Category Archives: Chicken

Eat Cheat: Maya Kaimal Indian Simmer Sauces

The success of your no-muss-no-fuss meals depends very much on what you keep in the house.  Fortunately, I live right above a robust market, so I can generally grab most things, but even so, it is MUCH easier to motivate yourself to cook when you already have the ingredients and can just get down to business without a store run.

We all have ingredients that we keep on hand almost all the time.  They vary from household to household.  In my apartment, we almost always have bread, whole wheat pasta, brown basmati rice, bags of frozen vegetables and a package of tofu.  We also have cabinet drawers full of Indian spices.

The other night I was downstairs in my local market checking out what I could buy that would make a quick and easy meal.  I figured I should buy a few different things that I could whip up in a jiffy so that I wouldn’t have the laziness excuse not to do it.  I spied a jar of Maya Kaimal Coconut Curry sauce and decided to give it a try.

I put some rice in the rice cooker, dumped some frozen vegetables and cubes of tofu into the curry sauce and simmered it for about 10 minutes.  Dinner was done.  That was it.

It was very tasty. I personally have never had a coconut curry that was Indian (only Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, Sri Lankan) and didn’t really know it existed.  The curry reminded me of some Thai dishes I’ve had.  It was so easy and yummy, and you can feed 4 people from a single jar.  There are also directions on the jar for making the curry with meat, for the non-veg among us.

I got myself the Tikka Masala one too, but haven’t tried it yet.  To be clear, this may or may not be satisfying for an actual Desi person who knows their way around a kitchen or has been fed by someone who does.  I haven’t tested it on the husband yet.  But let’s be honest – Desi’s aren’t reading my blog anyway, unless it’s to chuckle at how cute I am at botching their cuisine.  So for the rest of us – enjoy!

Addendum: Tried the Tikka Masala but not really a fan.  Too tomato-intense and rich for me.  But you might like it, you never know.

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Dish #9 – Royal Chicken Korma

I’ve owed you this post for several weeks now. Forgive me!

On the same night that I made Dal Masur, I also made Royal Chicken Korma from Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook, “From Curries to Kebabs.” I botched it, but it was still a good recipe 🙂

I’ve always been a fan of korma. I’ve eaten Navrattan Korma and “Vegetable Korma” in Indian restaurants here in the U.S. They are usually sweet, creamy white curries with nuts, fruit and vegetables in them. So good. My husband tells me that these are not authentic – big surprise.

A little reading in Madhur Jaffrey’s book, along with some internet research, tells me that korma came from the Mughals, the Persian conquerors who invaded India and stuck around for a couple of centuries. The Mughals have a fascinating history, some of which I was lucky enough to learn from my father-in-law, and some I learned from William Dalrymple.

Recipes from the web:

I’m not ashamed to admit that, as I stated above, I botched this recipe good.  I halved the recipe, but forgot half the time that I was halving it.  I added about 5x the cinnamon that was called for.  In the end, I was so put off by all the cinnamon and disappointed by my failure that my husband’s protestations that it wasn’t bad didn’t convince me.  I will happily try this recipe again.  It had some really interesting aspects to it (e.g. soak a thread of saffron in warmed heavy cream for 2-3 hours).

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The Great Chicken Tikka Masala Fraud

I mentioned before that Chicken Tikka Masala was the first Indian dish I had ever tasted, so imagine my dismay at opening up “From Curries to Kebabs” and finding out that the origins of this dish are in… the UK!  Not only non-Indian, but Western, to boot.  The shame.

Then my copy of “Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors” came in the mail (Royal Mail) and I opened the first chapter named “Chicken Tikka Masala” and read the following:

“No sooner had the then Foreign Minister Robin Cook announced chicken tikka masala as the new national dish of Great Britain in 2001 than food critics were condemning it as a British invention.  Chicken tikka masala, they sneered, was not a shining example of British multiculturalism but a demonstration of the British facility for reducing all foreign foods to their most unappetising and inedible form.  Rather than the inspired invention of an enterprising Indian chef, this offensive dish was dismissed as the result of an ignorant customer’s complaint that his chicken tikka was too dry.  When the chef whipped together a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, some cream and a few spices to provide a gravy for the offending chicken, he produced a mongrel dish of which, to their shame, Britons now eat at least eighteen tonnes a week.  Chicken tikka masala’s most heinous crime, according to its critics, is not so much that it tastes horried but that it is not authentic.”

Wow.  Campbell’s Tomato Soup??  Way to put a damper on my making the dish.  The BBC even reported that this British dish is gaining popularity in India despite it’s not being an Indian dish at all.

I decided to push through, however, since it’s so damn delicious. I followed Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe to a tee. And in the end… I didn’t have Chicken Tikka Masala. I had a chunky curry, not smooth, filled with tomatoes and onions.  I couldn’t reconcile this with the Chicken Tikka Masala I’d had before, I just couldn’t.  I was about to give up altogether when I saw that my “Indian Cooking” cookbook, previously maligned, had a recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala as well. I already had the chicken tikka made, so I attempted this sauce instead.  It called for a can of chunked tomatoes and heavy cream, so right off the bat it sounded more accurate.  I made it within minutes, added the chicken and voila!  It may not be “desi” (or red, since I left out the paprika), but it’s damn good.

I also got the chapatis recipe from “Indian Cooking,” and those were great, so perhaps I was too quick to judge!

Recipes from the web:

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Dish #2: Chicken Curry

Tonight I spent nearly 2 hours with this recipe.  I’m sure that it’s not supposed to take that long once you’re a pro, but I’m still at the beginner’s stage of going slow with painstaking care so as to get it right.  I used one package of chicken breasts, but made at least 5 servings (intentionally – my mother-in-law said to make extra because it tastes better the next day, after the meat has absorbed the spices). 

Recipes on the web:

My version had chicken, potatoes, tomatoes and onions in it, and was super good.  I will admit that I put too much red chili powder, making it borderline painful for me and just right for my husband.  I also cooked some organic brown basmati rice that was the perfect complement for this dish. 

Dish #2 = success, though next time I have to remove my portion before going heavy on the chili powder.

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