An Indian Feast

Food allergies make going out to eat at best difficult and at worst dangerous.  I've learned to adapt and recreate many restaurant dishes in my own kitchen, so that my eat at home child (and his consequently eat at home parents) get to experience flavors from beyond our borders.  Still, I've never attempted a real Indian meal, even though I dearly miss going out for curry and sitting down to scoop up dal with pieces of naan and stuff myself silly on vegetables and rice in sauces that set off fireworks in previously unused sections of my taste buds.

Once even I picked up a copy of "An Invitation to Indian Cooking," so I could get my Indian fix on at home. Despite good intentions, the paperback  has sat yellowing  in the corner of my cookbook shelf for more years than I care to admit.  When I was prompted to "make a classic dish from another culture" I dusted it off and scanned the pages to discover that Madhur Jaffrey, the James Beard award winning author and teacher of authentic Indian cuisine, suggested making a grilled version of Tandoori Chicken.

Delicious, with classic Indian seasonings, but mild enough for a child's palette, it was the perfect choice.  The only necessary substitution was a non dairy yogurt, so I chose a coconut milk based one to complement the Indian flavors.

Not only was I surprised that I could make this classic dish without a clay oven, I was even more astonished when I searched through the recipe, looking to find the elusive spice which causes Tandoori chicken's distinctive red color.  The mystery ingredient turned out to be FD&C Red #40.  Madhur Jaffrey said the food coloring was optional so I left it out, making the chicken an absolutely brilliant yellow.

Tandoori Chicken
Adapted from "An Invitation to Indian Cooking" by Madhur Jaffrey

1 medium sweet onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 in chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 Tbs lemon juice
1 C coconut milk yogurt
1 Tbs ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground mace
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 C olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
5 or 6 chicken breast halves with bone, about 5 lbs
cilantro to garnish (optional)

Puree onions, garlic, ginger and lemon juice together in a blender to a smooth paste.  Combine puree with remaining ingredients in  a medium bowl and stir until combined.  Remove skin from chicken and make three parallel slices in the meat on the diagonal.  Place chicken in a zipper bag and add marinade.  Make sure all chicken is covered, squeeze out the air, close bag and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat broiler to 500F.  Line broiler pan with aluminum foil.  Place chicken in pan and pour additional marinade on them.  Cook under broiler for 20 minutes, turn over and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until pink is gone and juices are clear.  Be sure to discard any leftover marinade.

Madhur Jaffrey suggests serving the chicken with onions pickled in vinegar.  Who am I to disagree?

Onions Pickled in Vinegar
Adapted from "An Invitation to Indian Cooking" by Madhur Jaffrey

1/2 lb white pearl onions
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, chopped (original recipe calls for dried red pepper)
2 C red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt

Peel onions, then quarter lengthwise three-quarters of the way down, leaving onions attached at the bottom.  Combine ingredients in a nonreactive container, such as a quart size glass jar.  Cover with a tight lid and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.  After initial 24 hour period, move container to refrigerator and eat onions and peppers as desired.

For side dishes I made a simple tomato, cucumber and cilantro salad  plus Indian style rice with caramelized carrots, raisins and saffron cooked in coconut milk, which was a flat out pander to The Kid's taste buds!

Coconut Rice

2 Tbs non dairy margarine (I used Earth Balance)
2 carrots cut into matchsticks
2 Tbs raw sugar
2 C water
2 C coconut milk
1/2 C yellow raisins
1 tsp saffron threads
1 tsp salt
2 C long grain rice

Heat margarine in a large, heavy bottomed pot.  Stir in carrots and sugar and saute until carrots begin to caramelize.  Add water, coconut milk, raisins, saffron and salt and bring to a boil.  Stir in rice, bring pot back to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Finally, I used the leftover coconut milk and yogurt plus some mango to make lassi for us to drink.

After all the preparation,  my son finally had a chance to try an Indian meal.  Here's The Kid's reaction to his first taste of Tandoori Chicken:  "Awesome!"

This post is my entry for Project Food Blog's second challenge:  The Classics.  Please consider voting for me at Food Buzz.  Many, many thanks to those of you who voted for me in the first one!


Life on Nanchang Lu said...

Hi Libby,
Great blog! I'm sending it straight to my sister who has a daughter with similar food allergies. Can I recommend it to my food allergy patients too?

(in addition to this great, fun, Shanghai food-blogging gig, I'm also a paediatric ER doctor. Intriguingly, serious food allergies are relatively rare here in China but commonplace at home in Australia. Don't have an answer yet for that one.)

All the best!

Harla said...

Wow! What a feast! I love Indian food! And how wonderful to have a recipe for dairy-free Tandoori Chicken! I really like So Delicious coconut milk beverages and coffee creamer, but I haven't tried the yogurt yet. Now I have a good reason to.

danatan79 said...

sounds delicious! miss you :) we should hang out sometime soon :] he looks really cute btw

Victoria said...

Looks great! I'm so glad your son got to try Indian food! It's one of my favorites :)

Alisa said...

Wow, what a spread Libby! I voted for you this morning!

Anne said...

I'm definitely going to have to try the coconut rice recipe! Looks delicious!

Amy (Sing For Your Supper) said...

Wow, you definitely went all out!! It all looks totally wonderful! Great post- you have my vote!!

kathy gori said...

Great job!!!I really enjoy seeing all the Indian choices people are making.
What a great presentation. You've got a vote from me

sweet swallows said...

My second choice after Thai was indian, and this feast looks delicious! You've definitely got my vote :)

Jennifer- Adventuresome Kitchen said...

Awesome! And congrats! It's so satisfying when your kids love what you make! GOod luck in round 2- you have my vote!!

notyet100 said...

good luck for round 2 ,..everythin looks delicious,.

Anonymous said...

Great post! A feast indeed. I voted for you!

Good luck! =)

You can check out my PFB post at :http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/864

Anonymous said...

You've got my vote! I think it's really neat that you are constantly being creative in the kitchen so that your family, especially your child, can enjoy great tasting meals without having to worry. Indian cuisine is my favorite, and my eyes lit up when I read the part about scooping up dal with some naan bread. Ohh, I need some in my life right now!

Best of luck!

Amelia PS said...

what a feast! and to make everything allergen free is an extra challenge.
The pickled onions sound delicious.
I voted you (see my post here: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/869)

Blondie and Brownie said...

So impressed with your allergen free meal! I can't have nuts myself, so I totally sympathize. You have our vote!

Jeanne said...

This whole meal certainly does sound awesome! I love Tandoori chicken, and you did an amazing job recreating the recipe. You earned my vote on this challenge!

Peggy said...

what a great recipe and I'm glad I stumbled upon your blog! Good luck!

Corliss said...

I love the description of the flavors setting off fireworks. That's a great way to describe Indian cuisine.
On my blog is an awesome Chicken Curry recipe that is gluten, dairy, nut and even sugar free.

Actually I have been looking for a Tandoori Chicken recipe. My sister in law who is Indian often shares her recipes wth me but more than often I find that I have to adapt them, and that's fine too.

Last week I saw the spice Mace at the store, what does that taste like?