panelarrow

Link to recipe: https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/south-indian-style-vegetable-curry

Southern Indian Curry

For the meal I have prepared, I have made a Southern Indian styled vegetable curry. The curry is completely vegan, made with a blend of various vegetables, including sweet potato, ginger, garlic, carrots, peas, onion, and cauliflower. The aroma of the curry is very tangy and spicy, due to the cumin, turmeric, coriander, and cinnamon. The base is made with a chicken broth combined with tomato paste and coconut milk. Often served with brown rice, this curry alone can make an incredibly healthy and delightful meal. The term curry comes from the Tamil word kari, which means “sauce” or “relish.” Curry has originally been served with rice, as a topping for a base. The curry that I have made has specifically originated from southern India in the region of Tamil. Tamil uses a combination of specific spices, including cayenne pepper, cumin, cinnamon, and coconut. Making curry has historically been a low budget way to make bland foods such as bread, rice, and vegetables have more enjoyable flavor. Curry’s wonderful blend of spices has been around for thousands of years and is one of the staple meals of the entire Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia. The spices involved in producing curry has been one of the motivations for vast trade with the subcontinent. The spices found in India were a delicacy in France, Great Britain, Portugal, and the Netherlands during the age of colonization. 

Specifically in my dish,  Turmeric is a key ingredient. Turmeric is known in Vedic culture as the “golden spice” due to its very bright and golden color. The spice originates back as far as 2500 BCE, and has been used for thousands of years medicinally as well as culinarily. Turmeric has been used as an effective anti-inflammatory treatment that’s said to rival ibuprofen. The vitamins found in this spice have been thought to have cancer-fighting attributes, reducing the risk that one has for colon and heart cancer. Turmeric is also used to reduce cholesterol and treat heart disease. Furthermore, Turmeric, for centuries, has been used to dye various cloths and clothings. The vibrant organ color that gives my curry its color has been used to dye religious clothing. Saffron-hued Buddhist robes are dyed using Turmeric, giving the robes a beautiful orange and gold complexion. The dye has also been thought of as sacred and auspicious in Hindu culture. In Hindu marriages, Turmeric is attached to necklaces worn by the bride and husband and symbolizes a stable household in the Hindu religion. Similarly, Turmeric jewelry is worn as a defense against evil spirits in the Hindu religion. 

Turmeric is a wonderful spice that is found in many dishes today and has given my Tamil-inspired curry a wonderful, tangy flavor. It is a spice that has been used for centuries, medicinally, culinarily, and decoratively. It is a delicacy in almost every culture that it finds, and will continue to hold the same hype that its been given.

 

 

June 29, 2020
by 47662411
0 comments

Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Link to recipe: http://maunikagowardhan.co.uk/cook-in-a-curry/tandoori-chicken-tikka-barbecue-chicken-cooked-in-a-chilli-garlic-marinade/

For my food project, I choose the dish Tandoori Chicken Tikka. I had never attempted an Indian recipe before, mainly because of the number of spices required. After researching many dishes, this recipe was something I thought both of my parents would love as well. 

The process was relatively simple. I began by fixing my marinade for the chicken, that way I could let it sit for a few hours before I would grill the chicken. The first step was the wet paste, I combined garlic, green chile, and ginger powder. In a separate bowl, I went ahead and combined greek yogurt with buckwheat flour. The recipe did ask for gram flour but I had to substitute with another flour. I then thoroughly mixed my wet paste with my yogurt flour mixture. Next was adding all of the spices to my mixture. I added paprika, chili powder, garam masala, and coriander powder. Then added a dash of cinnamon, salt, and pepper. After about 15 minutes my marinade was done. I then chopped around one pound of chicken breasts into one inch pieces, added it all in a plastic bag then shook it up. After letting it soak in the fridge to let the spices infuse with the chicken I was ready to grill. My mom is a master at grilling food so thank you for her assistance in this part of the process. Soon enough, the chicken was on the skewers and ready to eat. Along with the chicken, I fixed some jasmine rice, hummus, and a small side salad. The meal was a hit to my mom and dad and they love Indian food so they were impressed. 

