So here we are again with two major holidays on the same weekend.And, they’re two holidays with entirely different food requirements!One traditionally goes for brisket and matzo; the other gets lamb or ham. However, there are two common themes. The first one is eggs.Lots and lots of eggs.The second is everyone stuffs themselves silly at either one or two big dinners.But, you still have to eat something in-between all of that. Eggs with spinach and chili peppers is just the thing. It’s quick, and easy to make. And, it’s not a big, heavy meal.It’s essentially a sort of egg pancake or frittata, except with South Asian flavoring.
The other nice thing about this recipe, is it’s done in two stages, but you only need a single skillet to make it.First you cook the veggies, garlic, and ginger, then add the eggs to the same pot.Let those cook, and you’re done.Add the yogurt (or not) to serve.Depending on your affiliation, serve with toast, matzo, or just some fresh fruit. If your chili is super hot, the sweetness in the fruit will also help reduce the burn from the pepper.
Oh, and a third thing. It’s ready in about 15 minutes.So, if you’re hungry, and it’s late (as it was the first time I made this), you don’t have to wait long for a hot meal.
I adapted this from Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick and Easy Indian Cooking.In addition to reducing the amounts, I replaced the coriander with spinach. I don’t particularly like fresh coriander and I know lots of other people don’t care for it either.And, since my jalapeño pepper turned out to be really, really super hot, I added a dollop of Greek yogurt to cool it off, even though that wasn’t in the recipe.I found I liked it better that way too.
1/2 jalapeño pepper, sliced into thin rounds (keep the seeds if you prefer your food spicier, remove them if not)
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat them with a fork. Add one pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper.
Pour the oil into a medium size skillet and set it over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot (it will sizzle if you add a drop of water), add the scallions.
Stir the scallions in the pan with a wooden spoon and let them cook for a minute until they brown slightly.
Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds more.
Once the garlic softens, add the spinach, jalapeño pepper, ginger, and turmeric to the pan and stir briefly.
Add the lemon juice and the rest of the salt and stir that into the spinach mixture, spreading everything evenly over the bottom of the pan.
Now pour in the eggs. Pick up the pan and swirl it around so that the eggs cover the pan from side to side. It should look like an egg pancake.
Put a cover over the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for two or three minutes, until the eggs are firm on the edges and cooked through. They may be slightly brown and crispy on the edges.
Cut into wedges (like a pie) and serve topped with yogurt (if you like).
Eggs with Spinach and Chili Pepper Substitutions and Variations
use the coriander if you like it
add two or three sliced mushrooms to the vegetable mixture
toss in 1/4 C diced canned tomatoes
if you’re not a spicy food fan, replace the chili with some bell pepper
An online food group I belong to is celebrating “rice month.” The idea is to highlight a recipe featuring, well rice. Someone suggested that nearly every culture uses rice so everyone ought to be able to find something to fit the theme. Unfortunately, I come from a long line of noodle and dumpling people. So, at first I was stumped. What could I possibly make for this challenge? Then I had an idea. I could borrow a “sister” culture! Eastern European Jewish people focus heavily on noodles, but the Sephardim (from Asia, India, the Middle East, etc.) have plenty of rice dishes. So, I looked through my cookbooks and found garlic ginger turmeric rice.
It’s a Bene Israel recipe, meaning that it was created by the Jewish population in India. You might almost call it a pulao. I’ve adapted this recipe from The Book of Jewish Food. Her version served six. Mine is about three servings (because extra rice is always good; more on that later).
This particular rice dish is packed with garlic, ginger, green cardamon pods, and a pinch of turmeric for that beautiful yellow color. It’s tasty (and it fights germs too, which made it even more appealing since I’m still fighting the creeping crud!). Don’t be put off by all the garlic and the ginger, both start out spicy and sharp but mellow and become almost sweet as they cook. The cardamom adds a complex taste; it’s a bit minty, with a hint of citrus and a spicy/warm flavor. The original calls for basmati rice (which I didn’t have), but ordinary long grain white rice will do just as well. If you use the basmati rice, rinse it several times before starting to cook it.
Blend the onion, garlic, ginger, and 2 tsp of the oil in a food processor or mini chopper until it forms a paste.
Pour the rest of the oil into a saucepan (about 2 quarts). Add the whole spices (peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom to the pan and cook on medium-high for a minute or two. The smell should start to waft through your kitchen and they may pop.*
Scrape the garlic ginger mixture out of the mini chopper and add it to the pan with the spices.
Reduce the heat to low, and stir everything around until the garlic/ginger becomes fragrant.
Now add the rice, salt, and the water and stir well.
Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat. Stir the rice, and simmer, with the pot covered, over low heat for 15-18 minutes.
Once the rice is done, let it sit for a few minutes and steam.
