sure you sprinkle flour on the noodles so that they won't stick to each other.
Freshly-cut, floured, uncooked noodles that turned out much prettier than I'd expected.

**If making the noodles immediately, prepared boiled water with a bit more olive oil and kosher salt. Add the noodles, and cook them for 2-3 minutes.

***If using the noodles later, lay them out on a flat surface and allow them to dry out for a few hours. Store the dried noodles in a closed container for 2-3 days in the refrigerator and up to 3 months in the freezer. More info here. You're welcome :).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Daring Cooks: Stacked Enchiladas and Giveaway Winner

¡Hola! from the land of Daring Cooks. Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce, was found on and written by Robb Walsh.

Yes, I'm a Daring Cook. Yes, I'm late. Yes, I've been a Daring Cook for a long time without posting anything. Shame on me. I saw this dish, though and knew I had to make it. It didn't come out as pretty as I'd like, but the enchilada sauce was amazing. Click here for more!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shredded Beef Tacos

I cannot believe I forgot to blog about this dish! Remember when I made the adobo sauce many moons ago?! Well, there was a purpose for that sauce, and I was supposed to share with you all this dish I'm posting today.

What a bad food blogger I am!! I must have been distracted by something sweet or something because this dish was fantastic. Along with this flavorful beef, I made arroz mexicano (yes, I used the same recipe. I guess I used more red tomatoes the first time and tomatillos/regular tomatoes this time. I don't remember.) and tortillas de harina or flour tortillas.
The good thing about the beef is that you make it in the crockpot. You could also make the tortillas the day before by rolling them out, placing the uncooked, flattened discs of dough between wax paper, place them all in a freezer bag, and keep them in the refrigerator (or freezer for a longer amount of storage). The next day, you take them out and cook them on a comal, cast-iron skillet, or some very hot oven-top surface.
The arroz can be made ahead of time, too, but it tastes better when it is first made. I grated monterey jack and lots of cheddar cheese. I also used a bunch of jalapeños. These jalapeños weren't very spicy, so I could handle a bunch of them for added flavor and zing.

I apologize for holding out on this amazing dish. It was truly perfect. I wish I could make some more right now, but I haven't been in the kitchen much these days. I think I've lost my mojo for now. I hope to get back in the kitchen very soon.

Shredded Beef Tacos
adapted from Gimme Some Oven and Baking Addiction

1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds beef (boneless chuck roast)
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 cup beef stock or broth
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (homemade version here!)
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Flour tortillas, homemade or store-bought

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine the chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika in a small bowl.

Rub the spice mix into the beef, covering each side evenly. Once the oil is hot (it will shimmer a bit in the skillet), place the beef in the skillet and sear on each side. Do NOT MOVE the meat while it cooks for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Remove the beef from the skillet, and place in the bottom of a slow cooker. Leave the pan on the heat, and add in the beef stock to deglaze, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste and minced chipotle or adobo sauce, and whisk into the pan sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.

Add the diced onion and minced garlic on top of the seared beef in the slow cooker. Pour the pan sauce down over the onions, garlic, and beef. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Remove the beef from the slow cooker, and shred with two forks. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions from the slow cooker, and mix into the shredded beef.

Serve the beef in the flour tortillas, topped with your favorite taco toppings, such as fresh salsa like pico de gallo, frijoles refritos, arroz mexicano, etc.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jerk Chicken with Rice and "Peas"

When I make international dishes, I try to be as authentic and traditional as I can possibly be as I was with the Murgh Makhani, Tamales, and Lasagne al Ragù. However, there are times when I work so hard one part of a recipe, that some component of the side dish fails a bit in authenticity. Such is the case with this Jerk Chicken with Rice and "Peas".