The history of this dish is very interesting. Tandoori chicken, a dish that originated from Punjab before the independence partition of India. The small bite-size pieces of chicken were known as tikka. History would say that Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty,  was picky when eating chicken and that in order for there to be no bones in his food, he would request it to be cut into the small pieces. Of all places, this specific dish, for the inclusion of tikka would be coined in Glasgow. However, other theories suggest that the dish actually is an evolved version of butter chicken to the British empire. Tandoor is actually a way to cook meat. A tandoor was a clay pot used thousands of years ago to cook meat. Although, I did not have a clay pot, grilling the chicken would still give it that smokey flavor that would come for using a tandoor. 

In conclusion, this dish was something I would have never attempted if I did not have all of the spices. Thank you for being so generous in sending everyone all the spices, my mother said that she is going to be using them in more of her recipes now. Indian food has so many unique flavors and health benefits to the number of spices within their dishes.

 

My sources:

The History of Tandoori Chicken. (2019, January 23). Retrieved June 29, 2020, from https://www.desiblitz.com/content/the-history-of-tandoori-chicken

The History of Tandoori Chicken: Infographics – Times of India. (2020, April 17). Retrieved June 29, 2020, from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/food-news/the-history-of-tandoori-chicken-infographics/articleshow/75203860.cms

June 29, 2020
by 47376463
0 comments

Tofu Tikka Masala

 

Finished Tofu Tikka Masala

Tofu in marinade

Curry in process of being cooked

Tofu Tikka Masala

As a big fan of the Food Network and an even bigger fan of Bobby Flay, I have seen Tikka Masala made and mentioned countless times. This Indian Food Culture assignment was the perfect opportunity to bring inspiration from the Iron Chefs and Indian cuisine into my own kitchen with a slight twist of using tofu instead of chicken. Which considering tofu doesn’t carry much flavor within itself it created a great vehicle for testing out these new Indian spices and is just another substitute for chicken similar to paneer but in this case tofu allows for this recipe to be lactose free and gluten free!

Tikka Masala is a modern day Indian dish that finds its place in Indian history by returning to the Mughal Empire. The great Mughal emperor Ashoka created his infamous edicts to enforce the idea of religious nonviolence attitudes, this including banning the needless killing of animals (including chickens). Simply by substituting the chicken (the meat often used in Tikka Masala) with tofu, Tikka Masala is easily a vegetarian-friendly dish that would’ve been beloved by the Indian people of the 200 BCEs. 

However, the true history of Tikka Masala finds its origin in the 1950’s – 1970’s when a customer complaint inspired chef Ali Ahmed Aslam to use a tomato sauce (similar to curry) in response to the chicken being too dry. This addition immediately became popular and quickly spread as a new staple of Indian cuisine. The chicken dish being adapted to “Tikka Masala,” “masala” representing the flavorful curry paste added to the “tikka” which represented the yogurt marinated chicken. 

Breakdown of Spices Used:

Garam Masala – used in marinade

“Garam Masala” translates to “hot spice mix.” This spice mixture includes: black pepper, cumin, clove, cardamon, and cinnamon. It originated in Northern India and gets hotter in flavor as it spread South. 

Kashmiri Chiles/ Kashmiri Red Chili Powder – used in marinade and curry

These chiles are usually dried and come with mild heat. They are known for the vibrant red hue they add to Indian dishes. The Kashmiri Chili was introduced to Indian cuisine in the 1500s by Portuguese traders. These chiles are also used to create the red chili powder common to a wide variety of Indian dishes such as Bhaji or curries. It is similar to the cayenne pepper and since the heat is so mild it is sometimes used for color and is a staple in an Indian kitchen.

Cumin seeds – used in curry

Cumin seeds originate from Syria (around 200 BCE) to East India but are majorly used in India today. They are dried fruit seeds that bring minimal flavor but develop a wonderful smell in the kitchen. Cumin seeds also have been carried in tradition, during travels or wedding ceremonies, to symbolize faithfulness and also was believed to keep chickens from wandering off (I found this comical because traditional Tikka Masala uses chicken). 

