Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - India

This week was my first week participating in My Kitchen, My World. The blog's premise is to experience other cultures through food. I love the idea, as it reconciles nicely with my Unified Food Theory that one can tell how well a culture has been accepted within another by how accepted their cuisine has become, and that food may be a way to bring cultures closer in understanding.

Anyway, with My Kitchen, My World, each week one member selects a country. It is then up to each individual blogger to find a recipe from that country, make it and blog about it. This week's country was India. I made Curried Zucchini Soup and Tandoori Chicken.

I selected this particular Curried Zucchini Soup recipe because many of the others online were made with Zucchini as well as apples. I didn't quite get the idea of apples in my curried zucchini soup. Plus, I liked how this recipe, from Emeril, finished the soup with a little bit of cream, which would give it some body and a nice mouth feel.

It was a very easy recipe to make. First, you saute the onion in a soup pot until it is soft.

Then, you add the curry powder, salt and a dash of cayenne. This is where my first misstep was made. I added two shakes from the cayenne spice container. Note to self: two shakes must equal far more than a dash because the soup ended up very spicy.

Once the spices have cooked for about 30 seconds and become aromatic, you add the zucchini and cook until softened. Then, you add the chicken broth. I was lucky and used some homemade broth that my mother had sent over. The zucchini-curry-broth mixture then cooks for another 20 minutes until the zucchini is very done.

Then, you blend the soup using either a regular blender or an immersion blender. I used an immersion blender because that is all I have. It does a good enough job. You trade the velvety smoothness of a regular blender for ease of clean-up with an immersion blender. A quick rinse under the tap and you're done (unplug it first, of course).

The blended soup had this ugly olive hue, with a yellow overtone. Kind of like if you swathed an Army tank with yellow film. Once I added the cream though, it took on an appealing color.

Overall, the soup was decent, but way too spicy. I kept one two freezer containers and gave two more away. I just wasn't feeling the love enough to keep four freezer containers of this soup for myself and Marlo.

The tandoori chicken was likewise very easy to make. You just mix up the spices with the yogurt, leave the chicken to marinate, cook it and you're done.

I modified the recipe a bit because I couldn't find the little Ziploc of powdered mustard that my mother had sent home with me. So, I used prepared spicy brown mustard instead. I didn't have cardamon, so I omitted it. Instead of regular ground cumin, I had unground black cumin seeds in my cupboard. Of course, because I am still moving households, I am sans mortar and pestle. I tried grinding the seeds against one another between my palms and did a fair job.

After the chicken had marinated for about six hours, I removed it from the marinade. I had only marinated two boneless skinless chicken thighs. There was so much marinade remaining, and I hadn't reached the maximum 24 hours of marination time, so I added another package of chicken to the remaining marinade and put it back in the fridge. I'm glad I did because once I ate a piece of the cooked chicken, I realized that six hours wasn't near long enough time to have the flavors meld properly.

Anyway, the recipe calls for baking the chicken in a baking dish. However, my oven was being used to make nectarine crisp (separate blog post coming soon). So, I dredged the chicken in flour and fried it in my cast-iron pan. Unfortunately, my cast-iron pan and I are still having an alpha-dog fight about who is in charge. Crispy bits stuck to the pan in quite a few places. The chicken was far from ending up the nicely golden brown I imagined. When I cook up the remaining chicken I have marinating, I am going to use panko instead of flour. I also may try yelling at my cast-iron skillet since seasoning it well with vegetable oil isn't working. (I've found yelling sometimes works with my computer so I'm going to see if the same applies to kitchen pans.)

Anyway, I enjoyed my meal of curried zucchini soup and tandoori chicken well enough. I think both recipes are good and that it was my execution that was less than stellar.

I can't wait to see what next week's country is.


Aunt LoLo said...

Mmmm...looks good. I just barely got my hands on an immersion blender, through Freecycle. LOVE IT.

Thanks for playing this week. :-)

Roxanne said...

Thanks for the tip about Freecycle. I'll have to go check that out.

I thought your Chicken Tikki Masala for the My Kitchen, My World entree looked really good.