My wonderful husband got a book for me the other day by Tarquin Hall that was about an Indian Private Eye named Vishnu who attends a fancy dinner where the guests are served one of his favorites – the butter chicken- only to find one of them starts foaming at the mouth and dies.
I’ve got to tell you that I’m having a tough time with the language in the story. There are a lot of words that are completely unfamiliar to me. Some of the words describe foods, or habits, or people, but other words seem to be almost place holders, like an American saying “whoa”, or “huh”, or “gotcha”. It’s tough when you read a book filled with the casual language of another culture.
What I found especially enticing though was the idea that Chubby, or Vish Puri, the lead character, loves Butter Chicken. I had to try it. Unfortunately I don’t have masala in my cupboards. So I tried my best to create an Americanized version of it and I must say it wasn’t bad.
I also tried using the spice turmeric. I’m generally cautious of new spices. I mean, what if I hate them? So I had purchased this container of orange dust with the expectation that some day I might need it and yet, I hadn’t had the guts to actually use it in any recipes lately.
I screwed up my courage and I spilled the turmeric into my rice that was flavored with onion and garlic and peppers and oil and at firsts I had a blast of orange powder in my rice. I felt a little disheartened. But then a few minutes later after gently stirring the concoction- I had this delightful bright yellow rice that smelled and I must admit, tasted lovely.
It’s really very mild, but it made a big difference in the final rice dish. So go ahead, get crazy, make Chubby’s favorite dish and serve it either as an aside, with a separate rice dish, or add the rice to the butter chicken ( which is what you are supposed to do, but I didn’t want to flub an entire meal if I hated the taste).
Oh, I’m not giving you the recipe here, because I just used what I had in order to create my own faux punjabi dish, but basically you season some chicken with some salt and I used plain yogurt. Let that marinate, then add some spices- I used chili and turmeric and a bit of sugar. Then heat that in a pan and in another dish heat oil, sweat some onions for about 5 minutes, then add a can of crushed tomatoes, or whatever kind of tomatoes you have, a little ketchup and some almond milk.
In the rice, I used about 2 tbl of oil, cooked rice, salt and pepper, onion, garlic and chili and turmeric. Add green peppers, red peppers and stir and in about 10 minutes you have a pretty rice dish that tastes great with your chicken that has a nice pasty sauce.
When baking you have to be careful with weights and measures, but generally with all the other cooking you do in the kitchen you can add a little extra here, and take away a little bit there. Let your own taste buds decide!