The Results:

By cooking Tofu Tikka Masala I was surprised at the sweetness of this Indian dish. It was reminiscent of pumpkin pie with a slight after kick of heat. Since I am lactose intolerant which meant using lactose free yogurt and almond cream as mild adjustments to this recipe, I believe this created a dish slightly sweeter in taste than typically served. I was fond of the wonderful aroma this brought to my apartment and would love to try this again. I also learned from researching the spices and other Indian dishes that many ingredients are used again and again. For example, garam masala contains cinnamon but the curry recipe used a cinnamon stick; cumin seeds are also used to make garam masala. I think this signifies the unity of flavors that creates the strong food culture known to India.

Bibliography:

Alfaro, D. (2020, June 17). How to Use Garam Masala in Your Indian Dishes. Retrieved June, 2020, from https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-garam-masala-995690

Cumin. (n.d.). Retrieved June, 2020, from https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Cumin

Grant, A. (2018). Cumin Plant Care. Retrieved June, 2020, from https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/cumin/cumin-herb-information.htm

Kashmiri Chile Powder. (n.d.). Retrieved June, 2020, from https://www.spicesinc.com/p-9078-kashmiri-chile-powder.aspx

Manali. (2019, March 24). Tofu Tikka Masala. Retrieved June, 2020, from https://www.cookwithmanali.com/tofu-tikka-masala/

McCormick Science Institute. (n.d.). Cumin. Retrieved June, 2020, from https://www.mccormickscienceinstitute.com/resources/culinary-spices/herbs-spices/cumin

Sen, Colleen Taylor. Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food in India. 2015.

Trautmann, T. R. (2016). India: Brief history of a civilization. New York: Oxford University Press.

June 29, 2020
by 46783468
0 comments

Chicken Curry

 

Perhaps one of the most popular dishes in the world, curry is not only a delicious, but easy to make and carries an interesting history. I ended up spending more time reading what I could find about it than preparing the dish itself.

Curry has an amazing history, but before discussing that (or the recipe) a couple of things should be made clear. Firstly, that curry simply means “a spiced meat or vegetable stew” and it is unrelated to the curry tree (although its leaves are used in some recipes). Now that this is clear, can we move on to the history of curry itself.

According to Colleen Taylor’s book Feasts and Fasts : A History of Food in India “Analysis of the residue in cooking pots and human and bovine teeth at Farmana, 60 km  from New Delhi, confirms that between 2500 and 2000 BCE cooks in the Indus Valley were using turmeric, ginger and garlic as flavourings – the ingredients for a 4,000-year-old north Indian curry.” [1] This makes curry older than the Indo-European Migrations. The history of curry continues undisturbed until the arrival of the Portuguese in Goa and the Columbian Exchange. It is in Goa that the Indians learn of the use of chili as an element of cooking (which up until then had been used as dyes in the subcontinent). Kashmiri Chili became the predilect element of spiciness in the dish, and Cayenne pepper in the Caribbean recipes. With the expansion of the British East India Company in the 18th and 19th centuries came the worldwide expansion of curry. Not only was it introduced by British officers to Japan, but it became popular in the Caribbean by Indian laborers, and of course became a de rigueur dish of London coffee houses.

With such a rich history, you might start to wonder what the recipe is. Here it goes:

Ingredients:

-Cinnamon

-Ginger

-Fennel seeds

-Kashmiri Chili*

-Turmeric

-Cumin

-Salt

-Pepper

-Onion

-Garlic

-Olive Oil

-Coriander

-Chicken

-Basmati Rice

-Tomato Paste

-Chicken Broth

-Corn Starch

-Heavy Cream

*Here is where what was said earlier comes into play; I used cayenne pepper instead of Kashmiri Chili as per the Caribbean recipes.

