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Chicken Tikka Masala

I’ve started working on ideas for an Indian Cooking Box and I have a neighbor from Northern India who is an excellent cook. She was able to explain (over Facebook messenger nonetheless!) how to make the perfect chicken tikka masala and it’s too good not to share.

There are a couple secrets to this dish. First, you can add a small amount of red food coloring to the marinade to give your chicken that pink color you see in restaurants. Second, adding cashews to the sauce and then blending it smooth adds a level of nutty, creaminess that will have you licking your plate clean.

I served this with my Indian rice recipe and it made enough for 8-10 servings (yay, leftovers!)

I used chicken thighs in this recipe because I find them more juicy and tender than breasts, but go ahead and use whichever you prefer.

First, you need to marinate the chicken for about four hours. You mix up whole milk yogurt, paprika, chili powder, flour, oil, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper and a couple drops of red food dye (optional).

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Once marinated, line a baking tray with foil and place your wire cooling rack on top. Put the marinated chicken on the rack and broil until blackened areas start to appear (the chicken will not be completely cooked through). This process cooks the marinade into the chicken.

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In a large saucepan, melt ghee (or any oil) and cook an onion and hot green pepper until browned. Add a large can of peeled tomatoes (I crush them first with my hands), cashews, red pepper flakes, garam masala, fenugreek powder (optional), and salt.

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Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 5 minutes to allow the ingredients to heat up.

Pour sauce into a blender and blend until smooth.

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Add the blended sauce back into the saucepan. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and add into the sauce. Simmer until chicken cooked through.


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Turn the heat down to low, add in some butter and cream. Mix and taste. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve with chopped cilantro and Indian style rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs chicken (skinless, boneless) thighs or breasts
  • 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt (not greek)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 inch ginger grated
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1-2 drops red food dye optional
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
Sauce
  • 2 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 1 onion sliced thin
  • 1 hot green pepper chopped
  • 1 28 oz can peeled tomatoes, crush with hands
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, roasted cashews
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek powder optional
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine the ingredients yogurt through to black pepper to create a marinade. Add in the chicken and allow to marinate for 4 hours in the fridge.

  2. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Place a wire cooling rack on top. Place your chicken on the rack in a single layer (or use a broiling pan). Broil until blackened areas appear on the chicken. (About 10 minutes). The chicken will not be cooked through.

  3. In a large saucepan, melt the ghee or butter on medium heat. 

  4. Add the onion and pepper and cook until browned.

  5. Add the peeled tomatoes, cashews, red pepper flakes, garam masala, fenugreek powder, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

  6. Pour sauce into a blender and blend until smooth.

  7. Pour the sauce back into the saucepan. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces and add into the saucepan.

  8. Simmer until chicken in cooked through

  9. Reduce heat to low and add butter and cream. Adjust seasonings as desired.

  10. Garnish with cilantro and serve with Indian rice.

Indian Rice
Ingredients
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp whole green cardamom
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
Instructions
  1. Rinse the rice three times to remove the excess starch.

  2. In a medium saucepan, boil the water with the cardamom and cumin seeds.

  3. Add the rinsed rice and stir. Return to a boil.

  4. Reduce heat to low and cover for 20 minutes.

  5. Remove the cardamom pods from the top of the rice.

  6. Fluff with fork and serve.

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Layered Chicken Taco Salad with a side of Mexican love

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Mexico…it has a special place in my heart. This is where I met my husband. A series of calamitous events had landed me depressed and dejected in Cabo san Lucas. It all started when I was laid off from my government job following the stock market crash of 2008. I made the very responsible decision to spend my new found freedom on vacation in Mexico. I booked a charter trip with my friend to Puerto Vallarta. Shortly before our trip started, a tropical storm formed just off shore of our resort. Perfect…at least the storm matched my mood. My friend and I arrived at the airport at 4am on a cold Sunday morning to catch our flight to Mexico. The Vancouver International Airport is HUGE, but even for that early hour the terminal seemed eerily quiet. We followed the signs to our check in counter, but no one was there. In fact, there was NO ONE in the entire airport! After wandering around aimlessly, we saw a lone soul manning an information kiosk. She told us our flight had left the day before. UGH. I double checked my tickets and they definitely said Sunday. I felt like the universe was conspiring against me and my ill advised vacation. We left the airport feeling frustrated and confused. I was resigned to drinking tea in bed for a week, but my friend was a lawyer and insisted we should just book a new vacation. She was sure that we wouldn’t have to pay for it. So….we booked a slightly NICER vacation resort….and we moved the destination to Cabo to avoid the tropical storm. Once we finally arrived, a group of American guys followed us around all week. The quiet one who mostly read a book while nursing a calf injury looked me up on social media when he got home. A couple years later we were married. Oh, and VISA paid for our entire trip to Cabo since the initial trip was booked through their travel rewards program. Maybe the universe was conspiring…just not against me.

