Monday, April 20, 2009

Cooking Without Borders

Next month will be the 4th Birthday of Eat With Me. In the early years I wanted to try some interactive cooking activities for us all around the country and world. So with a little input from some folks, I created Cooking Without Borders. *Yes, the logo above is stolen and altered. Thank you Lawyers Without Borders, please don't sue.

The Cooking Without Borders events were fun, but I seemed to have trouble keeping them in regular rotation. We had the first event, Cashew Chicken. The second, Chicken & Leeks and later Coconut Chicken Curry. I leaned heavily on chicken, as it was the most accessible for the most people. I'll be doing the same today.

What is the purpose of Cooking Without Borders? This is an opportunity to cook the same meal together on the same night (or within a few days if that night doesn't work for you) and then we all come back together and post comments on what we liked or disliked, etc.

When I started this, many of the readers of this blog were located outside of the Washington DC area and as much as I wanted to cook and invite them over for dinner, logistically that wouldn't work. Terri in WI, did give me the idea...cook together, eat together and maybe even watch a movie together...but from different locations! Voila!!!

The “rules of engagement” are such:

-I'll provide a full grocery list for easy shopping
-Buy your groceries prior to the event date
-Event date--prepare your meal
-Enjoy your meal, hopefully
-Following the meal, submit feedback to the EAT WITH ME blog and if you have the ability, send a photo to share your meal.

The feedback will be the most important part of the event.

-Where are you located?
-Did you follow the recipe as written?
-Did you change the cooking process or ingredients?
-Would you have liked to try something different?
-What did you drink? Wine, Beer, other? How did it pair with the food?
-Overall, how did you enjoy the meal?

After a few days, I’ll compile all the comments and add my own feedback into a new blog entry for easy reference. If I receive photos, I’ll post those as well.

So, for this Cooking Without Borders, I've decided on another Indian dish; Indian Butter Chicken.

The event date will be Saturday, April 25.

I've chosen Indian Butter Chicken because I find it to be a fairly easy recipe, with great flavor. The recipe also increases very easily. I often make at least double, or more. And the extras freeze very well! And once you have the main spice, it's a fairly economical dish.

Here is your shopping list:

1 medium/large yellow onion
fresh ginger, about a two inch knob
jalapeno, about medium size, depending on your tolerance for the heat.
1-1 1/2 pounds, boneless/skinless chicken breast
6 ounce can of tomato paste
One can of low-sodium Chicken broth*
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
Unsalted butter**
Garam Masala spice blend***
Olive Oil

For Serving:
Fresh Cilantro

*The recipe calls for 2 cups, which is 16 oz. One can of chicken broth is 14 oz. You don't need to buy two cans.

**Being that this recipe is called Indian Butter Chicken, I ask that you use real butter and not margarine. If you don't want to use butter, skip it all together.

***Garam Masala is becoming easier to find. You might have to look around your store. Sometimes it's not going to be with the regular spices, but it will be in the International Food aisle. If you have a Whole Foods nearby, they have it and the blend is really tasty. I buy mine online from Penzey's.

One final note on this event: This recipe does call for using a food processor to make the final simmering sauce smooth. You can also use a blender if you have that. If you don't have either, you can still make this recipe, you just need a little more patience to finely dice your ingredients and you'll have a more rustic version of the sauce. No problems!

Alright folks. See you on April 25.


Dancer in DC said...

I would point out to our veggie friends that this is the type of dish that works easily with substitutions. It's really about the sauce, and not really about the meat. So you could pair this with tofu or your favorite vegetable - I think it would be especially nice with cauliflower.

Lady Brandenburg said...

I think we'll be tackling this sometime this week (relatives will be in town 4/25 and they are not an Indian food crowd). So I will be cooking this in Springfield, Virginia a little earlier than the rest of you... but I'll save my comments for after the event!

Stef said...

What about the heavy whipping cream - does that need to be full-fat? Or do they make reduced or non-fat versions?

ScottE. said...

Stef...if you wanted to try this without heavy cream, maybe some plain low fat yogurt? It will probably change the flavor some, from the tang of the yogurt. Maybe you could use 1/2 & 1/2. Don't use milk.

I'm not sure low or no fat heavy cream exists.

Mia said...

Well, we did have a wedding for Saturday, but the engagement was called off a few months ago, so I actually have Saturday free. Count me in!

Stef said...

I've looked up a few recipes online for low-fat butter chicken, and they vary on using low fat plain yogurt, fat free sour cream, or fat free evaporated milk. Interesting! I may give this a shot over the weekend and comment on what the low fat / low sodium versions are like. Intriguing!

Lady Brandenburg said...

Stef - my mom replaces heavy cream in recipes with fat free half and half. I didn't do it for this recipe, but it's a thought.

We made this Tuesday night last week and LOVED it so much we called ScottE that night to thank him. Here are my notes:

We had tomato paste on hand, but didn't realize until it came time to put it in that it was "Italian Herb" tomato paste. I don't think it made a bit of difference in the taste of the final dish, it was just something that was kind of funny.

We used salted butter because that's what we had on hand.

We served it with a side of fresh spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic. This is what I always serve when I make chicken with one of the Trader Joes Indian simmer sauces. We like it.

I had beer with it (I always like beer with Indian food), Lord B had his usual rum and coke. I think beer and Indian food are a great combo.

After our first helping, we got seconds, and the seconds tasted even better. It had kind of cooled a little on the stove and I guess it had more time to sit and absorb the flavors because our seconds were YUM.

One thing I'm glad we did by the recipe, though I was tempted to do differently, was just cooking the outside of the chicken bits and then letting the rest cook in the sauce. It was tempting to fully cook the chicken first then put in the sauce, but I think because I followed the instructions, the chicken was a lot more tender than it would have been had I cooked it fully before.

We are totally ruined on the Trader Joes simmer sauces now... which is a staple in our household for a quick meal. Well, I guess we'll continue to buy them, but every time we eat them I'm sure we'll be like "wow, this does not come close to ScottE's butter chicken."

My mom came over the next day and split the leftovers with me and she LOVED it. And, I know it's authentic, because my brother lives in India, and my mom has visited him there several times, and she said she ate a lot of butter chicken while in India... and this was just as good as what she had over there. A great compliment!!!

Thank you ScottE, we are in love with this recipe and think it would be great for when company comes for dinner. A+++++

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