Steps:

  1. Chop onions and garlic and toss them in a pot along with some olive oil.
  2. Add tomato paste and chicken broth
  3. Mix until desired amount is reached, and sauce is sufficiently hot
  4. Add all the spices you have to the mix.
  5. Bring to a boil, then add the chicken.
  6. Let it boil for a while, and add corn starch at the last minute (so as to thicken the sauce)
  7. Add heavy cream to the pot
  8. Your chicken curry is ready, serve on a bed of Basmati rice and add a couple of coriander leaves on top for presentation.

Serve along Naan bread if desired (which I highly recommend)

The whole process including prep time should take no more than 40 minutes

-Gunnar Mebius

[1] Sen, Colleen Taylor. Feasts and Fasts : A History of Food in India, Reaktion Books, Limited, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/southernmethodist/detail.action?docID=1864179.
Created from southernmethodist on 2020-06-29 11:30:11.

June 29, 2020
by 45344381
0 comments

Sheekh Kabob Tandoori


Michael Sullivan

6/29/2020

HIST 2390

While I personally cannot cook, I chose to order Seekh Kabob Tandoori, from a local restaurant.  Seekh Kabob Tandoori, is a traditional lamb skewer dish native to northern India and Pakistan.  The meat is generally cut very thin and cooked on a metal skewer, used to cook the meat from the inside over an open flame.  When finished, the meat has a very aromatic taste. This dish combines many of the spices most prevalent in Indian cuisine, including: turmeric, coriander, cumin, chili powder, tamarind and garam masala. Like many other Indian dishes, Seekh Kabab Tandoori, is generally served with a side of rice and naan bread.

The most important of the spices in Seekh Kabob Tandoori is garam masala.  Garam masala, which translates closely to “warm spice mix,” is known for its strong taste and is generally used to season meats.  Garam, meaning “heat”, does not mean the spice is necessarily spicy. Garam masala is more commonly known for its ability to raise the body’s temperature and metabolism.  There is not one single recipe for garam masala, which leads to variations in its taste. However, the main ingredients of cumin, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, nutmeg, and cinnamon remain relatively universal.

Turmeric is another spice that is typically present in Seekh Kabob Tandoori.  Dating back to the as far as the Indus Valley civilization in 2500 BCE, turmeric has been a staple in Indian cuisine.  Turmeric is well known for its health benefits. In Feasts and Fast: A History of Food in India, Taylor writes, “Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in India and China to combat infection and reduce inflammation” (Taylor 25).  In the 16th century, a Portuguese physician named Garcia de Orta noted turmeric’s ability to heal diseases of the eyes and skin. Turmeric became a popular Indian export to Arabia and Persia. According to some Hindu traditions, following the death of a close relative, normal eating habits must be suspended for ten to thirteen days.  This tradition specifically prevents the use of turmeric in cooking due to its symbolism of favorable events.

Coriander is a large contributor to the floral taste of Seekh Kabob Tandoori. A member of the parsley family, both coriander’s seeds and leaves are common in Indian cooking.  Similar to turmeric, coriander is known in India for its healing properties.  Some claim that coriander can be used to ease indigestion, migraines, and arthritic pain.  While the spice is very popular in Indian cooking, it is mostly grown in the South and a small part of Central India.

Seekh Kabob Tandoori likely only became popularized in India after the arrival of the Muslims.  Lamb is a meat that is very popular in the Central Asia Muslim countries.  When more Muslims started to arrive in India around the 7th century BCE, they likely brought their affinity for the mutton along with them.  Hinduism largely discourages the consumption of meat so much of early Indian food history is plant-based.  Taylor writes, “The Manasolassa’s many meat recipes are complex and highly aromatic, belying the notion that elaborate meat dishes appeared only with the arrival of the Muslims” (Taylor 142).  Seekh Kabob Tandoori mirrors many of the Manansala’s food themes, including its complex nature and aromatic taste.

Seekh Kabob Tandoori, highlights many of Indian cuisine’s primary spices and flavors.  The dish demonstrates the region’s complex flavors and illustrates Muslim influence of Indian culture.

