Monday, September 11, 2006

Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum

So last night for Sunday Company Dinner, we took a tour of India. Now other than one awesome stew, and one awesome shrimp dish, I can't say that I've ever made real authentic Indian food. So last night was all new to me. I had been planning this Indian venture for weeks, and it seemed like the closer I got, the more menu items got axed. I realized my time was limited, and finally settled on two particular recipes. Butter Chicken and Vegetable Biryani. In addition, I purchased some Naan and was planning on making plain Basmati rice, as well as the usual accompaniments, raita and chutney.

I started with the Butter Chicken. I have the recipe in my Recipe Trove, but you simply must check out the original source of my recipe at Always In The Kitchen. Ever since I saw Dawna's post about it, I had to make this chicken. I was definitely not disappointed. The end result was creamy and spicy and had a fantastic flavor. It was awesome with some rice to soak up the sauce and a raita sprinkled with cilantro. Loved it. Everyone couldn't stop eating it, it was so good. The recipe looks a little daunting, but it's really not. If you utilize a mise en place strategy here, it will come out a little quicker than you thought possible. The only change I would make if I made this again would be to use bone-in chicken, skins removed. I think that would add a fantastic depth of flavor to the dish. I already used a combination of breasts and thighs, but I think using bone-in would have made this dish. Do try it, it will be well worth your time.

Next up was the Vegetable Biryani. Biryani is a rice dish that is layered with spiced and simply cooked vegetables. I used a Martha Stewart recipe that a fellow CLBBer generously typed up and shared. Again, the recipe looks daunting, but is actually fairly easy to put together. There could easily be shortcuts taken by using frozen veggies instead of fresh here. And this was my first experience with saffron and cardamom. I wasn't going to use saffron, as I never got to Penzey's to pick some up, but one of our dinner guests generously offered me some that she had. And I am so grateful to her for sharing- I truly think the saffron is what made the dish. You could definitely detect the floral notes mixed in with the vegetables and spices. It was wonderful. The picture here to the left is saffron- vibrant red threads of goodness. As to the cardamom... I had whole cardamom and the recipe called for ground. So I converted my coffee grinder into a spice grinder at the last minute. Each pod had to be split and the tiny seeds taken out. This was a new flavor for me to work with. It's smelled slightly lemony- a lot like lemongrass actually. It will be interesting to use this further. Here is it's picture to the right. This is the whole spice- the pod (as far as I know) isn't ever used. It's the tiny seeds inside that are prized for it's flavor and aroma. I have always been slightly afraid of cardamom, as I never actually knew what it tasted like. Like the saffron, it definitely added to the Vegetable Biryani, and I imagine it would have tasted flat without it.

So overall, the Indian dinner was fantastic. I'm debating doing it again for next week's dinner. Although with totally different recipes. I still want to try to do samosas and some koftas, so we'll see what next weekend brings. In fact, this dinner was so good, that I'm wholeheartedly looking forward to lunch today, and Andy and I are actually going to have leftover night on Wednesday instead of a crock pot creation. We're both looking forward to it, and will be eating more Indian food in the future I think. Especially given the fact that today my house still smells incredible. I walk into the kitchen and it's like Oh my, that still smells awesome.

And last, but not least today. Happy Anniversary to my love. Today Andy and I have been married for 7 years. It's been 7 wonderful years with many adventures shared. Tonight we are celebrating our wedded bliss by hosting the Monday Night Football crew. (Yes, I know, I am an awesome wife!) I will be making some Buffalo chicken wing dip for dear hubby and his pals. And then I'll be retiring to the bedroom to spend the evening reading or watching something on TV. It will be an exciting evening, I tell you. Happy Anniversary Honey!


AK said...

Happy Anniversary, you two! What a feast! I did a Kitchen Parade column in January that's similar, Cashew Chicken Curry. And my uncle has been making it (and passing out the recipe!) ever since. He does it with beef too. This looks gorgeous! Three cheers for adventurous cooks and eaters!

Tammy said...

Happy Anniversary!
It sounds as if last night's dinner was fabulous.