Category Archives: Indian

Cinnamon Curry Roasted Chicken with Tomato Yogurt Sauce

One of the most common questions I get is “What’s the easiest and most impressive dinner I can make for friends?” My response is always Roasted Chicken. It’s relatable, always delicious and easy to make.  There are so many different varieties — herb roasted, lemon pepper, cajun, the possibilities are left to your imagination.  You can pair it with a salad, or rice, any type of veggie, I guarantee your guests will leave with happy stomachs and a full heart!

There’s something magical about roasted chickens — perhaps it’s the down-to- earth simplicity, the intoxicating flavors and smells, the comfort that seems to spread to the deepest corners of your soul — okay got a little overly dramatic there, but you get the idea.

Today I am taking a page from the big boss, Oprah Winfrey, is there anything that woman can’t do?  In the Oprah Magazine Cookbook I found this beautiful recipe for a Cinnamon Curry Roasted Chicken.  I made a few changes which I will note in parentheses and then came up with two sides that I felt would pair well — Coconut Basmati Rice and some Saffron Garlic Skillet Potatoes.  The flavors of the spices were out of this world, I loved the boldness of the cardamom and the spicy sweetness of the cinnamon.  O-M-G talk about flavor heaven!  The recipe was by Chef Rori Trovato — “It’s a little bit sweet, a litte bit daring.  It’s cinnamon, and it’s probably sitting right there in your pantry.”

Ingredients for Cinnamon Roasted Chicken: (Makes 2-3 servings)

  • 1 (3-4 lb) roasting chicken
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 green cardamom pods ( I used 5)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder (I also added 1/2 Tbsp of Garam Masala powder)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I also added 1/2 tsp red chili powder)
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled, plus 6 cloves, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 shallots, unpeeled and quartered
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Ingredients for Tomato Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt, room temperature (I used fat-free)
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro

***I also brined the chicken, it retains more moisture in the meat.  I have included the ingredients and direction below.

Ingredients for Brine:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 green cardamom pods ( I used 5)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder (I also added 1/2 Tbsp of Garam Masala powder)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I also added 1/2 tsp red chili powder)
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled, plus 6 cloves, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 6 cups ice water

Take your spices and ground them in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.  For the brine, combine the water, salt, sugar, and spices in a large saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Reduce to heat to low and simmer for 10 min so the flavors of the herbs can be drawn out. Pour the brine into a deep set large bowl and cool it down with your ice water.  Set aside.

Clean the chicken by rinsing out the cavity and outer skin and place on a clean surface.  Be sure not to contaminate any vegetables or other ingredients, because no one is a fan of salmonella!  Place the chicken in the brine,  make sure it is completely immersed in the brine.  Cover and allow to marinate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

To make the chicken: Preheat oven to 400F.  Pat chicken dry with paper towels.  Place on a rack in a small roasting pan or baking dish.  Set aside.  In a small frying pan over medium heat, combine cumin seeds, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, and cardamom pods.  Swirl until lightly toasted and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly; grind using a mortar and pestle (or a coffee grinder).  Mix with curry powder, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes.

Finely chop peeled garlic cloves and combine with ginger and olive oil in a small bowl.  Rub mixture over entire chicken.  Sprinkle with salt, then with spice mixture.  Place unpeeled garlic, shallots, and cinnamon sticks inside chicken cavity.  Tie legs with kitchen string.  Roast 30 minutes before basting with 1/2 cup chicken broth.  Roast 20 minutes more, then baste with remaining 1/2 cup broth.  Continue cooking until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife and meat is no longer pink, about 1 hour and 15 minutes total.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.

To make the sauce: Transfer juices from pan into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Slowly add in the yogurt, stirring constantly with a whisk so yogurt doesn’t curdle.  Remove from heat.  Add most of the tomatoes and cilantro, setting some aside to garnish top of the chicken.  Serve with sauce on side.

Ingredients for Saffron Garlic Skillet Potatoes:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 pound boiling or baking potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of saffron

n a small bowl stir together the butter and the oil along with the saffron and garlic. In a food processor fitted with a 1-millimeter slicing blade or with a mandoline or similar hand-held slicing device, slice the potatoes thin. Working quickly to prevent the potatoes from discoloring, brush the bottom of a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with some of the butter mixture and cover it with a layer of the potato slices, overlapping them. Brush the potatoes with some of the remaining saffron buttermixture and season them with salt and pepper. Layer the remaining potatoes with the remaining saffron butter mixture in the same manner.

eat the mixture over moderately high heat until it begins to sizzle, transfer the skillet to the middle of a preheated 450°F. oven, and bake the galette for 25 minutes, or until it is golden and the potatoes are tender. Cut the galette into wedges or you can cut them with a circle cutter.