 

June 29, 2020
by 46309683
0 comments

Tandoori Chicken

Chicken Tandoori is a chicken dish made by cooking marinated chicken in a clay oven. It is one of the most popular modern Indian dishes and most recognizable by people in other cultures when they think of Indian cuisine, but its origins go back further than almost any other dish we still eat today. In Harappa ruins that are dated back to the year 3000 BC there is evidence of charred chicken bones and clay oven remains that share the same shape as the modern Tandoors.  The ovens were simple clay cylinders which would keep heat in and work in a very similar way to modern ovens, reaching temperatures of up to 480 degrees Celsius (900 degrees Fahrenheit) after being filled with charcoal and firewood. Personally, I do not really understand how the method is referred to as “slow cooking” in some sources while in a 900-degree oven, but I do not have an oven capable of that anyways. We get an inkling of the spices used from ancient Sanskrit writings that talk about mustard powder and fragrant spices being used on chicken in clay ovens 

Though the dish can be dated back extremely far, it has only become such a staple of Indian cuisine again more recently. An extremely famous restaurant known as Moti Mahal in Peshawar began serving the dish again in the 1940s and brought it back into the public eye. As for its popularity outside of India, it is said that Jacqueline Kennedy ate it on a plane ride back to the United States and lauded its taste, the recipe was then posted in the Los Angeles times in 1960. The dish was also popular among soviet leaders like Nikita Khrushchev during this period.  

The recipe I used accounted for my lack of a proper tandoori oven with ways to use a normal oven. I just used a normal chicken breast as that was all the chicken I had on hand. The process started with cleaning the chicken and making some cuts along the side so that the marinade would be able to seep in and better absorb into the chicken as a whole rather than just the outside. The marinade itself I made with a bit of plain yogurt, oil, lemon juice, I didn’t have any ginger but there would have been ginger, garlic, Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric powder, cumin, coriander, and a little bit of chili powder but not very much because I am bad with spice, then just some salt to finish it off. This was a bit more involved than the cooking I usually do but I am decently happy with the results and went and cooked this at my parents’ house since they have a better oven than I do so I had a little help measuring and such. Then I cooked it for a short period before taking it out and putting on some more marinade, doing this several times before turning the oven higher to get some crisp on the outside.  

June 29, 2020
by 47038372
0 comments

Chicken Tikka Masala

For my Indian food project, I chose to make Chicken Tikka Masala, a popular Indian cuisine whose modern interpretation actually originates from England and is an example of how food from other cultures and regions can be modified or created to appeal more to a different culture. Chicken tikka masala is a simple and easy to make dish that takes about 45 minutes to and hour to prep. Using this recipe from Delish.com, I gathered my spices and bought any missing items and began preparing by cutting the chicken into 1 inch pieces. Usually the chicken is supposed to be cooked on a grill, which I don’t have, so I heated a skillet on the stove and added olive oil and the chicken to cook. While the chicken cooks, I did about 10 minutes on each side, I cut up and diced 1 full onion, causing my eyes to be sandblasted by onion scent, then through the tears I minced a bit of ginger. Once the chicken was cooked, I took it out of the skillet and added the onions to cook for about 7 minutes, or until caramelized and soft. I then added the ginger, garlic and other spices to the skillet and mixed them with the onions to cook for another 2 minutes. The spices used in this dish are commonly seen in Indian cuisine and include ½ tsp of turmeric, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp paprika, 2 tsp garam masala, and 1 tsp red pepper powder. It was now time to add a full 28oz can of crushed tomatoes to the skillet, however I miss placed my can opener, but, through a process of stabbing the lid multiple times with a knife around the edge, I got the red chunky stuff in the skillet. I let the skillet simmer for about 17 minutes and then added in the chicken and ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of heavy whipping cream, turning the red, salsa like mixture into a creamy orange curry. Then I put the chicken tikka masala into a bowl and enjoyed the food. This dish is usually served with rice and naan bread but can also be enjoyed on its own.

