Friday, March 16, 2007

Scrumptious Pakistani/Indian Something-or-Other

I don’t know what to call this dish, and I don’t want to make something up for fear that a Pakistani who knows better will stumble across it and leave a critical comment about how I butchered a wonderful standard by crossbreeding it with others. But I didn’t butcher it! It’s delicious and has joined the permanent rotation of meals in our house. I like it best of the Pakistani meals I make. Anyway, it’s chicken in a masala sauce, served with the everpresent naan and basmati—it’s kind of a cross between butter chicken masala (thanks to a yummy recipe from Sandy), chicken bhuna, and the buriyani recipe I use, but it’s none of those exactly.

Mix the following in a large bowl:

1 and ¼ cups plain yogurt

1 tablespoon garlic paste (finely chop/crush about 4-5 garlic cloves)

1 tablespoon ginger paste (do the same to some ginger root)

¾ tsp. hot chilli powder or cayenne powder, or to taste

¼ tsp. ground cloves

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon garam masala (a spice blend found in most grocery stores, or make your own blend from the handful of internet recipes out there)

½ tsp. tumeric powder

1 tsp. dried cilantro leaves (use a few tablespoons of fresh in summertime)

½ tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. cardamom powder (very expensive unless you can find it, like I do, at a place like Sweeney’s Meat Market five minutes across the Susquehanna River. Tone’s brand, ground cardamom, .45 oz, for $1.20. Woohoo!)

a pinch of black pepper

salt, to taste

* The spices aren’t always these exact measurements. I sometimes increase the sweet spices and decrease the hot spices, or vice versa.

Add a large can or two of diced tomatoes (I use tomatoes I canned last summer, almost a quart jar—about 3 cups or 24 oz)

Stir together until blended and then add 4-8 skinless (and boneless, if desired) chicken pieces (eight if using mixed parts; four if using breast halves). Make a few cuts in the chicken and stir to coat. Refrigerate for four hours or overnight.

Place in an ovenproof dish (I use a 13X9 glass pan) and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until chicken is fully cooked. My oven runs hot, so it only takes about 30-45 minutes for boneless, skinless breasts, and a bit more when I cut up a whole chicken and leave the bone in.

While chicken is baking, soak and cook the basmati rice (about 2 cups dry) and prepare the naan. Serve over rice with hot naan.

Makes enough for yummy leftovers on the following morning

Blueberry Coffee Cake

My friend Mary from church made this delicious coffee cake one day and was kind enough to share the recipe with me. I used frozen blueberries from last summer, but either fresh or frozen can be used. It’s a dense, rich cake with a crunchy topping and chock full of berries. I much prefer it cold to hot, as do the other taste-testers here, so make it the night before and eat it in the morning. This allows the topping to harden and the flavors to meld.

2 cups unsifted flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

¼ cup butter (1/2 stick)

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

½ cup milk

2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used 2 ½ cups berries)

½ cup light brown sugar

½ cups chopped nuts, optional

2 tsp. cinnamon

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. flour

Cream butter and sugar; beat in egg. Add flour mixture and milk. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in blueberries carefully. Turn into greased angel-food pan (or Bundt, or 8-inch square). Combine brown sugar, walnuts (if desired), cinnamon, butter, and flour, and spread over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes. If top browns too quickly, tent loosely with foil.