Ingredients for Coconut Basmati Rice:

  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Basmati rice

In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, water, sugar, and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in rice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18 to 20 minutes, until rice is tender.

Epic Indian Feast

One of the many beauties in life is friendship, we are able to learn so much from each other when we open our hearts and our homes.  I would like to dedicate this meal to one of Collin and I’s dearest friend, Bijeta Chakraborty! She along with Kumar, Aditya and Sanjay lived in Dallas for a year for an engingeering development program with Collin at Texas Instruments.  Back then Collin and I were living out in Wylie,TX in our trailer (I will reserve that story for another day), and seeing that #1 I lived in a trailer, therefore many friends were hesitant to come over and “hang out” and #2 I lived all the way out in Wylie,TX which to many people who live in the city, is in the middle of no where.  It was lonely out there, it literally was just me, Collin and the cows. (If only I had known you Alta back then!)

Then one day Collin told me a few of his coworkers had invited us over Saturday for dinner who recently moved here from India. My eyes instantly lit up, I have never had a home cooked Indian meal before — my tummy could hardly wait.  That week the days honestly seem to creep by, I almost felt weary with (Indian food) craving exhaustion but Saturday FINALLY arrived.  I remembered specifically wearing loose fitting pants that night because I had my game face on and I was ready to CHOW DOWN.  I love Indian food for several reasons: the COLORS — the greens, yellows, reds, and the beautiful smells of the SPICES, it’s as if I could just eat forever and ever.  But the best reason that makes Indian food not only fun to eat, but simply an art,  is the beauty of eating the various flavors on your plate using your hands.  I don’t know why Indian food tastes better when you use your hands but I highly recommend that everyone tries it.

Even before arriving at Bijeta’s door, you could already smell the magic brewing half way down the hallway.  And let me tell you what, the food that night was magical indeed — the crispy potato samosas, curried cauliflower, fried fish curry, chicken curry, paneer (from scratch), chutneys, yogurt, perfectly cooked basmati rice, and ending with a deliciously fragrant kheer.  By the time I was done I could hardly breathe,  but boy was I one happy camper! It was nice to experience a part of their culture through food, it’s definitely one of my favorite ways of learning from people of different backgrounds.  Though our native languages may be different, and at times communication can be hard — food will always be universal, a common ground that all cultures share and understand.

It was nice to learn (and taste) from Bijeta, Aditya and Sanjay, we exchanged stories of our families, our backgrounds, and even battled over a few games of Wii Sports.  By the time we were leaving, I felt as if they’ve been my friends for many years — and for the rest of the time they lived in Dallas we hung out with them often.  We had more dinner get togethers, a music concert, and even grabbed some brewskies to check out to the “American bar scene”.  When it was time for them to leave both Collin and I were really sad to see them go, but happy that we’ve made lifelong friends.  Since then, Bijeta and I keep in touch via e-mail and now Facebook and recently she sent me this amazing Fish Gravy recipe.

I told her I would have to dedicate a post to her featuring her amazing Fish Gravy (Hi Bijeta!!) and made an Indian feast in her honor as well as Aditya and Sanjay’s as well.  Though we are thousands of miles apart, while eating this meal both me and Collin decided you guys were there in spirit 🙂 This was also my first attempt in cooking Indian food — there were so many various spices that my head almost started to spin!  But a fun adventure nonetheless and the end result was a glorious complexity of flavors.

Ingredients for Fried Tilapia with Tomato and Onion Gravy:

(serves 4)

  • 4 Tilapia fillets
  • 1/2 white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 4 green Serrano chiles, tops discarded
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon Tumeric powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon Mustard Paste
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour

  • 1/2 tablespoon Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon Onion seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon Mustard seeds
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup of water

Make a smooth paste of the onion, ginger, chiles, lemon juice, tumeric and coriander powder, mustard paste, salt and cornflour in a food processor.  Place paste in a large bowl and marinate the fish pieces for 15-20 minutes. In a small or medium-sized saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil at medium high heat.  Sear the Tilapia on both sides, about 3 minutes on each and set aside on a plate.  Remember, you do not want to overfry the fish because it will be cooked further in the gravy mixture.  Next you will make the Tomato and Onion Gravy:

Tomato Gravy:

  • 2 medium-sized Roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon Tumeric Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon red chili powder
  • salt to taste

Place ingredients into food processor and blend together.  Place in bowl and set aside.

Onion Gravy:

  • 2 medium-sized White onions
  • 1 tablespoon garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Coriander leaves
  • 1 green serrano chile, top removed

Place ingredients into food processor and blend together.  Place in bowl and set aside.