 

Chicken tikka masala is similar in look to the popular Indian dish, Butter Chicken, however chicken tikka masala has a more complex mixture of spices, contain more of a tomato bass, and is generally much spicier. Traditionally in India, the chicken would have been cooked by using a tandoor clay oven. The chicken would be cooked with the bone in and as a whole piece. The use of “tikka”, or small pieces of meat, arose from the first leader and founder of the Mughal dynasty, Babur. Babur was tired of eating around the bones so he ordered the chefs to remove them before cooking the chicken, resulting in what was named “joleh” which is Persian for “tikka”. The modern incarnation of chicken tikka masala is said to originate from Glasgow, Scotland, supposedly created in 1971 at Shish Mahal, a well known authentic curry house. Ali Ahmed Aslam claims to have created the dish after a customer complained that his chicken was dry by adding tomato soup and various spices used in Indian food. There is, however, many claims to the origins of chicken tikka masala, including a dish named Shahi Chicken Masala, which was published in 1961 in the Indian Cookery magazine by Mrs. Balbir Singh. This dish is similar to chicken tikka masala in terms of the use of similar spices but does not use nearly as much tomato soup or tomato paste. Though not originally from India, chicken tikka masala has become one of the most widely known Indian dishes and is generally a staple at many Indian restaurants.

 

Editors, D. (2020, January 30). Make The Best Chicken Tikka Masala Right At Home. Retrieved June 29, 2020, from https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a20151723/easy-chicken-tikka-masala-recipe/

Is chicken tikka masala actually Indian, not British? (2019, December 11). Retrieved June 29, 2020, from https://www.scmp.com/magazines/style/leisure/article/3022868/fact-check-chicken-tikka-masala-actually-indian-not-british

Chalmers, T. (2017, August 02). A Brief History of Chicken Tikka Masala. Retrieved June 29, 2020, from https://theculturetrip.com/europe/united-kingdom/scotland/articles/a-brief-history-of-chicken-tikka-masala/

June 29, 2020
by 47347382
0 comments

Chicken Tikka Masala

William Haab

Indian Food and Culture Assignment

History 2390

06-29-2020

 

For the Indian Food assignment, I decided to make the famous Indian dish, Chicken Tikka Masala. This beautiful meal features a warm bed of soft white rice underneath a creamy, red tomato sauce mixed with chunks of chicken breasts. Before I organized my spices and started cooking, I looked into the brief history behind Chicken Tikka Masala and where it started. The origin of the dish is still highly debated; however, historians say it was discovered in the 1970s after a customer in Britain complained that his chicken was too dry, so a Bangladesh chef used a creamy tomato sauce to cover his chicken. It is also said that the Masala sauce was introduced to Chicken Tikka in order to make it easier on the British palate. After doing research on this meal, I was ready to bring it all together and make my own Chicken Tikka Masala.

While I was figuring out the ingredients and where to get started, I began to wonder where some of the spices came from and the history behind them. Out of the many spices I used, the Kashmiri Chili was the one I found to be most interesting and authentic to Indian culture. Kashmiri Chili’s were introduced to India around the beginning of the sixteenth century by Portuguese traders. This spice quickly spread throughout India and became a main ingredient in the Indian culinary world. Kashmiri became very popular amongst the people due to its bold taste and red tone. The chili was incorporated into food to dye the color of the meal while also creating a unique flavor, which is widely seen throughout Indian culture. Compared to other Indian spices, Kashmiri Chili is slightly mild with a hint of a smokey accent to enhance the other flavors. When adding it to the dish, It really made everything come together as it began to look like Chicken Tikka Masala. 

