[About the New Year's resolution behind this]
In a never-seen-before twist, I have used TWO cookbooks for ONE meal. (Okay, so it's not quite as exciting as I make it sound. Still, I feel pretty Martha Stewart-esque.)
From Meena Pathak's Flavours of India, I made murgh lababdar (chicken in a creamy tomato and onion sauce), and from my mother's clearfile of Indian recipes, I made dahl. Nine down, eight to go.
Something about today... I was flicking through the Meena Pathak cookbook salivating at all the beautiful recipes, and this chicken one just caught my eye. I couldn't bear not to make it. And then I remembered my vegetarian flatmate. So, dahl was added to the mix, because it goes well with other Indian dishes and it can stand alone too.
I cannot emphasise enough how FANTASTIC this meal was. I loved it. You should try it.
Here are the recipes I used:
1) Dahl. I assure you, it's better than it looks:
This dish serves four as a main course.
You will need:
1 cup red or brown lentils, or moong dahl (I used red lentils)
4 cups of water
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp grated fresh root ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
Boil the lentils in the water until tender and mushy. (About 20 minutes for moong dahl, 30 for red lentils, 40 for brown lentils.)
In another pan, heat the oil and cook the next five ingredients over a moderate heat until the onion is tender. Stir in the garam masala and salt and remove from heat.
Add the onion mixture to the soft lentils in their cooking liquid, and simmer for 5 minutes. (Boil fast if mixture needs thickening, or add more liquid if it is too thick.)
Serve immediately or reheat.
I started the next dish about halfway through the dahl process. How to make murgh lababdar. Note: I did not use the chilli, and I used only a small amount of chilli powder, because one of my flatmates is heat-intolerant. The meal was still lovely without it:
You will need:
2 T vegetable oil
400g / 14 oz onions, chopped
25g / 1 oz fresh root ginger, chopped
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 small green chilli, chopped
600g / 1 and a quarter oz tomatoes, chopped
60g / 3 oz butter
3/4 tsp red chilli powder
1 kg / 2 lb chicken breast, cut into cubes (I only used 500g/1 lb, and this was perfectly adequate)
300 mL / 1/2 pint cream (I used milk and this also was fine)
2 tsp garam masala
large pinch of dried fenugreek leaves (what the heck? I don't know what this is, and neither did my supermarket! It was fine without them)
3 T chopped fresh coriander
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add chopped onions, ginger, garlic and green chilli, and sauté for about 10 minutes, until the onions are a light golden brown colour.
Add the chopped tomatoes, butter and red chilli powder and cook over a low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring at regular intervals until the butter separates from the gravy.
Add the chicken pieces and continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Add the salt and cream and cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, stir in the garam masala and dried fenugreek leaves. Sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander. Serve with rice.
The final product, as put away in a plastic container for the flatmate who wasn't home tonight:
This was SO GOOD. Definitely the best meal of my entire cooking challenge! The only slight drawback is that it takes quite a while to get ready, so it's definitely not a get home from work, throw something together kind of meal. All the same, it's not labour-intensive. There's definitely room to sit down and read a book, getting up every now and then to stir it.
Altogether, it easily served five, and then there were leftovers for two lunches.
Very, very good. Thank you, Meena Pathak. Thank you, Mum.