When the Husband and I were forced to move from our last apartment, we decided to make a big leap and move a whole one and a half blocks down, on the same street. We are nothing if not adventurous.
Surprisingly, even this small change of scenery meant we noticed things we had never registered before. For example, the Indian/Pakistani takeout place in the basement next door. It even had an amazing name, involving the word “sacrificial.” Um, OK. Because the first thing either one of us suggests when we get home from a trip is Indian food, we’re in.
Sadly, Sacrificial didn’t live up to our (mental) hype. So when we don’t want to walk the whole five blocks to our normal Indian place (hey, DC is HOT in the summer!), we have to make our own. Fortunately, this dish is so easy no one feels like they’ve sacrificed anything. Recipe adapted from Real Simple.
Grilled Curried Chicken Breast and Peach Salad
about 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
2-3 peaches, sliced
2-3 scallions, chopped
In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, curry powder, hot sauce and garlic. Set a little bit aside, for use as your sauce later. Stick the rest of the mixture in a ziplock bag, put your chicken breasts in there, and make sure they’re coated thoroughly. Go off on your merry/to work ways, and let marinate for about 8 hours.
Heat a grill or grill pan to medium & coat with a little cooking spray. Toss the sliced peaches with a little salt, pepper and olive oil; grill those about 3-4 minutes. For the last minute or two, add your scallions. Set aside and keep warm (I wrapped mine in aluminum).
Remove the chicken from its marinade and add to to the grill, cooking about 4-5 minutes per side, or until done.
Assemble your salad: arugula, avocado, chicken, peaches, & scallions. Top with a little bit of reserved sauce.
I like to make a grilled peach, chicken and goat cheese salad that’s become a staple around here on those summer nights that we realize that we’ve eaten mostly ice cream, chocolate covered pretzels, and/or cheeseburgers. This is a nice little update that delivers those same healthy-reset vibes, so you can get back to eating ice cream, chocolate covered pretzels, and/or cheeseburgers.
Tonight, despite the leftovers begging to be released from their (glass, because when my mom found out about BPA, you can guess what was under the Christmas tree) Tupperware containers, I decided to forge ahead with a plan for lentil soup. It’s freezing and windy and tomorrow it might even snow here (let’s keep our fingers crossed!!).
You may recall lentil soup with Swiss chard is a staple around here…but I recently bought some garam masala and why not? Enter Bon Appetit’s plan to integrate curry and garbanzo beans + a few small tweaks, because I just can’t help myself, especially around garlic.
Curried Red Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard and Chickpeas
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 teaspoons curry powder
small handful cayenne
dash of crushed red pepper
pinch garam marsala (optional)
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
4 cups veggie broth, plus or minus (depending on if you like lentil soup vs. stand-alone lentils)
1 cup red lentils (what is Bon Appetit thinking, calling for a pound!?)
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
juice from 1/2 lime
salt and sugar – in case the curry comes out a little bitter, more on this later
optional/for topping: plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, cooked brown rice, avocado
If serving with rice (in the Husband’s view, you can’t over-carb), get your water boiling – the rice will take about the same time as the soup, if you get it going first (especially if using jasmine rice). Cook rice according to directions and keep warm.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Cook the onions down, until translucent, over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for a minute; add the curry powder, cayenne pepper, crushed reds, and garam masala. Mix well and then add broth and Swiss chard; bring to a boil.
Add the lentils and reduce the heat. Split lentils will take significantly less time to cook than non-split ones; if working with split lentils, add the chickpeas now. If not, let the lentils cook down a bit before adding the chickpeas. Cover the pot and simmer until the lentils are tender – about 10 to 20 minutes.
Taste your soup & adjust accordingly. Mine was quite bitter and a bit heavy on the seasonings. To counteract this, I added (very small & equal) amounts of salt and sugar and stirred until dissolved, until I was able to bring the bite down a bit.
Before serving, add the lime juice and stir. Serve with brown rice, topped with a bit of plain Greek yogurt and cilantro. TIP: Mixing the yogurt all the way through will also serve to counteract any lingering bitterness and really bring all of the flavors together, though obviously, this won’t work for the lactose-intolerant.
Around step 4, I got really worried. In the Husband’s words, it tasted “not bad…like water, with seasonings.” However, I’m starting to trust myself a bit more, and rather than resign myself to bad soup (which I have definitely foisted upon the Husband before – cue the burned-pumpkin-soup story from our days of pre-dating, which he ate up with a big, if forced, smile.), I actually fixed it, with salt, sugar, and a bit more time stewing. This turned out deliciously – warm, tasty, and filling (another) happy Tupperware container to bring for lunch. Topped with avocado, next time!
Well, we knew this day was coming. The day we wouldn’t want to record a recipe forever on the internet.
In short, we (actually, the Husband) made the chicken tikka masala recipe on Thursday evening. He, unlike me, followed the recipe exactly. And as he said at the end, “it was edible…but not tikka masala.” That a resounding approbation it is not. So instead of sharing the recipe, I will say this: the Husband can cook and he will be back. (Possibly next week, when I take off for a work trip.) And, since I went to three grocery stores in order to hunt down some garam masale (tip: Whole Foods carries it!), we will be trying some different tikka masala recipes in the future. Just not this particular one.
Last night, the Husband and I were invited to our first-ever Diwali party. We both had to consult Wikipedia and a few friends to study up on this “festival of lights” and make sure we brought our house-guest “A” game. A friend told us that in some Indian states, Diwali is celebrated as New Year’s, though others at the party disagreed. (I wore some sparkles, just in case.) Either way, we were happy to be invited – especially as it held special significance for the hostess: her first Diwali as a newly married woman.
The food was unbelievably, ridiculously, incredibly delicious – and 100% vegetarian. She told us she had been up since 7AM that morning cooking and Skyping with her mom back in India, and it showed through in each dish. Nothing we had tasted like anything either of us had ever sampled in any Indian-style restaurant. We learned, actually, that most of the restaurants and style of food with which we’re familiar come from North India, and even more specifically, from the Punjab region. This is where dishes like tandoor, naan, and paneer come from (though a little research on aforementioned Wikipedia implies that chicken tikka comes from Southern India, while my favorite, chicken tikka masala, might actually have its roots in the Indian community in the United Kingdom!).
I won’t even attempt to recreate the dishes here. If you’re interested, though, I found the following recipe for the all-star appetizer, Papdi Chaat, with relatively simple, step-by-step instructions here.