A couple of months ago, my mother and I went to Half-Price Bookstore. If you’re not familiar with this store, it is a fantastic bookstore that sells various books for half of the original price of less. While at this bookstore, I found a few Indian cookbooks, but settled for a HUGE book called 660 Curries. I chose this book because the photos of the dishes looked much better than those found in the other cookbooks. Also, I chose it because it was huge with all of my favorite Indian dishes and many others I’ve yet to try along with the history of all the dishes.
For weeks I have been putting off making Tandoori Murgh Makhani, which is similar to Chicken Tikka Masala or Butter Chicken. Not surprisingly, I didn’t have most of the ingredients in this recipe, so I had to make a special trip to my favorite Indian grocery store, MGM Indian Foods (if you’re in the Central Texas area, I highly recommend this store. The owner is very friendly and will help you find anything you need). I found 100% of the ingredients I needed, but I forgot to pick up cinnamon sticks and coriander seeds, so I had to use the powdered versions of those two instead and accidentally placed them in the skillet with the seeds.
Tomorrow, I will be grilling the chicken, but today I made the balti masala, a vital spice mix for this recipe, and ginger-garlic paste the day before yesterday. I was happy to finally get to use my mortar and pestle. However, if you don’t have one, or you want to make things a little easier, you can use a spice or coffee grinder. Come back tomorrow for the rest of this Indian dish!!
Happy Spring Break to all my colleagues and friends!!
15 cloves of garlic
8 ounces of coarsely chopped fresh garlic (no need to peel)
Pour 1/4-1/2 cup of water in a blender (I accidentally put in one cup). Peel the garlic cloves, and throw them into the blender. Chop the ginger root roughly, and throw them in the blender. Purée the cloves, ginger, and water until fairly smooth. If too watery, strain the mixture (I had to do that because I put in too much water.) Store mixture in a closed container for one week in the refrigerator and 2 months in the freezer.
2 tsps fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds from black pods
1/2 tsp nigella seeds
3 fresh or dried bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches long each), broken into smaller pieces
2 tsp cayenne (ground red pepper) powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg powder
Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add all the whole spices (reserve the powders for later), and toast, shaking the skillet every few seconds, until the fennel, coriander, and cumin turn reddish-brown, and the mustard, cloves, and cardamom turn ash-black, and the cinnamon and bay leaves appear brittle and crinkly, and the mixture is highly fragant (1-2 minutes).
Immediately transfer the nutty-smelling spices to a plate cool because the longer they sit in the hot skillet, the more likely they will burn. Once they are cool to the touch, place them in a mortar, spice, or coffee grinder, and grind until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper. Stir in the powders.
Store the mix in a tightly-sealed container, away from excess light, heat, and humidity, for up to 2 months. Do not refrigerate.