I took a quick trip to Chicago last year to learn about Indian food, it was an incredible learning experience and left me with a new favorite cuisine. Not sure why I didn’t realize it before, it makes perfect sense- a lot of vegetarian dishes, no pork, cilantro and a ton of flavor, all things I love!
Being in the kitchen with 2 Indian Chefs for the morning, tasting and learning was a perfect way to understand the philosophy behind the cuisine. Talk about using a lot of seasoning- there is no dusting or sprinkling in Indian cuisine, it is more like straight up dumping. The more seasoning the better. The chefs tasted and layered the flavorful stews and sauces for thru the morning, before lunch was served, adding more and more from the bags of spices.
I was really amazed at the exuberant amount of seasoning they added to all the food, it reminded me of a Chef I worked with when I first started cooking who didn’t believe in the “standard olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic” marinate, but more pushed us to use heavily seasoned marinates and highly flavorful sauces. But these Indian chefs took that to a whole new level and I loved it- look at the amount of peppers prepped for one lunch- lol- crazy.
Needless to say, I have become a bit of a dabbler in Indian cuisine; recently I modified a Cooking Light recipe that caught my eye. I suppose curries are equivalently comforting to me as a beef stew to someone else.
- 1 cup brown basmati rice, aka, Popcorn Rice (you can also use standard basmati rice)
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- ¼ cup diced green pepper
- 1 cup ground chicken
- 2 teaspoons medium curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 (28-ounce) can unsalted crushed tomatoes
- 1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Cook rice according to package directions; drain.
2. While rice cooks, heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, peppers and ground chicken; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in curry and cumin; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in yogurt and salt. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve over rice.
We did manage to have some fun, tried a lot of great restaurants, local food, native micro brews and met a lot of friendly people! I even had one of my lifetime goals fulfilled… (see evidence below).
Oh, and one other thing I learned was Chicken Tikka Masala is commonly thought of as being from the Indian culture, but it was derived in England, where Indian food is very popular. I suppose it is similar to Southwest United States did to Mexican food- Tex Mex…
Being able to learn from expert chefs priceless, if you get the chance be sure to soak it in!