Tag Archives: gluten-free indian

Daring Cooks: Sri Lankan Beef Curry and Carrots with Tropical Flavors

Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.

I won’t go too much into Appam, as I didn’t make it. Right now, I am not eating grains or yeast, so I figured making a yeasted rice flatbread wasn’t in the cards. However, if you want to read about how to make these (and they look like the perfect accompaniment to a saucy curry!), check them out over at Mary Mary Culinary.

I did, however, jump right on some Sri Lankan curry! I love curries made with coconut milk. Spices + coconut milk = comfort food. (I’ve already mentioned this in my previous post about a Thai-inspired curry, but it’s really true!) This curry was different than most I’ve made; it used fresh curry leaves and tamarind pulp. Lucky for me, there is an Indian grocery not far from our house, and I was able to pick up the necessary ingredients.

As this curry simmered on the stove, the intoxicating aroma of spices filled the house. I could hardly wait until it was ready. I served it with spaghetti squash for me, brown rice for the hubby, and some amazing carrots with lime, peppers, shallots, and cilantro that was bright, fresh, and lightened up the heavier curry. It was a lovely meal. Next time, I think I might opt for a lower temperature when cooking the meat, and perhaps swap out the beef for a lamb or goat. The London Broil I used was a bit too lean, and ended up a tad dry for the dish. However, the flavors were sensuous and won me over.

Sri Lankan Beef Curry, adapted from Mangoes & Curry Leaves

1 lb boneless beef (I used London Broil)

1 T coconut oil

10 fresh or frozen curry leaves

1 green cayenne chili, finely chopped

generous 1 c  finely chopped onion

1 t turmeric

1 t salt

½ c coconut milk

1 T tamarind pulp (I had a jarred tamarind pulp with no seeds)

3 c water

1 T arrowroot powder

Dry Spice Mixture:

1 T coriander seeds

1 t cumin seeds

one 1-inch piece cinnamon or cassia stick

seeds from 2 pods of green cardamom

1. Cut the beef into ½ inch cubes. Set aside.

2. In a small heavy skillet, roast the dry spice mixture over medium to medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously, until it smells amazing!

3. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and grind/pound to a powder. Set aside.

4. In a large, wide pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the curry leaves, green chile, onion and turmeric and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the meat and salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so all surfaces of the meat get browned.

5. Add the reserved spice mixture and the coconut milk and stir to coat the meat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6.  Add the tamarind pulp to the 2 cups of water. Whisk in the arrowroot powder.

7. Add the tamarind/water mixture to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered at a strong simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the flavors are well blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot.

Carrots with Tropical Flavors, adapted from Mangoes & Curry Leaves

1 lb carrots, about 5 medium, peeled

1 T coconut oil

about 8 fresh curry leaves

2 T minced seeded green cayenne chiles

3 T minced shallots

2 t rice vinegar (I used lime juice)

1 t salt

¼ t honey

½ c coconut milk

¼ c water

coarse salt, optional

cilantro (coriander) leaves to garnish

1. Julienne or coarsely grate the carrots. Set aside.

2. Place a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then add half of the curry leaves, the chiles and the shallots. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring.

3. Add the carrots, stir, and add the vinegar/lime juice, salt, honey and mix well. Increase the heat and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until they give off a bit of liquid.

4. Add the water and half of the coconut milk and bring to a fast boil. Stir, cover tightly and cook until just tender, 5 minutes or so, depending on size. Check to ensure the liquid has not boiled away and add a little more water if it is almost dry.

5. Add the remaining coconut milk and curry leaves. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with coarse salt, if desired, and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

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Filed under Beef, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetables

My Version of Kerala Chicken Curry

When it’s cold out, I love warming dishes. Don’t we all? Comfort food is definitely in order when the wind is howling and the mercury is falling. Mention comfort foods, and a lot of people imagine a lot of different things. Macaroni and cheese, lasagna, or pizza, perhaps? My husband would probably list chili or enchiladas as some of his comfort foods. Me? When it’s cold outside, I love Indian spices. Specifically, I love curries.

