Out of India

I checked out "From Curries to Kebabs" by Madhur Jaffrey from my local library, and based on the descriptions of the dishes alone, subsequently purchased the book and necessary spices.  During a family trip to Malaysia and Singapore, we had experienced the influence of Indian spices first hand in a food-lovers paradise, and this book triggered some fond memories. 

My first attempt from this cookbook had to include Peranakan (Nonya) Chicken Curry--Jaffrey recommends purchasing your curry powder at the Farrar Road wet market in Singapore.  Unfortunately, hindsight is  20/20 and I made do with regular curry powder from Safeway.  The dish did not seem to suffer for lack of it.  I also omitted the potatoes because we were serving a potato dish with dinner.  This curry was so aromatic and delicious--when Ian said, "It's a little underseasoned," I almost strangled him.  He meant undersalted, quickly rectified at the table with a pinch of salt.  I felt like I was at the night market in Kuala Lumpur, except as Sophie reminded me, "We have a place to sit, and plates and forks."

Peranakan (Nonya) Chicken Curry

2.5 TBS curry powder

~2.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

3 stalks lemongrass

3 TBS oil (I used canola)

5 slices fresh ginger (peeled, about the size of a quarter)

3 medium shallots, very finely chopped (you can use a food processor)

8 fresh kaffir lime leaves very finely chopped

10 fresh curry leaves very finely chopped

2-3 fresh hot green chiles, very finely chopped (I used one Thai green chile without seeds)

1.5 tsp salt

1.5 cups coconut milk

2 TBS tamarind paste

2 medium tomatoes, cut into eighths

1 tsp sugar

Rub chicken with 1.5 TBS curry powder and set aside.  Cut the tops off the lemongrass leaving ~6" lengths, cut them in half lenghtwise.  Pour oil into a large lidded pan or wok (nonstick is good) and set over med-hi heat. When oil is hot put in the ginger slices. Fry, stirring, until they are brown on each side.  Remove and discard.  Put the shallots in the pan and stir fry for 3-4 minutes or until golden.  Add the remaining curry powder, lemongrass, lime leaves, curry leaves.  Continue to cook, stirring for 4 minutes.  Now put in the chicken, salt, and ~1.5 cups water. Stir and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes.  Add the coconut milk and tamarind paste, cook uncovered and additional 5 minutes.  The dish can be prepared up to this point several hours in advance.  Just before serving reheat the curry if needed, and add the tomatoes and sugar.  Stir and cook, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes. Remove the lemongrass prior to serving.  Malaysian curries are typically eaten with rice.

I won't even pretend it was as good as Mala's mom's, but I felt confident with my foray into the curry scene. 

I also made Palak Paneer using this recipe from Indian Simmer and my homemade paneer.  I am sure the real Indian cooks are thinking, "Palak Paneer with Nonya curry--what a rube," but I love palak paneer.  Any dish that is vegetable-centric and loved by my whole family is a hit.  After eating at Mala's, Ian said, "If you cooked Indian food like this I would eat vegetarian every night."  Be careful what you wish for because there are a lot more recipes I want to try from this cookbook.

After numerous requests for the purchase of green tea ice cream at H-mart, I finally made good on my promise to "just make my own."  It was a fitting ending for our Asian meal.  I used Jeni's Splendid Ice creams vanilla recipe as my base.

Green Tea Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk

1 TBS + 1 tsp cornstarch

large pinch fine sea salt

1.5 oz cream cheese, softened

2 TBS matcha green tea powder

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

2 TBS light corn syrup

1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out

Mix ~2 TBS milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl.  Mix the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl til smooth.

Combine the rest of the milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla seeds/bean in a 4 quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil over med-high heat and boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch and milk mixture. Bring back to a boil and cook stirring constantly until slightly thickened, ~1 minute.  Add a small amount of the hot milk mixture to the green tea powder in a small bowl and whisk until combined.  Add the rest of the hot milk to the cream cheese and whisk until smooth.  Whisk the green tea mixture into the milk/cream cheese mixture.  Pour into a gallon ziplock and submerge in an ice water bath for about 30 minutes adding more ice as necessary.

Churn in your ice cream maker. 

I have been reading a lot recently about all the health benefits of the Indian spices, and we all know that green tea is loaded with antioxidants.  Combining them with coconut milk, cream, and unrestrained glugs of oil likely negates these effects.  Thank goodness for the upcoming Army Ten-Miler--training for a race can undo a multitude of dietary sins.  Feast responsibly.