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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San Francisco Shrimp

San Francisco Shrimp

We’ve been on a shrimp kick again. Only this time, we’re eating more than just the sriracha shrimp. J bookmarked this recipe on a wonderful recipe finding site, Big Oven. So far almost every thing we’ve made from the site has been delicious. While at first glance this dish may seem time and labor intensive, it isn’t. The key to making it a weeknight meal is to have the ingredients ready to go.

Ingredients:
2 pounds jumbo shrimp shelled
5 stalks scallions finely chopped (more works too!)
8 cloves garlic, minced
5 slices ginger root finely chopped (we grated it, it was easier)
2-3 pods dried red chile peppers crushed (in a pinch you can use red pepper flakes)
Sauce
1/2 cup Ketchup
1 Tbsp cooking sherry (this is a bit salty in my opinion, we usually use regular sherry)
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt (if using cooking sherry, omit this!)
4 tablespoons cooking oil (you might need more or less depending on the oil you use. We found with sesame oil, it absorbs fast, but tastes the best!)
cornstarch about 2/3 of a cup should be enough

Directions:
Put the cornstarch in a zip top gallon sized bag. Dry the shrimp with paper towels and put into the cornstarch bag. Shake. Pour about an inch of cooking oil in the bottom of a wok. Deep fry shrimp in batches until pink and slightly golden. Remove shrimp to a separate plate covered in paper towels. Ladle a bit of oil from the wok to a non-stick skillet. Heat and add scallions, garlic, ginger, and chile pepper mix in the oil until fragrant, about one minute. Pour sauce ingredients into the skillet, stir until bubbly. Return shrimp into the skillet, mix well. Serve over a bed of rice.

My Opinion:
This dish is perfect for a hot summer night. It’s delicious and sweet and spicy and a touch sour. We’ve added a diced onion into the scallion mixture and it was wonderful. We’ve added broccoli into the sauce and it was fantastic. This might just be in my top five favorite meals. So good!

Best Sweet and Sour Chicken

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We’ve been eating a home a lot more lately. Which means, when we’re craving specialty food, we have to make it ourselves, while trying to use up the left overs.We had left over onions and green peppers from grilling and decided to try our hand at sweet and sour chicken adapted from this recipe. It was amazing. Right up there with the Kung Pao. Flavorful and even better easy.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry wine
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (you can use fresh too)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups vegetable oil
1 (15 ounce) can pineapple chunks (we used a bigger can and be sure to save the juice!)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 medium green pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions:
Mix together first 6 ingredients. Add chicken; coat well. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Fry chicken until lightly browned (we skipped this since we velveted the chicken).  Removed chicken; drain. Drain pineapple, reserving liquid. Add enough water to juice to make 1 cup (if you used a larger can of pineapple, you should have one cup of juice from the can and won’t need the water). Add the cornstarch, mixing well. Combine pineapple juice mixture and next 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir green pepper, onion and chicken into sauce; cook until thoroughly heated. Serve over rice.

My opinion:
I know what you’re thinking, will this sauce really taste good? It has ketchup for goodness sake! I promise, you it will not only taste good, but be delicious. I like this dish so much better than the one at our favorite local Chinese place. Especially without the breading. One of the secrets is not to cook the green peppers too long. You want them to still be bright green, not dull green. Next time, we might add a dash or two of chili peppers to make it a bit spicy. Yum!