The first time I ever tried Jerk Chicken was in New York City (is that right, mom?) a few years ago when my mom was attending NYU for her grad degree. We went to a small Jamaican restaurant in the outskirts of the major city. I had heard of the dish before but had never tried it before. After my first bite, I fell in love instantly and never forgot about that experience.
Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to eat the dish again until I made it a few days ago. So, this is my second time tasting this flavorful, spicy chicken dish that originated in Jamaica. Once the marinade is mixed together, everything else is very easy. So, the key to Jerk Chicken is the marinade. It is comprised of many ingredients that vary from recipe to recipe. However, the universal ingredients are Scotch Bonnet or Habañero (don't forget the "ñ"! Without it, the pronunciation changes) peppers and pimiento or allspice berries.

I did research on Youtube and did a regular search as I always do when I look for an authentic recipe, if I don't have a traditional cookbook. I looked for Jamaicans preparing the meal to see how they did it and then compared their methods with others found online and other sources. I finally settled on a recipe from a website called Jamaica Travel and Culture.
Okay, here is how I broke the code of authenticity: First, I grilled the chicken in the oven instead of on the grill. Second, I didn't play reggae as I cooked :). Third, for the rice and "peas" (the recipe calls for "red peas", which are really kidney beans), I used black beans instead of kidney beans because I didn't have the latter. Fourth, I did add in coconut milk. I just couldn't. I already don't like coconut very much, so I just couldn't pour 1/2 cup of the stuff in my rice and beans. I just couldn't....and I didn't. Lastly, I didn't have 1/2 cup worth of soy sauce, so I used what I had.
Nevertheless, everything tasted really good. The chicken was still too spicy even though I used only half of the marinade. I reserved some of the marinade, and used it as a sauce. If you use all of your marinade in with the chicken, be sure to boil the sauce before using it. I just kept some of the marinade separate from the raw chicken. The rice and peas dish was really flavorful and helped cool the tongue down from the spicy chicken. Okay, I'll shut up now and give you all the recipe. Please visit the cook's website to see process photos or watch the video of her in action.
GIVEAWAY REMINDER: If you haven't already, don't forget to enter in my giveaway! The deadline is at midnight! If the number of questions is deterring you from entering, just tell me which cookbook you would like in order to qualify.

Jerk Chicken
halved & adapted from Jamaica Culture and Travel (full version)

One 3 1/2 lb chicken (3lb of chicken breasts may be used if preferred)
6 sliced scotch bonnet peppers (I used 2 habañeros in my halved version, & it was still hot.)
2 Tbsp. thyme (I used a few sprigs of fresh thyme, roughly chopped)
2 Tbsp. ground allspice (I crushed allspice berries in a mortar and pestle)
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I used 1 Tbsp of leftover ginger/garlic paste)
3 medium onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 to 2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 tsp nutmeg
1-2 tsp ginger (I used 1 Tbsp of leftover ginger/garlic paste)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
Juice of one lime
1 cup orange juice (I used 2-3 fresh oranges)
1 cup white vinegar

Chop the onions, garlic and peppers. These do not need to be chopped too fine as they will be liquidized by the blender or food processor. Blend all of the ingredients (excluding the chicken) in a blender to make the jerk sauce.
The marinade added to the raw chicken.

Cut the chicken up in to 4 pieces. Rub the sauce in to the meat, saving some for basting and dipping later (I made slits in the chicken like I did with the murgh makhani). Leave the chicken in the fridge to marinade overnight up to 2 days.

OVEN: Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, turn the meat then bake for a further 30 minutes. OR Slow cook the meat at 212 degrees (100 degrees C) for 45-60 minutes per side.

GRILL: Grill the meat slowly until cooked, turning regularly. Baste with some of the remaining marinade while cooking. For best results, cook over a charcoal barbecue (ideally over a rack of pimento wood).

Chop each quarter chicken portion in to 5 or 6 smaller pieces using a heavy cleaver. Use a wooden spoon (or something similar) to hold the chicken in place whilst chopping and NOT YOUR HAND (you will be chopping with enough pressure to cut through bone!!!). (This step is not necessary if you're using chicken parts or drumsticks, like I did). While chicken is baking, make the rice and peas.