*You can either leave the spices as is, and then make sure to pick them out of the rice when it's finished, or scoop them out into a tea ball. Then put the tea ball into the pot, and continue on with the rest of the recipe.
Turn Your Garlic Ginger Turmeric Rice Side Dish into A Main Dish
As is, this is a side dish. But with a bit of extra effort, it can become a main dish too. There are a couple of ways to do this. For example, you could make it more substantial by cooking up some chicken or adding leftover pre-cooked chicken to the rice. Or, cook up some spinach and fry and egg (in the same pan if you want), and add that to the top. You can do the same thing with the leftovers a few days. later. Instant food!
The recipe says that for special occasions, this dish was often served topped with blanched almonds and raisins. While this wasn’t a fancy occasion, I decided to do it anyway. I didn’t have blanched almonds, so I just roughly chopped a few whole ones. Soak the raisins in water a bit before you use them, in order to soften them.
We tend to think of “fusion” foods as a new idea: Asian/Cuban, Mexican/Jewish and so on and so on. The truth is people have been mixing and matching cuisines ever since we started exploring (or on a less positive note, colonizing). The bright side is that exposure to new spices, flavorings, and cooking techniques can be a springboard for creative new dishes. Mulligatawny soup (which means pepper-water) is one such “fusion” food. It’s a mixture of Indian Tamil and British cooking. The Tamil cuisine brings the spiciness and the British added the meat.
This particular version of the recipe is adapted from Foodaholic. Her recipe uses red lentils (which I didn’t have). However I asked her and she said lots of recipes use rice instead. I had that, so rice it is!
I don’t have garlic paste, so I took a garlic clove and smashed it to smithereens. Just chop it up finely and then swipe the flat of a wide knife over it. Or, if you don’t mind a bit of extra cleanup, put it in a mini-chopper or a garlic press.
Finally, I used a chicken thigh, rather than chicken breast (which she uses because of picky kids). I think the chicken thigh has a better, richer flavor and I don’t have to worry about pleasing fussy eaters.
I did follow her lead in only using one pot. I can’t stand extra cleanup!
If you want the soup creamier and more elegant, remove part of it from the pan and puree the rest with a stick blender. If not, just cook it another 10 minutes for a more rustic texture.
This will make about three servings of soup. Eat one right away and save the rest in separate containers for another day.
The beauty of this Indian royal chicken cooked in yogurt recipe is that it’s delicious and can be made fairly quickly.You can just serve it with naan or make some rice to help soak up the sauce.I have adapted this from Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking, which is a great guide for making Indian meals that don’t require a lot of fuss. Plus, she wisely sticks to ingredients that are fairly easy to find outside of India. Her recipe is for four people, my version is dinner for one person.
I made a few other minor changes as well. The original recipe calls for both dried and fresh coriander.I don’t generally have fresh coriander (and if I did, it would spoil), so I used a bit more dried instead.
Make sure to remove all of the whole spices before serving. You don’t want to crunch down on a clove or a cardamom pod!
She calls for slivered almonds, but all I had was ground almonds, so I used that. I am a big believer in using what you have and not buying special ingredients for a single purpose. You can substitute slivered, or blanched if that’s easier. You might even use whole ones, or throw them in the mini-chopper to chop them up.
There’s also a fun bit of chemistry here.When you add the raisins to the hot pan, they plump up and temporarily revert back to grapes!
Indian royal chicken cooked in yogurt is ready in about half an hour and requires very little fussing. Nothing to chop, or mince. Just mix up the yogurt, brown the chicken, add a few spices, raisins, and almonds to the pan, and let the whole thing simmer. Easy.
Put the yogurt in a small bowl. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, and cayenne. Since Greek yogurt is thick, you may have to add a teaspoon or two of water to thin it a bit. Mix that all up until it’s smooth and set it aside while you season the chicken and start on the rest of the recipe.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper
Turn the heat on a burner to medium-high. Add the oil to a large skillet and heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamon pods and the bay leaf. Stir that together. Add the chicken thigh and brown it on both sides for about 2-3 minutes per side.
Once it’s brown, remove the chicken and place it in a separate small bowl or dish.
Now add the almonds and raisins to the pan and give them a quick stir. Keep an eye on the mixture because the almonds will turn brown quickly and the raisins will magically transform back into grapes. Once they do, add the chicken back to the pan.
Add some of the pan juices to the yogurt mixture and stir it around (this will keep the sauce from "breaking"). Then add the yogurt mixture to the pan.
Stir to combine everything. Increase the heat and bring the chicken/yogurt mixture to a simmer (not quite boiling). Cover, turn the the heat down to low and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir again after another 10 minutes (twenty minutes total).
