September 23, 2010

Our First Indian Cooking Adventure

I've written previously about how I got back into cooking in a big way fairly recently, after finding an Indian cookbook I really liked and deciding to make some of the recipes from that book.  After a couple days spent locating an Indian grocery, arriving at a menu plan and doing the necessary shopping for ingredients, our current cooking adventure officially started on Saturday, July 24 of this year.  I'd decided on several recipes I wanted to prepare for lunch and dinner on July 24 and for dinner on July 25 and 26. 

The picture above shows the first meal I prepared.  The main dishes consist of Tandoori-Style Chicken Bites (skewers of chicken marinated in a spicy yogurt sauce and grilled) and Bhuna Dal (a type of lentil soup).   The meal also featured some vegetable samosas and a tamarind chutney purchased at the Indian grocery, and a Mint and Yogurt Chutney I made (they are in the little bowls at the lower left of the picture; the Mint and Yogurt Chutney is the one that is cut off at the edge of the picture). 

All the dishes turned out great.  I'm glad, because if that first effort had turned out to be a dud, it probably would have dampened my enthusiasm, and possibly kept me from becoming reinvigorated about cooking, which in turn would have robbed me of the great time I've been having cooking lately.
Over the next couple days I made several other dishes, including Chicken Dhansak, Chicken Tikka Masala (using the leftover Tandoori-Style Chicken), Malabar Shrimp Curry, Aloo Gobhi (spiced, stir-fried potatoes and cauliflower), Mattar Paneer (a curry with peas and paneeer cheese), Lashuni Rai Beans (stir fried green beans), Naan and Pooris breads, an Indian Rice Pudding and Narilal Laddoo (more or less an Indian version of coconut macaroons).  Some of these turned out better than others.  The Naan was a particular disappointment - flat and stiff - but I've since found some much better Naan recipes, not to mention some pretty good commercial versions.  The Chicken Tikka Masala was also disappointing (the amount of tomato called for in the recipe resulted in a gravy that was more like spaghetti sauce than the rich, creamy sauce typical for that dish), but I've since found and made much better versions.  All in all, though, that first batch of stuff was pretty good, and the dishes in the photo, the Pooris bread, the Rice Pudding and the Aloo Gobhi all turned out excellent.

Since then I've done a lot more Indian cooking, and as Juli started getting a little tired of Indian, I've branched out to cook lots of other sorts of dishes, but I keep coming back to Indian - I'm planning to cook at least one Indian dish this weekend - and I expect it will continue to be one of my go-to cuisines.

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