Sunday, May 15, 2016

Quick and Easy Indian Cooking

I have no yogurt in the house.  Okay, this may be tough, but here goes....

Madhur Jaffrey came into the public eye as an actress.  She was born and raised in India, then traveled to London to join the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1955. While in London, she was so disappointed in the food that she asked he mother for recipes and began to teach herself to cook.  She did lots of radio and theater work, and her first film, Shakespeare Wallah, came out in 1965. Her first cookbook, An Invitation to Indian Cooking, came out in 1973.

This is not that book.  But it is my first Madhur Jaffrey cookbook.

I was introduced to this book by a friend, who convinced me I needed a copy.  It wasn't hard -- he cooked for me. Mango lassis FTW!  I have now been conditioned by this book to start salivating as soon as I see it.  Everything we have tried has been delicious, and it really is easy.  Quick...well, it might depend on how good you are at prep.  Assembling everything once you have it ready to go is simple, but some of the recipes require a fair amount of chopping.  The recipes may not look simple at first glance either, especially if you have been seduced by cookbooks that promise results with only three ingredients.  She uses lots of spices and this makes the ingredient list twice as long as the instructions, but when the most difficult part of prepping them is finding where they are in your cupboard, I don't think you have to worry much.  (YMMV -- my cupboards are full but generally organized.)

The lamb recipes (Lamb Stewed in Coconut Milk!) are good. The chicken recipes are good (Silken Chicken!). The lentil recipes (Whole Green Lentils with Cilantro and Mint!) are good! There's even a Hard-Boiled Eggs Masala that is great when you have no idea what to make for dinner.  And the Mango Lassi.... *sigh*

I think the recipe I'll give you is one of the first we made after getting the cookbook.  It's good for picnics and potlucks, can be served at any temperature, and eaten with fork, toothpicks, or fingers.

Delicious Chicken Bits
Murgh ke mazedar tukray

1 1/4 pounds boned, skinned chicken breasts (4 breast pieces)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon bright red paprika
3/4 teaspoon salt
About 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut each chicken breast piece into thirds, lengthwise, and then crosswise into 3/4-inch to 1-inch segments. Put in a bowl. Add the black pepper, turmeric, cayenne pepper, cumin, thyme, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes or longer.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or large, nonstick frying pan over very high heat. When the oil is very hot, put in the chicken. Stir and fry quickly until the chicken pieces are lightly browned or turn opaque on the outside. Put in a baking dish, cover loosely with oiled waxed paper (which should sit inside the dish and directly on the chicken pieces), and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the chicken pieces are just cooked through. If not to be eaten immediately, remove the chicken pieces from the hot baking dish to prevent them from drying out.

Serves 6-8

I want a mango lassi....

Shakespeare Wallah on YouTube

Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking Shakespeare Wallah - The Merchant Ivory Collection Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India

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