Take the cover off, increase the heat slightly, and cook down the sauce until it thickens. Remove the whole spices (cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamon pods, and bay leaf) and discard them before serving.
Update: do get the cardamom pods if you can. They are definitely worth the trouble.
Substitutions and Variations for Indian Royal Chicken Cooked in Yogurt
try it with ghee (clarified butter) instead of oil, sliced onions, and ginger paste (full recipe here)
Fight the cold weather (and winter germs) with some curried chicken soup. If you’re sick, the hot soup and the spiciness of the curry will help cut through the congestion and make you feel better! If you’re healthy, you can enjoy the full flavor!
This soup is pretty low maintenance, there’s not a lot of active work involved. Just chop the veggies, add the stock, rice, and chicken, and let it simmer. And, for soup, it’s ready fairly quickly. It only takes a little over an hour to cook. I’ve been fighting a lingering cough, so I needed soup. Specifically soup with curry or something spicy to cut through the congestion and fight those germs! So I turned to the Silver Palate cookbook and made curried chicken soup. I think it’s working.
The original recipe says to use peas and defrost them first. I didn’t have any peas handy, so I used broccoli instead. Also, in this case, I don’t think that defrosting first is really necessary. Frozen veggies cook fairly quickly, unless they’re all stuck together in the box.
Making this soup is much easier (and less messy) if you have a stick blender. Just put the blender in the soup, press the button, and puree it. Otherwise, you’ll need to strain it, put the solids in a standing blender or food processor and then add some cooking liquid. Full instructions are in the recipe.
If you have the hand blender, this soup requires very little effort. Cut up the vegetables, add the stock, rice, and chicken, and just let it cook.
I’ve cut the original recipe in half, so it makes 2-3 servings instead of 4-6. Eat one right away and freeze (or save) the rest for another day.
A slightly spicy curried chicken soup with carrots.
3 T unsalted butter
1 cup (about one medium) onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 T curry powder
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 chicken thighs (bone-in)
1/4 C long grain white rice
1/2 C half-and-half*
5 ounces (about 2/3 C) frozen broccoli
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Once the butter is melted, add the onions, carrots, and the curry powder. Stir that around to combine everything.
Next, reduce the heat to a low flame (or temperature setting). Let the vegetables and curry cook on low for about 20 minutes. Stir the mixture every once in a while so it doesn't stick and cooks evenly.
Add the stock, chicken, and the rice. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it's boiling, cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer (it should bubble occasionally). Let it cook for about 25 minutes until the rice and the chicken are cooked.
Carefully remove the chicken (use tongs) and set it aside. Let it rest for 10 minutes until it's cool enough to handle. Once you can touch it, cut it up into small pieces and keep it separate on the cutting board for now.
If you have a hand blender, stick it in the pot and puree the soup. If not, strain the soup into a bowl and put the solids into a blender or food processor with about one cup of liquid. Blend until smooth, adding more cooking liquid if necessary. Then put everything back in the pot.
Add the half-and half to the pot (if using), along with the diced chicken. Discard the bones, or save them for stock. Add the broccoli (or peas) and heat the soup for 15 minutes until the vegetebles are cooked.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
*It's supposed to be creamy chicken curry soup. I forgot to add the cream. It was delicious without it. You can also add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on top.
This week’s recipe was going to be something else, but then I realized I hadn’t defrosted it.Oops. No matter, this Indian fish fillet in yogurt sauce recipe will do quite nicely instead.You’ll just have to wait for the other recipe!
This is adapted from The Wednesday Chef , who in turn adapted it from Madhur Joffrey.Since the amounts are smaller, you don’t have to heat up the oven. You can make this in the toaster oven instead. It heats up more quickly and it’s easier to clean too!
All you have to do is lightly fry some onions, pour them onto a tray, season and mix the yogurt, and then pour all of that over the fish.
It’s maybe ten minutes of prep, and 20 minutes of baking.While it bakes, pour yourself a glass of wine or a beer or make some rice to go with it. Or both.
You end up with a rich, creamy sauce that tastes indulgent (but isn’t, since it’s yogurt, not cream). So no need to feel guilty.
The garam masala, ginger, and cumin add a bit of bite, but not too much (unless you want it spicier, of course). It’s pretty easy and approachable for Indian food.
Fish Fillets in Yogurt Sauce, creamy indulgence without any guilt.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
1/2 pound cod (or haddock or halibut) fillet
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
generous pinch garam masala
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger*
1 T butter (optional)
Remove the tray from your toaster oven. Start by preheating the toaster oven to 350. While that’s warming up, heat the oil in a small skillet. Then add the sliced onion. Cook that until you can see through the slices. This should take about five minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the onions from the pan and scatter them over the toaster oven tray. Cut the fish into small pieces (about 2 inches) and arrange the pieces over the onions on the tray.
