Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cooking With Katch Part I: Dinner


     Katch came back to the kitchen on Sunday! For those who don't know, Katch is a free-lance photographer (who has her own blog: http://katchiree.com/blog/). She came to take pictures for my blog once before when I made the blood orange olive oil cake and the coconut chicken curry. On Sunday, we went with the same theme: one curry and one dessert. Life is so easy when one is consistent! And that way I get one guilty pleasure and one staple meal for the week, so everyone's happy.

     I love cooking with Katch because someone else is taking pictures! Which means I don't have to wash my hands every five minutes in order to use the camera (I wonder if I told you that last time too, well, it makes me Really happy so I'm just emphasizing). Also, then the pictures come out looking beautiful and amazing. Even when they are of such unbeauteous things as mushrooms. Though, I do love mushrooms.

     While KK was visiting this weekend, she also bought these mangosteens. These are a fruit I had never heard of before. They taste kind of like sweet tarts inside, and they are very hard and tough to open unless you have a knife (as we found out while trying to eat them on the train home from H-Mart - where we bought them). I'm not sure I like the taste, but they are very interesting to look at, so I saved some for Katch to photograph:

     And then we actually started cooking. We made the dessert (to be displayed tomorrow) first, but I am posting the curry today (obviously). It is a fancier curry than normal, which also seems to be a theme when Katch is around. Why is it fancy? Because it has cashews! And a couple of extra spices I don't normally use. The difference a few ingredients makes astounds me.

     Look at the picture below, doesn't this look more like a restaurant curry? Slightly thicker, a little creamier, and all because of a little change in ingredients and technique. So, when you are in the mood to try something a little more upscale than my homey cooking, try out this curry! The ingredient list only looks long because I used more than the regular number of spaces. More importantly, this curry tastes just as gorgeous as it looks. The chicken is ridiculously tender, hurrah for chicken thighs, the cashews add a little crunch but melt away in one's mouth, and the curry itself is spicy and thick and full of the subtle flavors of all the different spices. It makes me want to go home and eat more right now.  If only.


Cashew Chicken Curry

4 large Chicken Thighs, De-skinned and De-boned
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 mid-sized Yellow Onion, Finely Chopped
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Coriander
1 tsp Garam Masala
3 Green Cardamom Pods
6 Black Peppercorns 
2 1/2 tbsp Plain Yogurt
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
1/3 cup Cashews, Finely Chopped (or Processed in a Food Processor or Grinder)
1 cup Cremini Mushrooms, Sliced
1 cup Water 
1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice

Chicken Prep: Trim the chicken thighs and cut them into 1'' cubes. While chopping onion, garlic, cashews, soak the pieces of chicken in a large bowl of water with a tablepoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar until they are needed.

For the Curry: 

First, heat the oil in a large saucepan at medium heat. Add the pieces of chicken (do in more than one batch if adding all the chicken will crowd the pan) and cook the chicken on both sides, so each piece is sealed. Take the pieces of chicken out and place them in a bowl, setting aside for later. Return the pan to the heat, add more oil if necessary, and add the chopped onions and garlic, sauteeing until the onions are translucent and the garlic is slightly browned. Then, add the turmeric, coriander, and garam masala. After stirring and frying for a minute, add the peppercorns and cardamom pods. After allowing them to fry for two minutes, add the yogurt and tomato paste. Fry up while stirring constantly, allowing all the ingredients to combine thoroughly. Add the cashews and continue stirring until they are coated in the spice mixture. Add the mushrooms, the chicken, the cup of water, and the lemon juice. Stir everything together and let it cook at medium heat for five minutes. Then, reduce the heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for ten minutes. The chicken and mushrooms should be tender and the curry should be fairly thick. If this is not the case, lower the heat and continue simmering for another five minutes.

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