Indian at home: Chicken Vindaloo

Indian at home.
Indian at home.

Sadly, our town is lacking in good Indian cuisine. Which means, this fall J and I have decided to figure out how to make it at home. We’ll tackle naan soon, especially since we discovered how easy the main dishes can be. We tried Chicken Vindaloo from our new favorite site rasamalaysia.com. The directions were easy to follow, easier than finding all the ingredients! With a few modifications, we had a meal that rivaled any local Indian restaurant.

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, cut up into 8 pieces and skin removed (We used about 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts because that’s what we had on hand)
1 onion, chopped (we used a large yellow onion)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 tsp each Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons oil (we used olive)

Spice Blend:
1/2 cup vinegar (white)
4-5 dried red Chile peppers (we used dried, whole red chilis)
4 cloves (we used ground)
8 garlic cloves, skin removed (we used minced about 2 tablespoons)
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions:
Add vinegar and soak all the ingredients needed for the spice blend for 15-20 minutes. Then blend these into a fine paste using a blender. (we used the food processor and with the added vinegar, this turned very runny. Next time, we’ll remove the spices from the vinegar and then re-add it at the end). Add the spice mixture paste to the chicken and toss well to evenly coat all the chicken pieces. Let the chicken marinate for 4 to 6 hours. In a large wok heat the oil on medium heat. Add the marinated chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Stirring often. Add the chopped onions, tomato paste, salt and pepper to the chicken. Give everything a good stir. Finally add 1/2 cup of water (we omitted this step since it was already pretty runny), cover the lid of the skillet and lower the heat to low. Let the chicken simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes or till well done and the oil start to ooze from the curry. If you prefer little thinner gravy add water as need and let it simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes before serving. Like the original author, we prefer the gravy to be thick and sticking to the meat pieces. Serve immediately over basmati rice.

My Opinion:
The sauce was a little runny for our tastes and it wasn’t quite as spicy as we like our vindaloo. Next time, we’ll use the spice blend as a run without the vinegar and add it at the end.

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Tom Yum Noodle Soup

Tom Yum Noodle Soup
Or as a dear friend of mine calls this, sick soup. It’s perfect when allergies are high or a cold is settling in. We like ours a bit on the hot and sour side, so if you don’t feel the same way, make sure you adjust the spices. A good rule of thumb is you can add spice easier than you can take it away. Like the last recipe, J found the base on RasaMalaysia.com and with a few modifications, it is thisclose to our favorite Thai restaurant in town. If only we could get our hands on fresh ingredients…

Ingredients:
1 roll packaged soba noodles (We used rice noodles because we had a hard time finding soba noodles)
1 1/4 cups water
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, pounded and bruised (we finally found dried lemongrass from Thai Kitchen at our local grocer. If only we could find fresh…)
5-6 kaffir lime leaves, bruised (just like with the lemongrass, we could only find these dried from Thai Kitchen, but dried is better than none!)
4-5 slices fresh galangal (if you aren’t already noticing a trend, this is also only available in our area dried from Thai Kitchen, if you can’t find anything fresh ginger root will do in a pinch)
1/2 small tomato, cut into 3 to 4 wedges
6 medium-sized shrimp, shelled and deveined (we just used a whole bag of frozen, shelled, deveined ready to use. But we like shrimp)
one can straw mushrooms pieces (pieces were the only kind available)
1 1/2 tablespoons Nam Prik Pao (Thai roasted chili paste, we couldn’t find this so we just used Thai chili paste, it was a bit sweeter than we expected)
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce (we ended up using at least 1 and 1/2 tablespoons)
3 dashes chili powder (we used three squirts of Sriracha sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
Cilantro leaves, for garnishing

Directions:
Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water and set aside. At the same time, bring the 1 1/4 cups water to boil in another small pot. Add in all the aromatics, follow by the shrimp, mushrooms and Thai chili paste.

Tom Yum Noodle Soup

Keep boiling until the shrimp is cooked through. Add the fish sauce and Sriracha. Turn off the heat, add in the lime juice. Stir to combine well. We opted to remove the lemongrass stalks and the kaffir lime leaves because they didn’t taste very good on their own. We added the cooked noodles and stirred to combine.

Tom Yum Noodle Soup

Top with some cilantro leaves and serve immediately.

My opinion:
This was one of the fastest dinners we’ve made in a long time. I’m sure if we had let it simmer a little longer, the flavors would have been even better, but we were hungry. Next time, we will add more vegetables like zucchini and onions. I was surprised at how much the noodles absorbed the broth, which I think is the best part. By the time we got around to a second bowl, there wasn’t a drop of broth left. To remedy this, we plan to add at least a cup  more water at the beginning.