I loved the food at our Mexican resort. My friend and I left 10lbs heavier, and we were only there a week! I LOVE Mexican food. That being said, I should probably move on to this light and delicious salad (which won’t result in a massive weight gain!). It’s perfect for a summer lunch or dinner and the dressing is what makes it so yummy. The layers of crunchy chips, juicy chicken and crisp peppers soak up the flavors of the dressing. Use a glass bowl if you have one to show off the layers.

In the morning, bake or BBQ some chicken to shred for the salad. Also prepare the dressing ahead of time so that the flavors can blend together over time in the fridge.

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My next post will describe how to make the perfect MARGARITA, which would pair nicely with this salad. Visit my facebook page and click on the “follow” button so you don’t miss it!

Click HERE for The Blue Radish on Facebook

LAYERED CHICKEN TACO SALAD
Ingredients
  • 3 cups romaine lettuce chopped
  • 3 cup spinach
  • 3 large roma tomatoes chopped
  • 1 can whole kernel sweet corn
  • 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 red pepper chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 4 green onions chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups colby/monterey jack cheese shredded
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • 1 1/2 cups tortilla chips broken into medium sized pieces
  • 2 avocado sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
Dressing
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp onion finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Instructions
Dressing:
  1. Mix all ingredients in a large jar that seals. Shake well to blend. Place in fridge for at least three hours prior to use. Shake again before serving

Salad:
  1. In a large glass bowl, place romaine lettuce and spinach on the bottom.

  2. Next layer tomatoes, then corn, black beans, red pepper, shredded chicken, green onions, and cheese

  3. Mix 3/4 cup of the dressing with 3/4 cup of salsa. Stir to mix

  4. Drizzle dressing/salsa mixture over the cheese

  5. Top with tortilla chips

  6. Garnish with avocado, cilantro and a little left over corn and red pepper for color

 

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Spiced Lamb Turnovers and all things Persian

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The Ancient Kingdom of Persia was always known for it’s exemplary food. Renamed in 1935, this area is now referred to as Iran. Politics aside, to ignore this country’s cuisine would be a true tragedy. Their culinary history is rich with the flavors of fragrant spices, sweet pomegranates, cool mint, slow cooked meats and warm roasted nuts.  When I was writing my cookbook, my Persian friend invited me and my mom over to her house to learn about Persian Cooking. It was a magical afternoon where she shared everything from the proper way to serve tea to how your rice should “dance” in the pot when it was boiling. She stressed to us that “presentation is everything” and that taking this extra step when cooking for others is considered crucial in her culture.

After greeting us the front door, my friend poured us a sweet and sour drink called SEKANJABIN. It was a refreshingly cold drink that reminded me of my travels through Jordan. It’s perfect for a hot summer afternoon with friends.

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The syrup is made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. You pour a couple of tablespoons into the bottom of a glass, add ice and cold water, and stir. Garnish with shredded cucumber, fresh mint leaves and a lime rind. I will post the recipe at the end of this blog.

I learned how to make Persian style Basmati rice. Slightly boiled, but mostly steamed, this rice should be drier than that North Americans tend to serve. Her Jeweled Rice, which graces the cover of my cookbook, is traditionally served at weddings. It’s named for the colors displayed by the saffron infused rice, sour red barberries and bright green pistachios. The recipe is in my cookbook so I won’t repeat it here, but her food was so delicious that I went on the hunt for the ingredients. I couldn’t get over the flavor combinations.

One ingredient that is used to both decorate and flavor many dishes is rose petals. I thought it would be hard to find food grade rose buds, but I saw them at my local Asian store.

I ground some up in my mortar and saved it in a jar. The aroma is divine and so is the taste.

Back to my gorgeous afternoon. My friend served us the Jeweled Rice with a saffron chicken dish (also in the cookbook), herbed yogurt and pickled vegetables. It was delicious, and that’s an understatement.

After lunch, she served us tea. She placed cardamom pods in the kettle with the water to boil and then poured the hot water through loose leaf tea brought in from England. She set her hourglass timer to the appropriate steeping time and explained that tea should be served in glass cups, so that the deep colors could be enjoyed.

