“With Indian food, to me, it's all about colors, its textures, its aromas, its temperatures, and so you eat with all your senses” ~ Raghavan Iyer
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Podcasts are frequent companions throughout my day, and this week, as luck would have it, I happened upon an old episode of The Key 3. It's a series of discussions Lynn Rosetto Kasper has with great cooks, as they share the three recipes or techniques they think everyone should know
It was late at night, for the past few hours her voice had been white noise really, keeping me company through a busy night at work. That is until I heard the words “Indian cooking” chased with “Building a complexity with flavors that will blow your mind.”
Stop. Rewind. Start over.
My goodness, what a fascinating discussion she was having with Raghavan Iyer (a cookbook author, culinary educator, spokesman, and consultant whose specialty is Indian cuisine)
Yes, he brought recipes along, but they'd quickly taken a backseat to his fascinating lessons on Indian cuisine itself. It's so simple really, a grocery list of items that are familiar and non-fussy. Complexity created with just a few spices and treated in such a way that the final product is something truly special.
Take a few minutes; it's worth a listen. Did you know curry powder isn't Indian food? If your dish doesn't have a sauce, it's not a curry? Not all curries have turmeric?
My favorite, if one takes any given spice and gives it to a good Indian cook, he or she should be able to extract eight flavors from it (depending on what they'd like to do with it). Yes, eight, and you can read more about them here.
I couldn't help but think of the chicken bites we made this past week.
Part of the series on Indian cooking (a thank you from afar for a beautiful wedding gift from a friend). Never would I have expected them to rise to the level they did. Such simple ingredients, a handful of spices. The final product is a dish for which we both said, “Wow.”
They really are worth making. We first ate them as an evening meal. My husband with rice and a side salad. Me with a few veggies on the side (grains were a no-no during the 8-Week Run‘s detox week). The next day I made a couple more batches for our freezer. We're now adding them to omelets, salads wraps, you name it.
(The spice blend is also a great addition to any combination of roasted veggies. Sprinkle it on before they go into the oven)
ps: Read a transcript of Lynne Rossetto Kasper's interview with Raghavan Iyer from The Key 3 podcast
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~ Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking
Indian Chicken Bites
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp bright red paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- Preheat the oven to 350° F
- In a small bowl, mix the spices. Set aside.
- Cut each chicken thigh into 1-inch segments. Put in a separate bowl.
- Add the spice mix, along with 1 Tbsp of the oil to the chicken. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes (or longer)
- Heat the remaining oil in a wok or large, nonstick frying pan over very high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the chicken. Stir-fry quickly until the pieces are lightly browned or have turned opaque on the outside
- Put the pieces in a baking dish, and cover loosely with lightly oiled wax paper (which should sit inside the dish and directly on top of the chicken pieces) and bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until the chicken pieces are just cooked through.
- (If not to be eaten immediately, remove the pieces from the hot baking dish to prevent them from drying out)