Rice and Peas
adapted from Jamaica Culture and Travel

3 cups of rice (I used regular, long grain rice; however, I assume you could use brown rice)
1 can of tinned or 1 cup of fresh red peas (use kidney beans or pigeon peas; I used black beans)
5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 uncut scotch bonnet pepper (1 habañero or jalapeño pepper. I didn't have any more peppers)
3 Scallion (spring onions may be used as a substitute)
1 tin (or one cup) of coconut milk (if you dare! hahaha)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (2 teaspoons of dried thyme may be used as a substitute)

FRESH PEAS/BEANS: If you are using fresh peas or beans, then wash them. Pour on three cups of water and leave to soak overnight.

CANNED PEAS/BEANS: Skip this step.

Crush the garlic and add to seven cups of boiling water. If you are using FRESH peas add them now and boil for 45 minutes. Test to see if the peas are cooked by crushing a few of them. If they crush easily, you are ready to move on to the next step.

Add your CANNED beans (if using), coconut milk, rice, salt, black pepper and thyme to the mix. Crush the scallion (do not chop), and add to mixture. Also add the UNCUT scotch bonnet pepper, to give it a subtle peppery flavor.

The rice and peas should be ready after about 40 minutes (exact cooking time will depend on the brand of rice used).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tandoori Murgh Makhani

The green garnish on top of the dishes isn't green hair; they're dried kasoori methi or fenugreek leaves (see next photo).

Raghavan Iyer, the author of 660 Curries, translates this dish from "Murgh Makhani" to "Grilled Cornish Game Hens with a Tomato-Fenugreek Sauce", but I think it is also Butter Chicken, which is Murgh ('chicken') Makhani ('with butter'). He suggests using Cornish hens instead of chicken because they more closely resemble the size and flavor of the chicken in India. I, unfortunately, went to the only grocery store without Cornish hens, so I bought a package of thigh and drumstick pieces. You could also use packages of leg pieces (thigh and drumstick together). He suggests cutting up the chicken AFTER grilling it to hold in the juices and flavors.
First photo: Dried kasoori methi or fenugreek leaves: a vital ingredient for this dish. It has a strong fragrance you can smell before even opening the box! Second photo: dried leaves soaking in water for 15 minutes.

This chicken dish was worth all of the work. It really was. I ate a few forkfuls and am letting it cool as I type this post. I have learned that this dish is also worth burning your tongue various times haha.
I apologize for the dark photos. I started working on this dish late and the sun was close to setting.

I opted to grill the chicken instead of baking it just to practice my grilling skills, which are um below average. For some reason, I cannot get my charcoal hot enough. So, what did I do? I turned to Youtube for help on how to properly fire up a charcoal grill, and it worked (almost) perfectly. I managed to get the charcoal hot enough to cook three out of five of the chicken pieces. Two of them were 95% cooked (I don't know how I figure out these percentages. Just bear with me.).
TASTE: The marinade on the chicken was very fragrant because of the balti masala and other ingredients. It smelled divine and very new to me. I ate a piece of the chicken before adding the sauce, and it was incredible. It was so great, that I was hesitant to add the sauce to all of the chicken just in case I didn't like the sauce. Fortunately, both the sauce and chicken complement each other perfectly. The sauce smells of tomato, butter, and spices. I can't describe the taste very well. It is a comforting dish, and as I stated already, it was totally worth all of the work. I think I'm going to have to make more sauce because it yielded enough only to coat the chicken.
Lastly, I was so focused on making this dish that I forgot about the side dishes like rice, vegetables, and naan. I wanted to make naan but ran out of time. I quickly put together some turmeric rice (forgot to add peas) before the sun completely went down for photos. If I make naan or some other type of Indian bread tomorrow, I will post it then (I've blogged about naan before, but I want to try another recipe for fluffier bread) to go along with yummy leftovers of this chicken dish.
Now that I have prepared balti masala and ginger-garlic paste, I can throw this together much more quickly in the near future. I really hope you make this dish. Just break down the process. Make the paste, balti masala, and marinade the chicken on one day, and grill or bake the chicken the next day. Don't forget to make rice and naan!