A side note to those of you not familiar with curries – curry is not a spice. Curry is not a “flavor” – there is not a specific ingredient that makes something a “curry”. What is curry, then? “Curry” is the generic term Westerners give to a variety of spiced dishes – most of which originate from India and Southeast Asia. (There are also curries in the Caribbean, South Africa, and Ethiopia, as well as other areas.) A “curry” can be wet (with a liquid sauce) or dry (without). In my mind, a curry is very often just a stew of some sort – a highly flavorful sauce that envelops any number of ingredients. There are literally thousands of ways that a curry dish can be made, and even if a dish is comprised of the same main ingredients, the mixture of spices can be so different that each curry is unique. I can’t choose a favorite, honestly. I am not an expert, and I love exploring all of the blends of spices and flavors that make up such amazing cuisine. I based this dish on the cuisine of Kerala, a state in Southern India. Kerala cuisine frequently features coconut milk, as well as cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, and more. What I love about South Indian cuisines is that a) there is usually a good amount of heat in the spice, and b) a great many are naturally gluten and dairy-free!

I did use garam masala in order to shorten my spice list in this recipe. Garam masala is a spice blend used quite frequently in our household, and I love how it gives such a full flavor and warmth to everything it seasons. I also used Kashmiri chili powder. This is not to be confused with the ordinary, everyday chili powder that is likely in your spice cabinet. Kashmiri chili powder is much hotter. If you’re heat-averse, I suggest you dial down the measurement of this powder and add more as you see fit. I did make this dish pretty spicy, so don’t say I didn’t warn you! You can find these spices in many grocery stores, although I suggest visiting an Indian grocery if you have one nearby. The spices are fresher and much less expensive. I love making special trips to the grocery near me – they often have great deals on other wonderful ingredients, many times fresher than what you can find in the supermarkets. If you don’t have such a grocery near you, you can always order online at Penzey’s or My Spice Sage, or any number of other online retailers.

I made this dish for the boys and my husband Saturday night. (Brittany was off on a belated birthday celebration with family) My husband and I adored it, going back for seconds. The boys, on the other hand, were not fans. I think perhaps I need to try a recipe that is a bit more familiar to their taste buds – after all, when they’re not at our house, they’re more likely to eat spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, tacos, burgers, hot dogs, pizza…the same stuff most American teenagers eat. (I assumed since there were no chunks of offending vegetables in the curry, that this might be an easier win, but I suppose not.) I plan on continuing to expose them to new flavors, of course, but I also realize that I was likely not much different than they are at that age – I filled up on Taco Bell when I was in high school, and one of my favorite snacks (in the morning at school, no less!) was Cheetos with a Dr. Pepper. If my tastes can expand and improve, I have hope that they will one day embrace a great many cuisines and choose a healthy, balanced diet. That being said, my husband and I weren’t all that sorry that there was more left over for us!

Kerala Chicken Curry

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch dice

1 t coriander powder

1 1 1/2 t Kashmiri chili powder

1/2 t turmeric powder

pinch ground cloves

1/4 t dry mustard

1/2 t ground black pepper

1/2 t kosher salt

1 c onion, roughly chopped

3 Thai red bird chiles, stemmed (or you can substitute 1-2 serrano chiles if the Thai chiles are hard to find)

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled

2 T tomato paste

2 t grapeseed oil or ghee

2 bay leaves

1 t garam masala

1 T cilantro, chopped (can substitute a few fresh curry leaves) plus additional for garnish

1 c coconut milk

1/2 c water

Salt to taste

Toss chicken pieces in coriander, chili powder, turmeric, cloves, mustard, pepper and salt. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes. Place onion, chiles, ginger, and garlic in a food processor. Blend until it is a paste. Add the tomato paste and pulse once or twice more to blend.

Add oil to a large saute pan and heat to medium heat. Add onion mixture and cook, stirring often, until paste dries somewhat and onion is softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the bay leaves and garam masala and saute another 30 seconds. Add the chicken and turn heat to medium-high. Fry chicken until nearly cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 4-5 minutes. Add the cilantro, coconut milk, and water and stir. Bring to boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, giving it a stir once in a while. Taste and adjust salt as needed, and garnish with more cilantro. Serve over steamed basmati rice.

Makes 4 servings.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy

Daring Cooks: Nut Butters (Chicken with Curried Almond Sauce)

This month’s Daring Cooks challenge was one I really could embrace – making and cooking with nut butters! The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

I’ve made a nut butter once or twice before, but before this challenge, I never made much effort to make it a regular part of my routine. After this challenge, I am a changed woman. I was so happy with my nut butters (I made almond butter and peanut butter) that I not only made the required recipe for the challenge, but I also made cookies and even ice cream – both recipes I will share soon. Our daughter Brittany even made a special request for more peanut butter, saying that it was better than any of the store brands. Anytime the kids request homemade food over store-bought, that’s one for the “win” column!

