This week was the first time since I started this series that I noticeably stretched myself in the cooking department. I made two recipes from the Best-Ever Curry Cookbook and it literally took me over two hours to get everything together. Not that the recipes were crazy difficult or anything like that; I just think I am sort of the anti-Rachel Ray in that I can take the simplest recipe and futz around with it until the time and energy I’ve used could have powered a good cook *cough*Mindy*cough* through preparing a lavish banquet.
But at least after my hours spent in the kitchen I ended up with some tasty food. I made Chicken Saag and Courgettes (zucchini) in Spiced Tomato Sauce.
Chicken Saag is one of my favorite Indian dishes. In particular I love how they make it at this local place. This recipe wasn’t exactly the same but it tasted pretty similar and was really good. I’m definitely want to cook it again.
The only problem with the recipe was that it has you adding one or two ingredients at a time and then simmering for 5 minutes, then repeating over and over. I kept getting lost as I was cooking so I’ve simplified it a bit here.
Chicken Saag from Best-Ever Curry Cookbook by Mridula Baljekar
- 8 oz fresh spinach leaves, washed
- 1 inch piece ginger root
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 fresh green chili, roughly chopped
- 1 scant cup of water
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 t black peppercorns
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 tomatoes skinned and finely chopped (I forgot to buy some so I used canned *gasp!*)
- 2 t curry powder
- 1 t salt
- 1 t chili powder
- 3 T plain yogurt plus extra to serve
- 8 chicken thighs, skinned
- Cook the spinach, without water, in a tightly covered pan for 5 minutes (on medium-low heat). Put the spinach, ginger, garlic, and chili pepper with 1/4 c of water into a food processor and puree.
- Heat the oil in a large pan, add the bay leaves, pepper corns, and chopped onion and saute, stirring, until the onion is translucent.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, curry powder, salt, and chili powder to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the spinach puree and the remaining water (3/4 c) to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the yogurt, about 1 T at a time and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust spices as needed.
- Add the chicken. Cover and cook (on low) for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
- Serve with warm naan (I used whole wheat pita because I had it on hand), drizzled with plain yogurt and dust lightly with the chili powder.
4 out of 5 stars. This rating is conditional on you being able to pick it up in the bargain section of a bookstore for about $5 like I did. For that price this book is a great deal. It provides a solid grounding in Indian food complete with lots of background information. And each recipe includes multiple photos showing some of the steps involved and the finished dish. The only faults I found are that the directions can be kind of vague (as in not specifying what level of heat you should use) and at times not very clearly written (I found myself rereading the list of directions several times because I kept getting lost). But both of those issues were probably exacerbated by my own inexperience in the kitchen. This book give you a window into authentic Indian cuisine for a great price.