Tandoori Murgh Makhani
adapted from 660 Curries

2 Cornish game hens (about 1 1/2 lbs. each), skin removed, cut in half lengthwise (I used chicken thighs and legs)
1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt for its thicker nature)
1 1/2 Tbsp ginger/garlic paste
2 tsp Balti masala
2 tsp ground Kashmiri chiles; or 1/2/ tsp cayenne (ground red pepper) mixed with 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 1/4 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt
Vegetable cooking spray (I never used this)
2 Tbsp Ghee or butter (I bought ghee from the Indian store b/c it was there, but it's not hard to make)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen kasoori methi or fenugreek leaves (thawed, if frozen); or 2 Tbsp dried fenugreek leaves, soaked in a bowl of water for 15 mins and skimmed off before use
1/2 tsp cayenne (ground red pepper)
1/2 cup half-and-half

Using a sharp knife, make four slits in each hen or chicken pieces: two into the breast meat, one in the outer thigh meat, and one in the inner thigh meat. Place the hens or chickens in a biaking dish, meat side up.
Left to right: fatty chicken (1); marinade (2); marinade brushed on chicken (3); covered for overnight refrigeration (4)

Combine the yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, balti masala, Kashmiri chiles, and salt in a small bowl, and whisk to blend. Smear the hen or chicken halves with this orange-red marinade, making sure to stuff some of it into the slits. Refrigerate, covered for at least 1 hour or as long as overnigh, to allow the flavors to permeate the meat.

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high, or preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

GRILL: spray the grill grate with cooking spray (I forgot to do this, and it worked out fine). Place the hens or chicken pieces, meat side down, on the grate. (Optional: Reserve any marinade for basting the meat.) Cover, and grill the meat, basting them occasionally with the remaining marinade and turning them over halfway through, until the meat in the thickest parts is no longer pink inside and the juices run clear, 30 to 40 minutes (or 60 minutes for the bigger pieces of meat, if you heat up your grill incorrectly like me hehe). Transfer the meat to a serving platter, and cover them with foil to keep them warm while you quickly make the sauce. (I SUGGEST MAKING THE SAUCE TOWARD THE END OF THE GRILLING TIME INSTEAD OF AFTER)

OVEN: Place a rack in a roasting pan, and spray it with cooking spray. Place the hens or chicken pieces, meat side down, on the rack. (Reserve any marinade for basting the meat) Roast, basting them occasionally with the remaining marinade and turning them over halfway through, until the meat in the thickest parts is no longer pink inside, and the juices run clear, about 45 minutes. Transfer the meat to a serving platter, and cover them with foil to keep them warm while you quickly make the sauce.
Left to right: chicken on the grill (1); sauce before simmer (2); sauce after simmer (3); sauce + half-n-half (4)

SAUCE: To make the sauce, heat the ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the tomato sauce, fenugreek, and cayenne. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to meld, 5 to 10 minutes. Then stir in the half-and-half, and continue to simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to let it warm, 2 to 4 minutes.

To serve the curry, cut the meat into smaller pieces, and toss them with the sauce. (Cut the meat better than I did hah!).

Turmeric Rice
adapted from the back of the Basmati Rice bag and Pastor Ryan
double this recipe if feeding more than two mouths

1 3/4 cups water
1 cup Basmati rice
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp turmeric
1-2 cups frozen peas (forgot to use)

Frozen peas
Dried kasoori methi/fenugreek leaves (I used this)
Chile peppers

Boil water with salt. Add rice, butter, and turmeric, and cover. Turn heat to med-low, and cook for 20 minutes. Add the frozen peas into the cooked rice; give them a stir. Allow the heat of the rice to cook the peas.