I started with almond butter so that I could make one of the required recipes for the challenge – Chicken with Curried Almond Sauce. Instead of simply roasting almonds for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven (as was suggested), I instead soaked the almonds overnight in a brine and then roasted in a 175 degree oven for nearly 24 hours. (This is the method used in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for crispy nuts. The soaking is supposed to make the nuts easier to digest. I found that this roasting method made some of the most flavorful nuts I’ve ever had.) 

To make nut butter, regardless of the type of nut, the process is essentially the same. First, pour the nuts into a bowl of a food processor. Grind the nuts until they form a paste or a butter. At first it will turn powdery or grainy. Keep processing, and it will eventually form a ball and start to “clump” to one side of the bowl. Then, as you continue processing, the nuts will finally start to release oils, and it will begin to really look like nut butter. (The total time required depends on the fat content of the nut you’re using. You have to be patient – stopping early will only result in grainy, not-quite-nut-butter.) If you’re using a “drier” nut, once it begins to turn into nut butter, you can thin it with a bit of neutral oil or an oil from the same type of nut (for example, peanut oil for peanut butter, almond oil for almond butter, etc. ). I used a bit of pecan oil in my nut butter, since I had it on hand. Use some restraint in adding oil though – you don’t want to end up with too much oil! Add a tiny bit at a time. Once this has been incorporated, then you can salt, if desired, and/or sweeten as desired, using a bit of sugar, honey, or agave nectar (what I used).

That’s it – you have nut butter! Of course, this would probably store best in the refrigerator and will likely need stirring before use. If you’re going to use it immediately for a recipe, then of course – get right to it!

This chicken recipe was delicious – something my husband and I both loved (and went back for seconds!). I followed the recipe pretty closely, only substituting olive oil for the butter, and using homemade cashew milk (I found a great recipe at Elana’s Pantry) instead of the milk. The sauce was so creamy, comforting, and satisfying. This will definitely be a repeat dish for us. I also loved that it was something I could make on a weeknight.

I’m so thankful for this challenge – I learned that it’s not hard at all to make nut butters. No more store-bought nut butters for us!

Chicken with Curried Almond Sauce, adapted from Food Network

Recipe notes: Substitute the protein of your choice for the chicken. This is a smooth sauce, so the onion is removed before serving. If you prefer, dice the onion and leave it in the sauce or substitute a bit of onion powder.

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
4 (6 oz / 170 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
Salt to taste

Spice Blend:
1.5 tablespoons (20 ml) garam masala seasoning
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) black pepper

Sauce:
4 tablespoons (60 ml) butter (I used olive oil)
1 large onion, cut in half pole to pole
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce/425 g) can tomato sauce
⅓ cup (80 ml) almond butter
⅓ cup (80 ml) milk (I used cashew milk)
½ to ¾ cup (120 to 180 ml) chicken broth or water, more as needed
1 cup (240 ml) frozen peas (optional)

Hot basmati rice for serving (I served with short-grain brown rice)
Chopped parsley (optional garnish)
Sliced almonds (optional garnish)

Directions:

  1. Cook the chicken. If desired, pound chicken to ¼ inch (6 mm) thickness to promote even cooking. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken; sauté 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Cook the chicken in 2 batches, adding more oil if needed for second batch. Dice chicken into bite-sized pieces; set aside on clean plate and keep warm.
  2. Prepare spice blend. Stir garam masala, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter (or add the oil) in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for several minutes to infuse the butter with onion flavor. Keep the heat low to avoid burning the butter; a little color is fine. Add the spice blend and garlic and cook for 1 minute or till fragrant, stirring constantly. Add the tomato sauce, stir well, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Whisk in almond butter and milk (or cashew milk) until thoroughly combined with tomato sauce. The almond butter is thick so it takes a while to make a smooth sauce. Return to simmer. Add broth (or water) to sauce to reach desired consistency; return to simmer. Add more broth (or water) as needed to thin sauce as desired.
  4. Remove onion from sauce and discard. Stir frozen peas (if using) into sauce. Transfer sliced chicken to sauce. Simmer gently for a few minutes until peas and chicken are heated through.
  5. Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Garnish with chopped parsley and/or sliced almonds if desired.

