Today, Lisa and I were scheduled to cook our Indian dishes, but unfortunately we were never able to connect. When I received her e-mail telling me that her phone was not charged, I could only smile, as I've fallen prey to the death of my cell phone far too many times. These sorts of incidents remind me that, despite our perceptions of others, each of us are subject to the demands of life that take us away from our simplest activities. For me, I viewed Lisa as the woman who planned carefully, executed flawlessly, and delivered without exception. It seems that, in this particular case, we are more alike than I thought.

We had agreed to make Rob's Chicken Tiki Masala featured on her blog site, http://housewifecooking.blogspot.com/2009/05/crock-pot-chicken-tikka-masala.html.

My project began last night when I marinated cubes of boneless, skinless chicken in a mixture of Greek yogurt, lemon juice and a series of spices of which the star was garam masala purchased from my local Indian market.

This morning I assembled my ingredients.

While the marinated chicken was baking, I prepared the sauce which was comprised of an onion, tomato puree, heavy whipping cream, and garam masala and other spices. I was intrigued by the technique used in Indian cooking whereby very simple spices are incorporated into the dish in stages. This ingenious and wonderful process is evidently why Indian cuisine is known for its depth of flavor. The sauce was then incorporated with a tomato-cream sauce in a crock pot where it cooked for about three hours.

The total time to prepare this dish was under an hour.

I then prepared the Indian Dahl with Spinach found on Allrecipes.com. This dish incorporated earthy spices including turmeric, cumin , mustard seed and garam masala. If you have never tried Dahl, please try it, as the layers of flavors are almost decadent in a dish that is essentially lentils and spinach. I cannot describe the how fragrant my dishes were, but it was intoxicating. My house captured the fragrances of the earthy and the spicy; again a reminder of Lisa and me.

I served my dishes with Indian rice and Paratha (which I cheated by purchasing). The dishes were heaven on a plate.

I wish that Lisa and I were able to talk like we do while we were preparing our dishes, but because I knew that she was performing the very same activity at a time parallel to mine, I felt her kindred spirit cooking with me. During the day, I had wonderful conversations with two of our other "Peas", Este and Christy; and because we prepared our dishes using Rob's recipe, she was also a part of my day. I could not help but be pleased for the "new" friends that I have. Much like our friendships, the simplicity in construction creates a complexity of flavors that produces an aroma that made my house feel like a home.

Now that I'm finished cooking and finished dining, I have no idea why I have not tried to make Indian food before.  It's one of my most favorite ethnic foods and we order takeout often from Mountain City Coffeehouse.
So, Leana and I decided on Indian fare and we decided to make our friend Robyn's Chicken Tikka Masala.  To that I added Panjabi Aloo Gobi (spiced cauliflower and potatoes), homemade Naan, and Jasmati rice.  Of course, I wanted basmati rice, but that's asking too much in Frostburg.  I was glad to find Jasmati...which I'm guessing is Jasmine and Basmati rice?  I don't know...it was yummy.
Unfortunately, my cell phone was dead and I couldn't retrieve Leana's phone number!!!  It just wasn't right cooking without chatting with her!  Honestly, it wasn't nearly as fulfilling as having our monthly chat during the cooking process!  Darn phone...it won't happen again!

The chicken dish, the aloo gobi, and the homemade Naan were truly delicious.  My husband looked at me during dinner and said, "Well, now you've ruined Indian food...we won't be able to eat out anywhere soon!".  I'll take that as a compliment.

I used Rob's recipe as is...and it rocked.  The spiced cauliflower and potatoes are another story.  I surveyed many different recipes and came up with the recipe below.  For the homemade Naan, I followed the recipe at Allrecipes.com...it was the BEST Naan I've ever tasted.  I amended the recipe a bit, see below.


Here are the recipes:

Robyn's Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala

Recipe: Punjabi Aloo Gobi – Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2c russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2c cauliflower, cut into small-medium sized florets
  • 1.5c canned diced tomatoes
  • 1c frozen peas
  • 5-6 inches long ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Salt
  • Bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil


Directions:
  1. In a large skillet heat the ghee or canola oil over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and ginger and gently stir-fry until they begin to turn golden, approx. 1 minute.
  2. Lower the heat, add the potatoes, garam masala, turmeric and a pinch of salt. Carry on stir-frying until the spices cook and begin to smell fragrant – approx. 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the cauliflower and toss to incorporated with the spices, then pour in the diced tomatoes. Stir once or twice, cover and allow to simmer over a medium heat for approx. 30-35 minutes. Stir occasionally. The vegetables should be tender but still firm.
  4. Add the peas about 10 minutes before the cooking time is completed and gently stir
  5. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve with homemade naans. 
 The Best Homemade Naan

Ingredients

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons powdered garlic

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
  2. Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  3. During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.
  4. At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.

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