Sunday, March 18, 2007

Indian Food

When I was a teenager in Boise, a doctor from India lived with our family for a few months while waiting for his wife and children to join him in the States. After his wife arrived and they were settled into their new home, they invited us over for dinner. I believe that was the first time I tasted Indian food, and it was love at first bite. At the time, there were no Indian restaurants in Boise, so when I started college in Provo a few years later, and we discovered the Bombay House on North University, we were delighted. We developed a family tradition of eating lunch there every time my parents came to town. Imagine my delight when Dan and I arrived in Ann Arbor and discovered not one but four Indian restaurants to choose from. Ann Arbor also provided me with the first recipe I've ever made at home that actually tastes like "real" Indian food. When I started my Master's degree in Southeast Asian studies, I received in my welcome packet a free copy of a previous student's masters thesis: Beyond Curry: Quick and Easy Indian Cooking Featuring Cuisine from Maharashtra State by Hemalata C. Dandekar. Here is the recipe from her book that I love:

Basic Chicken Curry

3 dried red chilies, broken in half (I use red pepper flakes)
5 black peppercorns
5 whole cloves
1/4 inch cinnamon stick or 1/4 t cinnamon powder
1 T shredded, unsweetened coconut (optional)
1 T cumin seeds, or 1 1/4 t cumin powder
1 T coriander seeds, or 1 T coriander powder
1# tomatoes (fresh or stewed)
5 cloves garlic
1 inch piece fresh ginger root, coarsely chopped
1/2 c onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 T oil
1 bay leaf
3# chicken
1 T salt

In a small pan, dry heat red chilies, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, coconut, cumin, and coriander over medium to high heat, stirring constantly. The heat helps dry the spices, making them easy to blend and drawing out the flavors. In a blender, puree spices, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger until they form a homogeneous liquid. Heat oil in a 4-quart heavy pot. Add the bay leaf and chopped onions, and lightly fry until the onions are a crisp golden yellow tinged with brown. Constant stirring is necessary to prevent burning. Blot moisture from the chicken with a paper towel. Add chicken to the pot. Stir until the pieces are browned, then add the tomato and spice mixture, stirring and coating the chicken with it. Clean the blender container with 1 c water and add this along with the salt. Bring to a boil on high heat. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Serve hot, with rice.


kendahl said...

i LOVE chicken curry, and will have to try this out. we've always used those curry spice blocks from the grocery store. but i think that's more of a japanese style curry. thanks for the recipe, especially since it's tried and true. i'll let you know how it goes :)

The Hansens said...

I love, love, love curry and can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks for the idea!

Janie said...

I love indian food too. Ann Arbor has some great choices. I am hoping to try this recipe although the simmer for 1 1/2 hours sounds a little much. Maybe I should try it at your house sometime :)

ronin1516 said...

I am Indian, and I think Prof Dandekar i s doing this recipe wrong!!!! I will discuss this with Andrea and she can post my version.

BTW, none of the indian restaurants in A2 are anygood, and particularly avoid Madras masal on maynard Street, they are probably the worst!!!

Check out cookbooks that AADL by either Madhur Jaffrey for North indian food,and Meera Kaimal for South indian dishes.

Jess said...

This sounds great. I love new foods but I know my boys won't eat it so want to get together some time and make Indian food? We could make it a girls night at my house and invite Janie.:)