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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Hot and sour soup

homemade hot and sour soup

J grew up eating the decadent hot and sour soup at King Doh, authentic Peking and Szechuan cuisine. After several years of trial and error, we finally found a recipe that is really close to the original. To celebrate the Chinese New Year last night, we made a big pot.

Ingredients:
2 quarts chicken stock
2 ounces dried black mushrooms (we had trouble finding these and had the must success using fresh shiitake mushrooms)
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon red chili paste (in a pinch, we combined Thai chili oil, Sriracha sauce and Hoisin sauce to make a paste)
1 small can bamboo shoots
1 small can water chestnuts (you can buy them already sliced)
1 small can straw mushrooms
18 ounces firm tofu, drained and cubed
three small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons sesame oil
green onion, chopped (to garnish)

Directions:
If using dried mushrooms, reconstitute them in water according to package directions. Heat oil in wok or large pot. When the oil is hot, add ginger, chile paste and chicken, cook for about two-minute. Add bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and mushrooms, cook for about a minute. In a bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, salt, pepper and sugar and pour into wok. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes (don’t rush this. The simmering is what seals in the hot and sour flavors). Add tofu and cook another 3 to 5 minutes. Mix cornstarch and water and add to soup and cook until thickened (this will make the soup cloudy and thick, but don’t add too much cornstarch or it will gelatinize . Stir soup in one direction to get current going then add beaten egg, it will look feathery. Stir the soup brining the contents from the bottom to the top> Garnish soup with green onion and serve.

My Opinion:
Make sue you leave the soup on low for seconds. The second bowl is always better than the first. The only thing we might add in the future is some shrimp or an onion. The soup is even better the next day!

Here’s a photo of the King Doh version.
King Doh Hot and Sour Soup

Homemade Chick Fil A


Before the current big hullabaloo over this restaurant, J and I decided to figure out how to recreate our favorite chicken sandwich at home. Mostly because the nearest restaurant to us is more than an hour and a half away. This recipe is so close! With a bag of Oreda waffle fries, it’s almost like you’re there.

Ingredients:
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup Dill Pickle Juice (we bought the hamburger slices and just used the juice)
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 Egg
1/4 cup Milk
1/2 cup Flour
1 tablespoon Powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Celery salt
1/4 teaspoon Dried basil

Directions:
Wrap the chicken loosely between plastic wrap and pound gently with the flat side of a meat tenderizer until about 1/2 inch thick all around. Cut into four pieces, as even as possible. Marinate in the pickle juice and Tabasco Sauce for 30 minutes. Beat the egg with the milk in a bowl. Combine the flour, sugar, and spices in a zip lock bag. Dip the chicken pieces each into the egg on both sides, then place in the bag and shake. Heat the oil in a skillet (1/2 inch deep) to about 345-350, or use a deep fryer (that’s what we did). Remove the chicken from the flour mixture and tap off the excess. Place in the oil. Fry each cutlet for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through. If using a fryer, it takes about 5 minutes total. Be sure to check the first couple to make sure they are cooked all the way through. Blot on paper and serve on toasted buns with pickle slices.

My Opinion:
So good. It’s very, very close to the original. It just needed to be a touch sweeter, so next time we’ll use a bit more powdered sugar and a touch less pickle juice.

Szechuan Kung Pao Chicken


I love Chinese food. When I was younger and my sister and I got to pick the restaurant for our birthday dinner, I always chose the local Chinese restaurant. As I grew up, I loved trying the flavors of the different provinces, but Szechuan has remained a favorite. J found this recipe from Big Oven (our new favorite go to recipe source). It was divine. I was so disappointed there wasn’t any left overs! The secret is in velveting the chicken. This crucial step is what makes all the difference.

Ingredients:
1 lb chicken thighs (we used two large boneless, skinless, chicken breasts)
10 whole red chili peppers (we left five whole)
1 small red onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic (original recipe calls for crushed, we used minced)
1/2 piece fresh ginger (crushed, we just tossed this in the food processor.)
Handful of roasted peanuts (we used unsalted and about a half cup)
Marinade:
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or Sherry (we used a dry sherry)
1 Egg white
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
Seasoning:
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or sherry (again, we used a dry sherry)
1 tablespoon dark vinegar (balsamic will do)
1 tablespoon Dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 scallion (we used a “bunch” of scallions from our garden)

Directions:
Dice chicken into half-inch cubes (We originally went a little too big, but you also don’t want to make these as small as they are in traditional Kung Pao dishes served in your local Chinese establishment.) Mix marinade, lightly beating the egg white and pour over the chicken. Leave to stand for no more than 30 minutes. Velvet the chicken with oil or water (again, this is the secret and makes a HUGE difference! We used the water method, but the oil method would work as well):
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir the chicken to separate and stir again. Simmer for about 2 minutes until the chicken turns white. Drain the chicken. Tear the chilis into pieces, then soak them in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain. Peel the onion and cut into square 1 1/2 inch pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok until very hot (until it starts to smoke). Add the garlic and ginger to the oil, stir for 15 seconds, then add the chilis and stir for a minute or two. Add the onions and continue to stir and flip for another minute. Add the chicken, scallion, peanuts and cook for another minute. After this, if you notice that it seems a little dry for your taste, feel free to mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with a little bit of water and pour in along with your seasoning. Give it a good quick stir (I mean it, be quick, the sugar will burn.) Serve with rice!

My Opinion:
Leaving the chilis in whole meant this dish was spicy. We liked it so much we actually added the left over rice to the wok in order to sop up all of the left over sauce. The chicken was tender, juicy and just amazing. Next time, we’ll add a bit more onion, ginger and garlic. Plus a green pepper for some added vegetables. This dish was so good I could eat it every single day for a long time and never grow bored.

p.s. If anyone one knows where to find Shaoxing wine in Columbia, let me know! I’m sure it would just add a bit more depth to the dish!

J’s Chicken and Dumplings

Just like with the Chicken Pot Pie, J and his cousin have spent several years perfecting a replica of their grandmother’s famous Chicken and Dumplings. While the made from scratch noodle recipe is lost, they successfully recreated the rest of it. Here’s their recipe.

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Or to be more traditional you can use a whole chicken) boiled and shredded
2 cans cream of chicken soup
32 ounces chicken stock
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
8 flour tortillas, cut into strips
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into strips or diced

Directions:
If the chicken isn’t cooked, boil it. Once it’s cooked, shred it using two forks. Then combine the rest of the ingredients, except the tortillas and eggs, in a large pot. Stir to combine. Bring to a slow boil over medium high heat. Turn to low, add the tortillas and eggs. Cover and let simmer at least 20 minutes.

My opinion:
This is the perfect dish to have right after a taco night or fajita night when you have left over tortillas and don’t want them to go to waste. You can also make this in the slow cooker, so dinner is ready when you get home in the evening.