As of October 18, 2013, Pie and Beer has moved!

Click here to go to the new address, or stay here to read posts from the archives.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Curry Leaves

The bug and I went to an Indian-food potluck last night at Courtney's house, and for the occasion I learned to make one of my favorite (New York) Indian restaurant dishes, Mangalorean chicken, a southern Indian coconut-milk curry. I first made it last week, sticking close to this recipe, which is, I think, from the L.A. Times. After a little tweaking, here's what I came up with:
Mangalorean chicken

For the potluck, I used half thighs and half breast meat, adding the latter with the coconut milk so it didn't overcook and dry out. If you're only making enough for two or three large servings, though, just use thighs.

1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled
3 cloves garlic
1 medium-size onion, roughly chopped
About 2 teaspoons ghee
2 medium-size tomatoes, halved and grated, skins discarded
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon green or white cardamom pods
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into large chunks
1 small (5.6-ounce) can coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds (black or yellow)
4 or 5 dried red chiles, stems removed
About 20 fresh curry leaves

Put the ginger and garlic in a mini food processor and finely mince them. Add the onion and process until finely diced but not pureed. Heat a little bit of the ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion mixture, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until somewhat thickened.

Add the chicken and simmer over medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Put the remaining ghee, the mustard seeds, chiles, and curry leaves in a small skillet over high heat. Cook, stirring constantly and pressing down on the chiles, for about 3 minutes, until the seeds begin to pop out of the pan and the chiles are blackened in spots. Scrape the ghee mixture into the chicken and stir to combine. Cook for 3 minutes longer, then serve. This is a picture of my earlier attempt; the revised dish looks the same except the sauce is thicker and smoother.
I also made a tindora dish that I think worked pretty well. You could probably use sliced okra or zucchini or yellow squash instead of tindora. Did not take a picture, but the tindora was very pretty and colorful—green skin, turmeric-yellow coconut flakes, and flecks of red pepper.
Curried tindora

This is similar to a recipe on Mahanandi. Next time I'd add some slivered onions. Look here for many more ideas for using tindora. I got them at the enormous upscale Super H Mart grocery outside Atlanta. H Mart is like an Asian Whole Foods, but cheap. It has sample tables that would put Costco to shame, Asian fast food counters where you can get sushi or noodles or dumplings or whatever, all the usual snacks and sauces and noodles and Asian ingredients (there's a whole section of several dozen different kinds of fresh kimchee—H Mart is primarily Korean, I believe), beautifully stacked produce, fresh fish, and reasonably priced meat.

1 teaspoon ghee
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, sliced
About 1 pound tindora, trimmed and cut lengthwise into quarters
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Large pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried unsweetened coconut
Salt to taste

In a skillet, combine the ghee, mustard seeds, cumin, and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, until the mustard seeds start to pop out of the pan. Add the tindora and a tablespoon of water and cook, stirring frequently, until the tindora is softened but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the remaining ingredients, tossing and stirring to coat the tindora evenly, and cook for 1 minute. Serve hot or at room temperature.
And here's one of my favorite little sweet treats, and probably the easiest thing you'll ever make. Pretty much straight out of Yamuna Devi's Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. Some people said it reminded them of those Danish shortbread cookies that come in big round blue tins, or fudge, or real shortbread. They're buttery and toasty-nutty, and very delicate-textured.
Besan ladoo

3/4 cup ghee (see this post about how to make a large batch of ghee)
2 cups besan (chickpea flour; use the finest grind you can get)
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup light brown sugar (Devi suggests maple sugar as an option)

In a heavy skillet over low heat, combine the ghee, besan, walnuts, coconut, and nutmeg. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture turns just a shade darker. Add the brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, over low to medium-low heat, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is the color of dark brown sugar. Be careful not to let the mixture burn, and keep stirring it from the bottom. Immediately scrape the mixture into a square baking pan and spread it evenly in the bottom so it's about 1/2 inch deep (this amount will half-fill a 9-inch square pan; just smush it into one side of the bottom of the pan), smoothing the top. Put in the refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes, or let it cool and firm up at room temperature. Cut into tiny squares (a little goes a long way) in the pan, and lift them out carefully (they're a bit fragile). Keep refrigerated until an hour or so before serving time if the weather's hot.

1 comment:

Courtney said...

Wow, that was some amazing good food. Thanks for sharing the recipes. It would be hard to pick a favorite, but the Besan ladoo was the most delightful surprise. I never would've guessed those ingredients would make something so rich and delicious! Yum!