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Filed under Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy

Red Chile Chicken, Garlic, and Basil Curry

One of my New Year’s resolutions (for both 2009 and 2010) was to learn more about Indian cuisine. Of course, that is a lofty goal – there are nearly as many variations on Indian cuisine as there are people in India! But in an effort to start somewhere, I looked to Monica Bhide. A while back, I ordered a copy of her book, Modern Spice. I immediately fell in love with the book. Monica shares stories surrounding many of her dishes – stories ranging from her childhood to enjoyable times with family and friends. And the recipes? Astounding. No old-fashioned Indian fare here. Instead, she shares recipes for various cocktails (Guava Bellini, anyone?) and a snack I absolutely must try: Cilantro-Lemon Corn Pops (popcorn spiced with onion, lemon, peanuts, and chile powder), not to mention so many other amazing recipes that it took me a while to decide which to try first. I finally settled on a simple, speedy chicken dish. Red Chile, Garlic, and Basil Chicken was a quick stir-fry that boasted some clean, bold, bright flavors. I opted to make it a curry by adding a bit of coconut milk.

This dish is by no means extravagant. As you can see, it doesn’t take a long list of hard-to-find ingredients. The red chiles I used were dried red chiles I found at an Asian market, but if you don’t have those available, you could use about a 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red chile pepper. The flavors of this dish were so deep, cheery and comforting, however, that it tasted as though it had to be difficult to make. (Those are my favorite kinds of meals!) I loved it, and I can’t wait to make something else from Monica’s book!

Red Chile Chicken, Garlic and Basil Curry, adapted from Modern Spice

1 T olive oil

4 medium shallots, sliced

4 garlic cloves, sliced

3-4 dried red chiles, roughly pounded

scant 1/2 t ground turmeric

1/4 t kosher salt

1 lb ground chicken (preferably dark meat)

1/3 c lite coconut milk

7-8 basil leaves

In a large lidded skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes until the garlic begins to change color. Add the chiles, turmeric, and salt. Saute for 1 minute. Add the chicken and saute for about 5 minutes. Then add the coconut milk, cover, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until chicken is done.

Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Add the basil leaves and stir in. Remove from heat and serve hot. Serve with steamed basmati rice.

Serves 3-4.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy

Chicken Curry

chicken curry 030

In the middle of the day last Thursday, I realized that the dinner I had planned to make was not going to work without a trip to the store. I had already used some of the key ingredients to make it earlier in the week. (I hate when this happens. I write down “cilantro” on the grocery list, not remembering that I need to purchase enough for two dishes, and then I come home with just a single bunch, screwing myself out of the second dish. I only had a smidgen left. So much for planning meals out for the week.) I did not have the desire to go to the store, and I didn’t have the time or the creativity to consider creating something out of the available pantry ingredients at home. I was headed down the road towards a) frozen gluten-free pizza, or b) take-out. Neither of which sounded like a winner.

And then I receive an email. Actually, two emails, from my wonderful grandmother. (Yes, that grandmother.) She was looking through a magazine and found two recipes she thought I would like to try. One was a flourless almond torte, (which I will have to make soon!) and the other? A chicken curry. I looked through the recipe, and realized I had all of the ingredients on hand. It looked as though it was a quick dish to throw together too…an added bonus on a weeknight.

This recipe just goes to show you that you don’t always have to spend hours in the kitchen, or have a long list of ingredients and complicated steps to make a delicious dish. This curry was bright, with a good amount of heat to it (but not too much!). The flavors of the masala made this dish feel as though it was a comfort dish I’d turn to time and time again, without the heavy, calorie-laden sauces that accompany most “comfort dishes.”

A big thanks to Grandma, as she saved the day!

Adapted from Guideposts:

2 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 t masala (recipe follows)

1 t fresh ginger, grated

2 t fresh garlic, grated

1 small onion, diced

4 T olive oil

salt, to taste

1 small tomato, chopped

1 c frozen peas

A few sprigs of cilantro leaves

Combine chicken, masala, ginger, garlic, and onion in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add salt. Mix well, making sure chicken is fully coated. Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

Over medium heat, warm the remaining oil in a large skillet. Add the marinated chicken and cover skillet. After about 10 minutes, stir chicken, and add tomato and peas. Allow ingredients to simmer over medium heat until fully cooked, 5-10 minutes more (depends on the size of your chicken pieces).

Serve over steamed Basmati rice and garnish with cilantro leaves. Serves 4.

For the masala:

1 1/2 t cayenne pepper

1 T paprika

1/4 t cumin

1/4 t ground coriander

1/4 fennel seed, crushed or ground

1/4 t garam masala

1/4 t turmeric

Combine all spices thoroughly. Store in a jar for up to three months.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Rice