In a large heavy bottomed pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil along with the Bay leaf and Cumin, Onion and Mustard seeds.  Add the onion gravy and fry until it becomes brownish in color.  Add the tomato gravy to the mixture and fry until the two gravies become thick and paste like.  If it becomes too dry add a little more oil.  Add 3/4 cup of water and put the fried fish in the gravy and cook, covered for 10-15 minutes.  Add salt to taste.  Remove from heat and serve with Basmati rice.

For the Indian Feast I made the following items, I am not going to post all of them for the recipes are quite lenghthy, however if any of these sound interesting to you, shoot me an e mail and I will be more than happy to send them to you :).

  • Mint Sambol (Srilankan)
  • Fresh Coriander Peanut Chutney (Indian)
  • Spiced Cabbage Salad (Srilankan)
  • Cauliflower Dum (North Indian)
  • Katchhi Village Potato Curry (North Indian)

I found all of these recipes above from Mangoes & Curry Leaves – Culinary Travels through the Great Subcontinent by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.  A very wonderful book indeed, with captivating pictures of not only food but the regions from where they are from.

Ingredients for Spiced Cabbage Salad:

  • 4 cups shredded green or Savoy cabbage
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 to 3 green cayenne chiles, seeded and minced
  • 6 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or frozen grated coconut

Wash the cabbage, then put it in a medium heavy pot with the shallots, chiles, curry leaves, salt, turmeric, and cumin.  Place over medium-high heat, cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Give the pot a quick stir, cover again, and lower the heat to medium.  Simmer until the cabbage is cooked and tender, about another 10 minutes, depending on your cabbage and how finely it is shredded.  Add the lime juice and coconut and stir to mix well.  Let cook for a minute or two, uncovered, then turn out and serve, mounded on a plate.

Ingredients for Katchhi Village Potato Curry:

  • 2 tablespoons raw sesame oil, vegetable oil, or ghee
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic or garlic mashed to a paste
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 green cayenne chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon round cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Heat the oil or ghee in a wok or wide pot over medium heat.  Add 1 teaspoon garlic and cook for a minute, then add the potatoes and shallots.  Stir-fry for several minutes, until the shallots have softened, pressing the potato cubes against the surface of the hot pan, then add the chopped tomatoes and chiles and stir to blend.

Add the turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, and the remianing 1 teaspoon garlic and stir.  Add the water and salt and bring to a boil.  Cover tightly and simmer vigorously until the potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.  Check after 10 or 12 minutes to make sure there is enough liquid and that nothing is sticking; add a little more water if necessary.

I deem my first Indian cooking adventure a success!  Next time I would like to cook with lentils and more vegetarian options, it’s great to have so many delicious vegetarian options in Indian food.  Indian food also seems to taste better the next day and even better the second — the flavors of the spices are slowly drawn out by the oils creating a bolder flavor.  Bijeta, I thank you for your wonderful recipe!  It was Collin and I’s favorite dish, you were– right we loved it! Please send our love to Kumar, Aditya and Sanjay, we miss all of you dearly :).

Let’s do some Food Art!

The End.

Kheer with Pistachio Almond and Cardamom


Kheer is a rice pudding that is a very common dessert in India.  It is made from a simple yet flavorful preparation of rice and milk.  This pudding is made with either toasted rice or vermicelli and can be served warm or cold.  The essential ingredients are rice, milk and sugar but different preferences will vary the thickness or thinness of the pudding.

For those of you who are not familiar with Cardamom, it is a common spice used in Indian cuisine, native to the forests of the western ghats in southern India.  You can find ground cardamom powder or maybe even whole cardamom pods at your local grocery store in the spice aisle.  The pods are stronger in flavor, but will be more troublesome because you would have to take out the seeds and ground them.  (But well worth the effort if they are readily available)

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Ingredients for Kheer:

  • 3 – 4 cups of whole milk, diluted with 1 – 2 cups of water depending on what kind of consistency preferred (less water will make it thicker and more water will make it runny)
  • 1 cup basamati rice
  • 1 cup condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 1 tablespoon of pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon of almonds
  • 1 teaspoon finely powdered cardamom seeds


In a medium saucepan, boil the rice in the milk on medium heat until thoroughly cooked. (About 15 minutes)  Continuously whisk the milk to prevent the bottom from burning.  Slowly incorporate the condensed milk and then add the sugar, raisins, and nuts.  Continue to stir until the mixture thickens.  If you prefer the Kheer to be more of a drink than a pudding, simply add more milk and water until the preferred consistency is achieved.  Add the cardamom and garnish with nuts and cinnamon.  Can be served hot or cold.

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This is actually a great recipe if you have some left over white rice in the fridge.  It will save you the cooking time for the rice.  I sometimes add 1/2 cup of coconut milk in place of the condensed milk to the Kheer which seems to compliment the Caradmom really well.  You can also make this a low-fat recipe by using skim milk instead of whole milk and using honey or agave syrup in place of sugar.