Take a small bowl and mix together the remaining ingredients (except the butter). If the mixture is too thick, thin it out with a teaspoon or two of water. Pour that over the fish and the onions and stir it around to cover the fish completely on both sides.
Cover the tray with foil, place it in the hot toaster oven and cook for about 20 minutes. The fish is done when it’s white and flakes easily with a fork.
If you want a thicker sauce, pour the sauce from the tray into a small saucepan, heat it to boiling, and then slowly add the butter.
* I grated the ginger using my microplane. If you don't have one, just use a cheese grater.
Substitutions and Variations for Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce
Add some curry to the sauce for more kick
Try pan frying the fish (about three-five minutes per side); add the yogurt sauce at the end, off the heat so it doesn’t curdle
There are some nights when you want dinner and you want it quick. This easy tuna curry can be made in just a few minutes. Just cut up a bit of onion, chop some garlic, grate some ginger, and open a can of tuna. Yes, canned tuna.
If you make extra rice in advance (as I usually do), you just have to heat that up and you have dinner. It’s curry in a hurry.
I adapted this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking. Her recipe made two or three servings, which I have reduced. She calls for fresh chopped cilantro (which I never have, so I used a bit of dried coriander, which is the same thing). If you do have the fresh version, use 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons.
I have simplified the preparation a bit. Rather than slicing the onions into rounds, I chopped them. I grated the ginger with my microplane zester, instead of slicing it into strips; I didn’t want to bite down on big hunks of ginger! Besides, this way is faster.
This easy chicken curry recipe is a quick and delicious way to get the taste of Indian food without a lot of work. The original recipe came from The New York Times (I think), but I had to put my own spin on it. It only requires a few ingredients and a small skillet and you can put the whole thing together in fifteen minutes. Just perfect when you’re hungry and in a hurry!
If you don’t have Greek yogurt, you can use sour cream instead. As a bonus, sour cream is more heat-resistant than yogurt so you can add it directly to the pan, rather than dirtying a separate bowl. I use the yogurt because I prefer the flavor. Also, it seems more authentic to use curry instead of sour cream.
Garam masala is a spice mixture (kind of like curry, every mixture and every manufacturer is a bit different). It adds warmth and savor to the dish (not spiciness).
1 boneless chicken breast or chicken thigh, cut up
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
Heat oil in small skillet on medium high heat. After a minute or two, add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook the onion, stirring, until it becomes clear. This should take about 5 minutes.
Turn down heat to medium. Add half the curry powder and cook for another minute or so.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, plus the remaining curry powder, garam masala (if using) and the cumin. Push the onions to one side of the pan, away from the heat.
Add the chicken and cook about 2 minutes. Turn the meat on the other side and cook another two minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside on a plate.
Turn the heat down to very low, and wait a minute or two until the pan cools slightly. Measure the yogurt into a cup and add some of the pan drippings. Stir it around to blend (this will keep the yogurt from curdling when you add it to the pan). Add the yogurt mixture to the pan and stir it into the onions. Keep stirring until it gets hot again.
Put the chicken back in the pan, add the jalapeño pepper and cook another 2 minutes. Turn after halfway cooked.
Remove from pan and serve.
I served this over jasmine rice, along with a side dish of cabbage seasoned with ginger, garam masala, and red pepper flakes.
Chicken Curry Recipe Variations and Substitutions:
If you don’t have jalapeño pepper, add a pinch of red pepper flakes along with the curry
Add some ginger
If you don’t have boneless chicken, cut up a bone-in thigh, or just start the chicken first, cook it for ten minutes, then add the onions, and follow the rest of the recipe (with the bone-in thighs, the recipe will take about 25 minutes total).
Recommended Tools and Ingredients
Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking I love Indian food, but I used to find it a bit intimidating, because it’s not as familiar to me as a home cook. However, this cookbook made that a lot easier (and I use it quite a bit).
My favorites are quick chicken korma, lamb with spinach, fish fillets in curry sauce, and curried tuna (the canned kind, not fresh). Most of the recipes take less than 30 minutes to prepare.
Many Indian cookbooks use ingredients that can be hard to find if you don’t live in an area with a large Indian or Pakistani population. I have some excellent spice stores near me, but many don’t.
That’s one reason this cookbook caught my eye. He gives you the standard ingredients, and then tells you how to “cheat” if you don’t have them available. It makes the food much more accessible. The recipes are easy to follow and have 10 ingredients or less.
An essential mixture for Indian cooking. It’s a blend of 11 different spices, so it’s full of flavor. Great for chicken (like this recipe), or use it on eggs, lentils, or veggies. It’s got cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg so the flavor is “warm” and aromatic, rather than spicy or hot.