Wednesday, August 4, 2010

De-mystifying Indian Food

Thanks to Z., I recently discovered the Cooking Channel on TV.  I watch / record Food Network a lot for cooking inspiration, but I've been tiring of it a bit recently.  While I really like Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) and Giada in particular, I've been craving some more variety.  Some of the Food Network personalities are a little too perfect, overly styled and / or slightly psycho for me: Claire Robinson, Marcela Vallalolid, Sandra Lee, Anne Burrell, plus they have a bunch of non-cooking shows which I don't really like: Chopped, Food Network Challenge, Ace of Cakes.  Maybe it's because it's not in high definition or perhaps because many of the shows are older, but I find the Cooking Channel to be a lot more accessible, with a real focus on the food.  I like the ethnic variety as well; I've been watching a lot of the Spice Goddess, which has helped de-mystify Indian cooking.  I also really like being able to watch some older episodes from real chefs like Mario Batali and Jamie Oliver.  Plus, since it is not in high definition, I'm able to record a lot more shows without filling up my DVR.
I tried my hand at Indian cooking for the first time yesterday, following the Spice Goddess' recipe for "No-Butter Chicken."  Since this was my first time cooking Indian and using a lot of the spices, I followed her recipe exactly, which can be found here.  I liked that the recipe seemed relatively light, without any butter and cream, only non-fat Fage greek yogurt for some tang and creaminess.  I was able to find all the spices that I didn't have, including cumin seeds, turmeric and garam masala (a mix of cloves, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamon, coriander) at Whole Foods.  I served the chicken over white rice, with a side of arugula topped with my recent Trader Joe's discovery, dressed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. 
The chicken was really spicy with lots of interesting and unusual flavors (to me at least) and I liked the consistency that the yogurt added.  I found the dish a little too cinnamon-y, not sure if its because Whole Food's garam masala is particularly heavy on the cinnamon, or if that's just how garam masala tastes and I just wasn't used to the flavors.  In the future, I might also add some more fresh vegetables, maybe some peppers, tomatoes or spinach.  It was a fun experiment and really quick to prepare (less than 30 minutes including prep time) so I'll be trying some more of her recipes in the future, especially now that I have the spices in my cabinet.

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