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This is my version of a Navratan Korma, which is an Indian curry dish. Navratan means nine gems and this usually refers to the vegetables, fruits, or nuts in the curry. I cut down on the fat—which is why the color is a pale orange instead of a bright yellow—, but not the the flavor and depth of this vegetarian dish.

 

Ingredients:

  • very fresh tomatoes (enough to fill a whole sheet pan when cut)
  • olive oil or wegmans basting oil
  • 1/2 a head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 3/4 of a 16  oz. can 0f coconut milk
  • 4-5 tablespoons plain, greek yogurt
  • 1 zucchini, cut into cubes
  • 1 squash, cut into cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt, pepper, turmeric
  • a handful carrots, chopped
  • broccoli (similar amount)
  • ground coriander (few pinches)
  • garam masala (few pinches)
  • red curry powder (few pinches) It’s spicy
  • a handful of whole, unsalted cashews
  • 3 small waxy potatoes
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk (whatever fat content you like)
  • 1 cup of peas
1. Cut the tomatoes (large-bite size) and scatter, filling an entire foiled sheet pan. Roast them on 400º for about 30 minutes with olive oil and seasonings (I used a Wegmans basting oil blend). In a blender or food processor, purée.
2. Roast the cauliflower in the same manner, but only for about 15 minutes.
3. Cook the tomato sauce in a pot with the coconut milk. Add the greek yogurt and stir until homogenous.
4. Sauté the zucchini and squash in olive oil with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and two pinches of turmeric and par-cook the broccoli  and carrots however you choose. I parboiled the carrots until just cooked through and used frozen broccoli. Add all these vegetables to the pot.
5. Add the spices to the curry: turmeric, ground coriander, garam masala, and red curry powder. Salt and continue to season to taste. Add the cashews. Microwave the potatoes until fork tender and cut into bite-size pieces, adding them to the curry.
6. Add the cream or milk . You can adjust richness by adding more coconut milk, cream, or yogurt. Although I didn’t, butter would be a good addition since most recipes call for ghee. When the consistency is perfect, cover the pot, If it reduces too much, add a bit of water.
7. Add half of the peas. Serve over basmati rice (add the remaining peas to this). Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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With this dish, authenticity was on the back-burner, but taste and creativity was on full heat. My no-curry curry features the flavors of indian spices and techniques, while a few twists, like coconut milk and lemongrass, give a subtle element of thai cuisine. Served with basmati rise, the dish is indian food without the fat cholesterol and you can control the spice. Best of all, it’s as easy as 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9… Okay, it may not be as simple as shake-n-bake, but the results are well worth it.

Ingredients: (Spices should be used to taste)

  • Basmati rice
  • Can of Coconut milk
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 4-5 thick ginger slices
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large white/yellow onion
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander
  • 2 teaspoons Garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • About 10 mini peppers (red, yellow, orange)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of tomato paste
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 5-7 garlic cloves
  • A small bag of snow peas
  • 1/2 bag of pre-cooked lentils
  • 3 whole chicken breasts (about 3 pounds) cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or 1 stick early on
  • cumin seeds
  • frozen peas
  • fresh parsley

Follow the directions to start cooking basmati rice. It takes about 20 minutes. I’m keeping this simple since it will be under the sauce.

Start heating a can of coconut milk in a small sauce pan with the lemongrass and ginger. Keep it at a calm boil until the flavors merry.

In a large pot, sauté the onion with salt and pepper, coriander, garam masala, and turmeric. After the onions have a head-start, add the peppers. Stir in the tomato paste, and the bay leaves. Press or mince the garlic, and make a paste by smearing the garlic against the cutting board with your knife, salt, and olive oil. Add the snow peas.

Hold a strainer over the pot and pour the coconut milk through it (the coconut milk will join the party and lemongrass will have to leave. Ginger’s pon the list, so pick that out and add it back to the pot. Add half the lentils.

Quickly sauté the chicken in olive oil, salt, and pepper (it may take multiple batches) until it is opaque and pour into the pot. You may also cook it completely in the sauce which will take longer, but could turn out very well. Add the cinnamon. If you want, add a little yogurt at the end for some healthy richness.

Fluff the rice with cumin seeds—toasting in a pan until fragrant is a nice touch. Microwave some frozen peas and fold in for great color. To serve, build a mound of rice, ladle the sauce over, and garnish with chopped parsley leaves. Serve with some naan.

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We walked into Tandoori Time with a craving for a rich and piquant Indian dinner. Undoubtedly, we were the only customers in the entire restaurant. The dazed bartender stared at the empty seats, wiping off areas that he had already cleaned. The slouching waiter greeted us with much anticipation.

We were seated immediately at one of the many open tables and were given two of the cleanest water glasses that I have ever seen—probably the bartender’s doing. Jordan spent the time photographing the glass in black and white—he could find art on the bottom of my shoe—, while I perused the menu.

I looked past the kabobs, the lentil soups, and the seafood, spotting the true test of an Indian restaurant: Chicken Tikka Masala, a dish so otherworldly that the restaurant’s description said only: “Charcoal cooked pieces of chicken in a special sauce”. Of course, it was not the elegant language that enticed me; “charcoal” and “cooked” are hardly words that make me salivate.

The Chicken Tikka Masala was flavorful, and—I will admit—“special” without being overly rich, while the onions and peppers gave texture to the sauce. However, I prefer the chicken to be cooked in the sauce, so that the sauce not only flavors the meat; it tenderizes it.

We had Lamb Karahi, mildly spiced (for an Indian) and cooked with tomatoes, onions, and peppers. It had a sweeter taste with spice that hit your palate at the end. The flavor of the rice was fortified with fennel seeds and each granule doubled as a tiny vehicle for the sauce to cling on to on its way to my mouth. The lightly flavored Naan had great air pockets and was slightly chewy.

I am almost certain that Indians have an unspoken rule to constantly fill someone’s glass with water. Maybe, they’re afraid we’ll notice that our glass is half-full and leave the restaurant in outrage, dropping a penny as a tip in the little water that is left.

We truly had a relaxing and enjoyable meal, chasing the low-lying, cowering sauce on our plates with pieces of Naan. The waiter mentioned the dessert menu. Notwithstanding the fact that Indian desserts are notoriously nasty, the names are unappetizing: “Gulab”, “Burfi”, and “Badam”. “Excuse me waiter, I’ll have the Glob, the Barf, and the Bottom”. I don’t think so! I will stick to my Chicken Tikka Masala.

1140 19 St. NW.

Washington, DC 20036

http://www.tandooritimedc.com

 

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