Prep 10 mins Wait 30 mins Cook 20 mins Eat 60 mins
How good was our Foods of India Cooking Class? As I was unpacking near midnight, my sweetie who just arrived home said he’d like to taste our creations, but that he wasn’t that hungry. Two plates of food later, he declared that this was the most amazing Indian food he had ever tasted!
Since the class, I have made the Chicken Curry with Rice Pilauf several times. I can’t get enough. The aroma takes me right back to the class, which was so magical.
We started by sipping Mango Lassis with some relaxing Indian music in the background to get us in the mood. Then the team of Lynda and Iris fed us Baingan Ka Bharta (Indian for Eggplant Dip). Our guest Chef, Zenith instructed us on all the Indian spices she uses in her cooking.
The spices are what really make Indian food special and the aromas filling the hall at our Foods of India cooking class was intoxicating! Guest Chef, Zenith shared some of her secrets.
1. The key is in roasting the spices…in canola oil. Don’t use olive oil as the flavor is too strong.
2. Do roast spices in the oil before adding in other ingredients.
3. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Zenith is not a recipe type of cook and she believes that you should use the ingredients that are fresh at hand. Change up the vegetables in the Rice Pilauf to what you have in your crisper or freezer.
4. Taste the food to make sure the spices are balanced and there is enough salt to bring out the flavors of the ingredients, particularly in the Dhal. The lentils soak up all the flavors and really need salt to balance, so don’t leave it out. Also there is no salt in the paneer cheese used in the Saag Paneer, so it is important to add salt to bring out all the flavors. Zenith is continually tweaking her dishes by tasting and adding more spices as she goes. Her tolerance for heat is greater than mine and it may be different for you or your guests, so adjust accordingly.
5. Indian food is fairly healthy as it incorporates mostly vegetables and legumes – the dhals. If you want Fresh Food in a Flash, Indian food is ideal. Just learn the basics and you can get something on the table quickly when you get home from a busy day. Yes there are a lot of spices, but don’t be tempted to use a mix. The combining of the individual spices is what will make a difference in Indian cooking.
Zenith is a real treasure and it was a pleasure to have her in class to help us all understand better the Foods of India.
- 1 pound chicken breasts — boned and skinned, cut into 1″ pieces
- salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp chili powder, or to taste
- 2 Tbs canola oil
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 Tbs ginger root, minced
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin, ground
- 1 tsp coriander, ground
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1/2 cup coconut milk or plain yogurt
1. Cut chicken into pieces. Season with salt and chili powder – let sit 1/2 hour
2. In skillet, heat canola oil on medium heat, add cumin seeds. When they start to sputter, add onions. Cook until translucent, then add chicken pieces. Cook chicken a few minutes until sealed.
3. Add garlic and ginger, cook 3 minutes and then add all remaining spices. Add tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, stirring. Now add in coconut milk and 1/2 cup water. Stir, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve with steamed basmati rice.
Servings: 6; Calories Per Serving 185
Preparation Time: 15 mins; Inactive Time 30 mins; Total Time 60 mins.