Monday, July 14, 2008

A Taste of India and Paying it Forward

I was the lucky recipient of Aapplemint's Pay It Forward gift pack, full of Indian goodies. Read on for chronicles of my Indian adventure. Since it is a pay it forward contest, I have a little prize pack of my own to give away, with some of my favorite treats. It includes glazes, teas, spices, Indian and Japanese treats and gourmet candies. If you are the lucky recipient, it will be your job to pay it forward with your own prize pack. If this sounds like a great opportunity to try new things, then leave me a comment on this post by July 28th with your email address and/or a link to your blog. I will pick one winner randomly (probably out of a hat) and notify you by July 30th.

Here are the contents of the Indian prize pack I recieved:
~ musst chips in aloo chaat flavor- addictively spiced potato crisps
~ salt and pepper banana chips - tasty strangely like potato - good but it made me wonder if they were really bananas or in fact plantains
~ nutties - yumm...I love cashews and these ones were candied then smothered in chocolate
~ 5 star crunchy bar - chocolatety, chewy, crunchy, malty
~ candied fennel seeds - my absolute favorite - I've never seen these outside of Indian restaurants - If any Baltimore locals know of a source for me I'd be endlessly thankful - I'm addicted!
~ fennel seeds - lovely licorice flavor
~ tumeric powder - yellow and bright
~ chili powder - the hottest I've ever had
~ garam masala - my favorite Indian flavor
~ homemade curry powder - wow
~ whole black mustard seeds - great texture and bite
~ whole cloves - they remind me of fall in picturesque New England towns - of mulled cider and glazed ham and pumpkin pie
~ tandoori paste - for tender flavorful grilled meats

I was inspired to create my own Indian feast using all those fabulous spices. This included some homemade naan, spiced chicken and lamb dishes and a lovely veggie side. The meal was complete with a silky smooth dessert. This is how I imagine India tastes.

Garlic Naan

1 1/4 cups organic whole milk
1 package active dry yeast
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp melted butter or ghee
3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp crushed garlic
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp coarsely crushed black pepper
2 tsp black sesame or nigella seeds

Microwave the milk until warm but not hot. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine milk and yeast and let sit until frothy. Add beaten egg, butter and yogurt, mix well to combine. Add remainder of ingredients and mix to form a soft dough. If it is too sticky, add additional all purpose flour. Knead on medium speed for 2 minutes. Put in an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in size (a couple of hours).

Preheat oven to 400 with a baking dish of water on the bottom rack. Divide the dough into 10 portions. Use the tips of your fingers to shape the dough into a dimpled tear drop on parchment or a silpat on top of a cookie sheet. You will be able to bake 2 or 3 at once, depending on the size of your cookie sheets. On the very top shelf (don't worry they won't burn), bake for 8 minutes or until golden, then flip and bake another 6 minutes. Repeat until you've used all the dough. Before serving, toast on the grill over high heat, slather with butter and sprinkle with garlic powder.

Aloo Gobi with peas
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 onion, diced
8 oz. cubed potatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 inch slice of ginger
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup filtered water
1 cup frozen sweet peas
1 Tbsp butter

Heat oil and mustard seeds in a covered deep sided skillet over medium heat until seeds begin to pop. Add potatoes and onions and cook until they just begin to brown (about 10 min). Add spices and cook one minute until fragrant. Add tomatoes and cauliflower, toss until evenly coated with spices. Add ginger, sugar, salt, pepper and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 12 minutes. Add peas. Simmer another 3 minutes or until all vegetables are tender and warm. Stir in butter.

Tandoori Chicken

Per chicken quarter (bone in, skin removed):
1/4 cup yogurt
1 Tbsp tandoori paste

Mix together yogurt and tandoori paste. Coat chicken with paste and let sit in fridge for at least 2 hours. Grill over indirect heat until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Lamb Tenderloin with Indian Spices

2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar

3/4 lb. lamb tenderloin

Combine spices. Massage into lamb. Let sit for 1-2 hours in the fridge. Grill over high heat until seared on the outside, medium rare inside.