Cooking this dish was difficult, but very enjoyable. Because I was not completely familiar with Indian spices, I followed the directions exactly in order to make sure I did not add too little or too much spice.  As the process was coming to an end, my kitchen had a very strong aroma of a tomato-spice blend. The preparation of the meal took about 15 minutes, while cooking the actual dish took almost an hour. After the rice was finished and the chicken looked ready,  I mixed all the ingredients together and was left with a beautiful bowl of Chicken Tikka Masala. After cleaning up the kitchen, I was very excited to try my first take at Indian cuisine. Making the dish was a good amount of work; however, it was all worth it after the first bite. My family and I were pleasantly surprised how the food turned out as we all sat down to enjoy the Indian dish. I highly recommend making this Indian dish because of its great taste, bold spices and history in Indian culture.  

Sources

Siciliano-Rosen, L. (2019, October 04). Chicken tikka masala. Retrieved June 29, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/chicken-tikka-masala

Kashmiri Chile Powder. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2020, from https://www.spicesinc.com/p-9078-kashmiri-chile-powder.aspx

June 29, 2020
by Jonah Simon
0 comments

Tandoori Chicken + Extras

For my Indian Food & Culture project, I decided to make a meal featuring Punjabi flavors: tandoori chicken, saag-style spinach, spiced rice, and a mango lassi shake, following this recipe from Monica’s Spice Diary. Tandoori chicken is traditionally a dish of Punjabi extraction The preparation of the tandoori chicken was especially notable to me because it required two stages of marination (most meat dishes I like to prepare require only one)! I first let the chicken thighs rest for one hour in a mixture of salt and lime juice, and then for another hour in a covering of yogurt, olive oil, and a variety of spices. Only after that was it ready to be placed on the grill! Traditionally, tandoori chicken (as the name might suggest) is cooked in a large, cylindrical clay oven called a tandoor, but I don’t own one, so I cooked my chicken on the grill instead (with the blessing of Monica’s recipe, of course). After letting cool and seasoning with lime and salt, the dish was ready to eat, but there was something missing…

In order to complement my tandoori chicken, I also made a side of saag-inspired spinach and a bit of spiced rice, plus a mango lassi shake! Saag is traditionally a dish of sautéed leafy greens (made in a stovetop skillet) featuring most of the same spices from the tandoori chicken, often featuring paneer (an Indian cheese) in Punjabi variations. I did not blend my saag down to the traditional consistency, instead sautéeing the spinach leaves whole. For my rice, I simply added two cups of basmati rice to a rice cooker, followed by a sprinkling in of crushed garlic, cardamom pods, and turmeric powder (also to give it that nice yellow color). For the mango lassi shake, I simply blended together mango, milk, ice, yogurt, and honey—what resulted was a delicious mango-flavored drink with a consistency somewhere between a milkshake and a slushy.

Tandoori chicken finds its cultural origins in the ruins of Harappa, where researchers found a cylindrical oven that looks remarkably similar to the modern-day tandoor. The tandoori cooking method has been preserved throughout the intervening millenia, but it was not until the mid-20th century that the proprietors of Moti Mahal restaurant in Peshawar settled on the general recipe we know today. The story goes that following the partition in 1947, Moti Mahal moved to Delhi, where the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, fell so in love with the dish that his patronage catapulted tandoori chicken to national and international prominence. The history of mango lassi can trace a similar sort of history: ancient Punjabi roots and recent revitalization. Mango lassi is a particularly popular flavor, but lassi has also served as a traditional vehicle for other flavors, notably the consumption of bhang, which is a traditional preparation of edible cannabis.

All in all, it was an absolute treat to cook using authentic Indian spices and culinary techniques from the comfort of my own kitchen. The meal that I assembled worked together in a fantastic symphony of flavors: the sweetness of the mango lassi shake balanced out the spiciness of the chicken, while the rice and spinach provided a hearty base. I look forward to making these dishes again soon and continuing to explore Punjabi and Indian cuisine!

