I am not too fond of making creamy, Indian restaurant like curries at home except for some get togethers.Not that I dislike eating them, but the I know that my head will start spinning at the sight of measuring out cashew pastes and heavy creams which make their way into these dishes.There is a saying in Hindi which translates to that when a pigeon is about to be attached by a cat, it closes its eyes and sits thinking that it will be saved.When eating at restaurants,I am like that pigeon who chooses to shun away thoughts of cups of cream which goes into butter chicken & korma preparations.
Anyhow, thanks to Indian restaurants in Vegas, I did make a restaurant like meal for both of us on New Year.If some day,world’s best business models & strategy makers will be evaluated, I m sure the owners of Indian restaurants in Las Vegas will be few of the last ones in the queue..Why? Because they do not how to do it? Do what? Business.
On New Year’s eve, when even the most tiny restaurants of the world choose to remain open for extended hours,in a tourist city like Las Vegas, 2 out of 3 popular Indian restaurants near to strip that I know,pulled the shutters down at 9 p.m. after serving a buffet dinner.Why? I don’t Know.I don’t even care.Yes.The “normal” hours of these restaurants are till 10:30 night.But I don’t understand whose brilliant idea it was to close doors at 9 o’clock when people are ready to throng the eateries till midnight.
We settled for a chinese dinner on New Year’s Eve..not a bad deal but we wanted to eat Indian badly…you know when you get those cravings for restaurant like Indian food-creamy, nutty and full of calories on some special days. Next, day we dropped the idea to go and check the Indian restaurants again..who knows if after partying hard everyone would dozing off at noon.I was in no mood for chinese or italian either.
So I settles to make the restaurant like food at home.P loves those creamy gravies and I personally like “kulcha“-quite similar to naan but a different bread made without yeast and usually stuffed with potatoes or onions or paneer[indian cottage cheese] or a combo of all. Traditionally made in a tandoor, at home it can be made under a broiler or really quick on a skillet.I chose skillet often ..coz the taste is almost the same.Sulking in front of the T.V. few nights before,I watched Bobby Flay’s throw down where he made “chicken tikka masala” , instantly I knew I had to try out this national dish of Britain.And P’s meal is not a meal if it is left unpaired with cumin rice. So the “royal” lunch was served on 1st Jan in my house followed by long hours of siesta..the true brit way.
Chicken Tikka Masala [Adapted from bbcgoodfood]
Ingredients: For the tikka
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
- 1 tsp fresh root ginger,grated
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- 2 tsp red chilli powder [adjust to taste]
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp each of ground nutmeg & cinnamon
- 1/2 cup thick plain hung yogurt
- 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
For the Masala
- 3 tbsp melted ghee [clarified butter] or canola oil
- 1/2 cup fresh tomato puree [or canned tomatoes]
- 1″ fresh ginger root, grated
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 dry red chillies
- 3 cloves
- 4 green cardamoms cracked open
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp ground coriander powder
- 2 tsp dry fenugreek leaves [kasuri methi]
- 2 tbsp chilli powder [adjust to taste]
- 4 tbsp heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water
- Salt to taste
How I did it
- Mix together the chicken along with all the ingredients below the “tikka” in a large, non-metallic dish. Cover with a cling film and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours or overnight preferably.
- Making the Tikka : Remove the chicken from the marinade and thread on wooden skewers.Dont discard the marinade.You can use your oven, broiler or grill to cook the chicken.I used my grill pan over stove top.Cook the chicken cubes turning frequently, for 5-8 minutes until tender. Reserve the drippings. TIP: If using wooden skewers, you need to soak them in water for atleast 1 hour to avoid them burning over the grill or in oven.
- Making the Masala:Heat the ghee or canola oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the bay leaves,cloves,cardamoms and dry red chillies to the ghee when heated.Next add the ginger & garlic and fry over a low heat, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes until soft but not browned. Next add the tomato puree along with all the red chilli and coriander powder and saute on low heat till you see oil separating on the sides of the pan.
- At this point add the chicken pieces from the skewers,garam masala, kasuri methi,water, leftover marinade,salt and drippings to the pan and let simmer for atleast 15 minutes on low heat.
- Next, add the sugar & heavy cream and let simmer[not boil] on low heat for at least 8-10 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro & serve.
For the Kulcha:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder [use aluminium free]
- pinch of baking Soda
- 3/4 cup buttermilk [or as required for kneading the dough]
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter [or canola oil] [Butter gives great flavor]
For the Stuffing:
- 4 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
- 1 green chill, thinly sliced [adjust to taste]
- 1/2 tsp grated ginger
- 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 2 tbsp fine chopped cilantro
- 3/4 cup fine crumbled/grated paneer [Easily Available in Indian stores]
- a pinch salt [take care to check the salt in dough first]
How I did it :
- Place all the dry ingredients for the dough in a bowl and combine well.
- Next add the melted unsalted butter and work it into the dough for about 5 minutes.
- Knead the dough slowly adding buttermilk to a smooth ball.
- Let it rest for at least 1 hour.
- Mix all the ingredients for the stuffing and set aside.Do not add salt to the stuffing until you are about to make kulchas.It will become watery.
- Making the Kulchas:Take a small ball of the dough and using a rolling-pin roll into a small circle. Make a smaller ball of the stuffing and put it on top of the dough circle and enclose the dough and pinch it. Flour the rolling-pin and the surface on which you will roll the ball thoroughly.Put the dough ball on the surface and press it down slightly.
- Roll the ball gently to about a 6″ circle and 1/4″ thick.Do not apply too much pressure while rolling else the stuffing will come out.
- Place the rolled kulcha on a medium hot greased girddle/skillet.Let it cook on one side.Flip & apply little oil on both sides to cook thoroughly.
- In the Oven: Set your oven to the broiler mode.When hot,lay the kulcha brushed with little oil on back of your cookie sheet, pizza stone or any flat baking dish.Put it below the broiler.Within 5-6 minutes, you will see small puffs on the surface of kulcha with little browing from sides inwards.This time of puffing will vary w.r.t. thickness of kulcha.
- Serve warm smothered with butter alongwith chicken tikka masala[recipe above]
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 1/4 cups water [or as per package instructions]
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp ghee/unsalted butter
- 3 tsp cumin seeds
Cook the washed basmati rice with the salted water.Let rest for 5 minutes.In a sauce pan, heat the ghee or unsalted butter and let the cumin seeds crackle in it.Mix the cumin ghee with cooked rice, fluffing the rice up with a fork.Serve warm.