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Motivated after this amazing spread I searched for Persian recipes where I could find all the ingredients at my local grocery store. What I found was Spiced Lamb Turnovers. I spent the extra time on presentation as my friend suggested and I ended up with a beautiful dish. These take time to make, but they’re well worth it. The garnish adds quite a bit of taste, so don’t skip this important step. This recipe makes about 4 dozen, but they freeze extremely well.

Click HERE to order my cookbook

SPICED LAMB TURNOVERS
Ingredients
  • 3 boxes puff pastry thawed 40 mins
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 onion diced fine
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup fresh tarragon chopped
  • 2 cups fresh Italian parsley chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mint chopped
  • 1 cup pistachios ground (use food processor)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
For wash:
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp milk
For garnish:
  • ground pistachio
  • ground rose petals (available at asian stores)
  • powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. In a large frying pan heat the oil on medium heat till hot. Add in lamb, onion and garlic. Add 1 tbsp water and cover. Lower heat to medium-low and cook for 15 mins.

  2. Add remaining ingredients and turn heat up to medium. Cook uncovered for 15-20 mins or until mixture fairly dry. Make sure to break up lamb into small pieces.

  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  4. Take out puff pastry and cut into 3 inch rounds using a cookie cutter or jar.

  5. Add 2 tsp filling to each round. Fold into a half moon and pinch closed. Place on a cookie tray.

  6. Brush egg wash on tops of turnovers

  7. Freeze extra turnovers on tray. You may transfer them to a bag or container once frozen. (This prevents sticking.)

  8. Bake for 20 mins or until golden brown.

  9. Remove from oven and garnish. Use whole rose buds to decorate your serving platter.

Recipe Notes

To PIN this recipe click on the thumbnail image and then the P icon

 

Sekanjabin
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (you may add up to 2 tbsp more to taste if desired)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint
  • 1 small seedles cucumbers peeled and shredded for garnish
  • 1 lime for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan. Heat on medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves

  2. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10-15 minutes

  3. Add the vinegar and simmer for 30 minutes or until mixture thickens into a syrup. Taste and adjust amount of vinegar/sugar to taste

  4. In the last 2-3 minutes, add in the bunch of fresh mint

  5. Remove from heat and cool completely

  6. Remove mint leaves before serving

  7. When ready to drink, pour a couple tablespoons of the syrup into a cup. Top with ice and water. Stir

  8. Garnish with shredded cucumber, fresh mint and a lime rind

 

 

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Welcome to the Blue Radish Food Blog!

Hello world! Welcome to my food blog. I’m Jenny and obviously love to cook. I have four kids… yes, FOUR. Two teenagers and two toddlers. YIKES. Needless to say, my days consist of laundry, sweeping and cooking. The laundry and sweeping are pretty tedious, but the cooking, it keeps me sane. I’m originally from the west coast of Canada and moved to New Jersey 7 years ago. Here, being so close to NYC, I discovered the plethora of ethnic restaurants on my doorstep. Ethiopian, Portuguese, Afghani, Persian and Italian…oh delicious, Italian food. I wanted to learn how to make it all. Of course, for me, cooking is messy with multiple interruptions thanks to the toddlers. It’s like they have an uncanny ability to start coloring the walls just when I hit a critical part of a recipe. Thank goodness for magic erasers! It may take me 2+ hours to cook a 1 hour dish, but we muddle through.

Also chickens, because I have so much spare time (insert sarcasm). I love my chickens (no sarcasm). They give me fresh, yummy eggs in all sorts of colors. Did you know some chickens lay blue eggs? These quirky birds have all kinds of personality and my kids are always entertained by them. Well, until the coop needs cleaning!

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So kids, chickens and cooking. I should probably get back to the cooking since that’s why you’re here. My hope is to share with you my journey as I attempt to “cook around the world” in search of the best dishes each culture has to offer.

I’m still new to this whole blogging world and it’s a bit “techy” so forgive me if the site is a little rough at first. When my little ones head back to preschool in September I’m going to attempt to provide cooking videos to accompany the recipes.

To celebrate the first blog I’m going to share my Dad’s famous Mango Martini recipe. He and my mom once spent an entire boozy afternoon perfecting it. It’s delish!

Please subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss my next recipe. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it private and you won’t be getting junk mail!

MANGO MARTINIS

Servings: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 mango
  • 2 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz peach schnapps
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water)
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
Instructions
  1. Put ingredients into a blender with 2 cups of ice and blend. Pour into chilled martini glasses and garnish with blueberries or raspberries (frozen or fresh)

Recipe Notes

If you use 1:1 simple syrup, just double the amount

To PIN this recipe click on the thumbnail image and then the P icon