 

Works Cited

 

Sawhney, M. (2020, May 30). Tandoori Chicken & Mango Lassi Shake. Retrieved June 29, 2020, from http://spicediary.com/2020/05/tandoori-chicken-mango-lassi-shake/

 

The Times of India. (2020, April 17). The History of Tandoori Chicken: Infographics – Times of India. Retrieved June 29, 2020, from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/food-news/the-history-of-tandoori-chicken-infographics/articleshow/75203860.cms

 

Fiegl, A. (2010, July 01). What’s a Lassi? Retrieved June 29, 2020, from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/whats-a-lassi-92519178/

June 29, 2020
by Raleigh Dewan
0 comments

Kheer: An Essential Dish

When my mother first met my dad’s parents, one of the first Indian dishes my grandmother started her with was kheer. Whenever my brothers and I visited in the summers, she would always have some prepared for my arrival and right after I hugged her at the door I shot off to the fridge!

Cooking the rice in milk with cardamom pods

Kheer is believed to have originated in the Lord Jagannath Temple in Orissa almost 2,000 years ago. Traditionally, it was served as a special offering to the Hindu gods. The practice of offering kheer spread to all corners of the South Asia region to a multitude of Hindu temples—the exact recipe was altered a bit depending on local traditions and tastes. Currently, there are significant differences in kheer from Southern, Eastern, and Northern India.[1]

 

A page from Nimmatnama-i-Nasiruddin-Shahi which documents the fine art of making kheer. Credit Wikipedia

In Southern India, this rice dish is known by its Hindi name, payasam, and due to an ancient legend, it is served at temples as part of a treasured tradition. The story originates from the Ambalappuzha temple and describes how Lord Krishan cleverly disguised himself as an old sage and challenged a local king to a chess match. The king accepted the offer and for the bet, the king would owe a grain of rice for each square of the chessboard, but with one catch—each subsequent square would have double the grains of the previous. The sage wins and the king realizes his mistake as he owes trillions of grains of rice. Krishna reveals himself and instead of forcing payment he institutes a tradition that at the local temple, kheer shall be served freely to anyone who entered.[2]

 

Kheer was also one of the most popular dishes with the British once they began settling and ruling India. Once wives began coming from England, Anglo-Indian cookbooks began to be produced and shared.

 

These Anglo-Indian cookbooks, which were printed often, brought what might be considered “modern” recipe standard to Indian kitchens. They weren’t just cookbooks but also management guides for homes that were intended to help the British women arriving in India adjust to this new context. During the 19th century, these cookbooks would define and continually redefine the methods of how British families and houses in India worked and what they ate. With the expansion of the colonial rule and deepening racial divide after 1857, many households stopped eating local food and stuck primarily to British cuisine. However, kheer was still consumed though it was co-opted by the British and appropriated.

 

Kheer, a kind of rice pudding, is a simple dish that can be easily customized with spices and toppings. Traditionally, cardamom is the primary spice used for the desert. Saffron is also often used, but not as the primary flavor profile. For toppings, different kinds of raw nuts and dried fruits are added like cashews or almonds and raisins or mangoes. However, most of the rice pudding available in grocery stores and major commercial outlets are not kheer. They do not contain cardamom nor are they prepared in the same way—cinnamon is often used instead. The beauty of personalization also extends to servings methods with kheer. It can be served hot right after cooking or chilled and eaten cold. Kheer is a perfect base or canvas to express a host of diverse, culinary tastes and ideas.

 

This dish was so much fun to make and it made my dad so happy when I surprised him with his mother’s famous kheer. It also deepened my understanding of the appreciation and versatile, expert use of milk in Indian cuisine. With one ingredient, there are so many wonderful possibilities! Uncovering the history of kheer also deepened my understanding of Indian history and how significant a role food plays. The first mention of kheer, which historians say was derived from the Sanksrit word kshirika (meaning a dish prepared with milk), is found in the fourteenth century Padmavat of Gugarat. Its origins are tied to temples and religious legends, demonstrating just how tied religion, history, and food are for India.

 

[1] SEMIYA PAYASAM. (n.d.). Retrieved June 24, 2020, from http://www.vahrehvah.com/indianfood/semiya-payasam/

[2] History of Indian Food. (n.d.). History of Indian Food. Retrieved June 24, 2020, from http://www.haldiramusa.com/History_Indian_Food.htm

Skip to toolbar