One of my favorite parts about Indian food is the use of creamy yogurt to cut the heat of spicy curries. I love mango lassies, and I've been meaning to try making homemade tapioca pudding for a while. This dessert combines those two treats to invoke the sweet flavors of India.

Mango Tapioca Pudding with Chai Whipped Cream

Mango Lassie Tapioca Pudding

1/2 cup small pearl tapioca
2 cups water

1 1/3 cups mango puree, strained
1/3 cup full fat yogurt
1 1/3 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp anise extract
1/2 tsp freshly ground green cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla paste or seeds from half a vanilla bean

Soak tapioca in water overnight.

Drain tapioca. Add to a medium heavy saucepan with all other ingredients. Cook over medium heat until thickened and tapioca is translucent. Cool to room temperature, then spoon into glasses, cover with plastic wrap and chill. To serve, top with chai whipped cream, kiwi slices and candied fennel seeds.

Chai Whipped Cream

I have a nifty whipped cream dispenser that makes life easy. If you don't have one, this can easily be made by whipping cream about halfway, slowly adding spices and syrup, then beating until stiff peaks are achieved.

2 Tbsp cinnamon dolce syrup (you can buy this at any Starbucks - or substitute your own cinnamon syrup)
1 1/2 Tbsp good quality powdered chai
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Swirl syrup and chai together in the base of a whipped cream dispenser, until chai has dissolved. Add whipped cream and swirl to mix. Charge dispenser as directed.


Kate / Kajal said...

Oh my Dana ... that is just marvelous!
What a lovely Indian treat you have prepared ... and how i wish i could have all of that. I'm so glad you like all the things i sent you, and you made maximum use of all the ingredients.Well done girl ! I'm so happy to see this wonderful post.

Shreya said...

Nice post, and you have made the Indian dishes really well:-)

Heather said...

wow! this looks delicious!

Angry Asian said...

the Aloo Gobi with peas dish looks fantastic. lucky girl!

konnie said...

I can smell it now, sniff, sniff. Oh my, I need some Indian food ASAP.
What a wonderful looking meal.

Jenn said...

fun fun fun. I want to enter. Your dessert looks amazing!

lrimerman said...

Oh, what a fun concept and it the indian meal you made is awesome. I love Indian cuisine!! A friend taught me how to make spicy green rice and gobi aloo, i may have to try the chicken and make my own Indian feast soon, I bet my adventurous kids would love it.


joanne at frutto della passione said...

Getting packages from far away is always fun! And all your dishes look great too.

SweetDesigns said...

Wow, that was a heck of a package!! How exciting!! Your feast looks Fantastic!!

Mrs Erg├╝l said...

Make me lucky ;)

Thanks in advance lol

Annie said...

That's a really amazing spread you got yourself there! Glad I decided to check out your post. I love Indian spices and foods too and especially loved Aloo Gobi after watching Bend it Like Beckham.

AJ said...

The tandoori chicken looks fabulous. I have got to learn how to make Indian food.

Amber said...

Every year I do 1 table, set for 8, out of 45 tables at a table setting charity luncheon (does this make sense?). A few years ago my theme was "A Passage To India" and I had wood bowls piled high with spices. It was the only time a table had a scent that wafted as people moved and everyone loved it. I love the spice scents and colors of India. Your food looks wonderful and exotic.

Anonymous said...

count me in!

Carmen from


Cathy C said...

This really looks great as I in the past have not gravitated towards Indian food OBVIOUSLY I was misguided somewhere along the way as this looks so yummy.

Thanks for the eye opening post.

Cathy -

The Urban Eater said...

Oooo, I'd like to be apart of the drawing. Indian is one cuisine I've just not experimented with much and have wanted too for a long time. I tried Chicken Marsala once, but it was a jar sauce. :(
So, for the 'Pay It Forward' rules, does it have to be a gift basket of Indian food items or can it be any fav cuisine?

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