Whenever I get the opportunity to go out for Indian food, I order chicken tikka masala and aloo gobi. From the very first bite, my whole self is suffused with the most incredible sense of well-being. Must be something in the combination of spices, or maybe it’s one spice in particular, who knows: whatever it is, I think it affects me sort of the way chocolate does. Massive endorphin rush? Scott laughs because I shovel in the food and say, “I’m so happy!” after every bite.
So last week I decided to try my own hand at these favorites. I found a video tutorial for chicken tikka masala, and a friend sent me an excellent recipe for naan. I do believe these dishes will become regulars in my kitchen. Today I want to give aloo gobi a try. I’ve googled a recipe, but if you have a favorite—or pointers—I’d welcome the advice.
My cookery notes (recording them here because this is the easiest place for me to find things later):
Chicken Tikka Masala
• I couldn’t find cardamom pods in the grocery store, so I omitted those from the first step. (You season the oil with the cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick—which I also omitted—and remove those things before sauteeing your onions.)
• I forgot to defrost the chicken the night before, so I just took it out in the morning and converted the recipe to a slow-cooker dish. After Step 5 (you have already sauteed the onions, added the spices, tomato, and water, and cooked the sauce for a few minutes), I transferred everything to the crock pot. The chicken had thawed enough for me to cut it into cubes—it’s actually easier to cut when it’s a little frozen—so I just plopped it into the sauce and set it on high for an hour, then low for about three hours. I added a little extra water to the sauce so it wouldn’t cook down too much. This worked fine, and freed me up to fry the naan at dinnertime.
• The recipe calls for adding plain yogurt (amount vague) or coconut milk just before serving. I used plain yogurt, about 3/4 cup—had no idea how much to add. We would like to try coconut milk next time, but the yogurt was fine.
• Garam Masala question. I bought a jar at Henry’s: Spice Hunter brand salt-free garam masala blend. The final dish seemed a little heavy on cloves (to me; Scott didn’t think so) and the flavor wasn’t quite what I’ve experienced at Indian restaurants. I assume there is some variation among different garam masala blends, just like one jar of Cajun seasoning never tastes exactly like another. Anyone got a recommendation for a blend that isn’t quite so dominated by the cloves?
Despite the ubercloviness, the final dish was delectable. Definitely a shovel-in-the-mouth-I’m-so-happy meal.
UPDATED! How much do I love Twitter? I tweeted a request for a good aloo gobi recipe, and @KrisBordessa suggested I ask @mbhide, aka Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice. I added a second question about garam masala spice blends, and Monica replied with a link to this piece in the Washington Post about a garam masala taste test she took part in. (Scroll down a bit.) So very cool.
• This recipe produced some of the best naan I have ever tasted—and that’s in spite of my rookie hamhandedness. So flavorful, slightly sweet. The recipe called for 1/4 cup sugar, but I was afraid it would be too sweet, so I cut that a bit—I used an 1/8 cup and then a little more (maybe a third of the 1/8th cup measure; I’ll let you work out the math on that). 😉
• I should have read the comments below the recipe before I started. There are some helpful tips there. Several people advised to cut the flour to 3 1/2 cups, and I wish I’d seen that earlier! I should have added it more gradually than I did. I didn’t need much more than 3 1/4 cups, I think.
• I did add the minced garlic—YUM.
• The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of salt. This seemed rather high, so I halved it.
• I cooked on my cast iron grill pan (thanks, Mom), the side with the grill lines. It worked a treat. I think I need to make my dough balls a bit bigger this time—my naan came out more the size of silver dollar pancakes than the dinner-plate size I’ve always seen. Then again, the smaller size was great for my kids. The little ones would rather have their ownty-downty pieces than half a big one.
• We started mixing up the dough around 2pm, which was plenty of time for two risings before 5pm when I was ready to start grilling it.
Which means it’s almost time to move kitchenward for today’s dough-mixing.