About 5 years ago, I went to India and there I ate the most wonderful things. I still have to laugh thinking about the visits to restaurants where we were offered a menu with less spice. When I asked to make the dish Indian spiced, they looked at me in disbelief. When I was served the dishes and ate all of it without blinking, they were quite surprised. Apparently I can stand hot chilies :)
a selection of dishes mmm!
In the desert, the food was slightly more basic:
toasts and bananas :)
I brought home with me several Indian recipes, just so I could recreate the delicious things I'd eaten. I went to special Indian shops to gather a collection of lentils and spices like fenugreek, cardemom seeds, mustard seeds and many more. The cupboards are overflowing with these ingredients but you cannot not add spices to Indian dishes. Pepper and salt, the Belgian spice mix, just isn't enough haha!
I made a curry last night to serve today. I was inspired by a recipe on Veg Recipes of India: veg makhanwala. It's a dish made with quite a lot of butter, some cream and a paste of cashew nuts. The different vegetables and the cashew paste attracted me but as I don't fancy a lot of butter and my dad doesn't like anything vegetarian (unfortunately ...), I decided to make it a little different to decrease the amount of fat and by adding chicken, I knew my dad would be pleased as well.
Of course you can decide to leave out the chicken and make it vegetarian ;)
Ingredients for 4-5 people:
- 2 heaped tablespoons of cashew nuts (about 20-25 pieces)
- 1 can (400 grams) peeled tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 tablespoons of neutral oil
- 5 pieces of chicken (I prefer chicken with bone because that's much less dry and much tastier)
- 2 red bell peppers
- handful of fresh green beans (I used frozen beans)
- handful of fresh peas (I used frozen peas)
- 2 medium carrots
- pinch of kurkuma/turmeric powder
- chilli flakes/powder to taste (make it as hot as you like or can stand)
- 3/4 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (crushed)
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 230 ml water
- basmati rice to serve (250-300 grams)
- coriander leaves for garnish
Start by soaking the cashews. Boil some water and pour it on top of the cashews. Let them soak for about half an hour.
In the meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and bake the chicken pieces slightly. The chicken will cook in the sauce as well so it only needs some searing.
Cut the vegetables in small pieces or sticks.
Take the chicken out of the pan and in the same pan, saute the vegetables slightly. Just like the chicken they only need some searing. Take them out of the pan and set aside.
Take the cashew out of the water and put them in the food processor along with the peeled tomatoes (you can drain the juice if you like, like I did), the ginger and the garlic. Process them until you get a smooth paste without cashew pieces remaining.
Bake the paste in the same pan as the chicken and vegetables (you see I didn't add extra oil) for a few minutes. Add the water, the turmeric powder and the chilli to the paste and stir. Then add the fenugreek, the salt and the sugar. Stir another minute or two. You'll see the sauce thicken slightly.
Add the chicken and the vegetables back to the pan and stir everything around so that the sauce covers everything. When the curry starts to boil, add the garam masala and stir gently.
Leave on low fire and with the lid on for about 1 hour. Let it simmer.
I made the curry the night before so I took it off the fire and let it cool off. Curries tend to taste better the next day as the flavours get time to blend.
I served this with basmati rice and coriander leaves.