Dal Makhani (Indian Butter Lentils)

If you like Indian food and you haven’t heard of this dish before, you may not have been paying attention. You’re likely to see this on the menu at many Indian restaurants and you also might recognize a close cousin (also very popular)–murgh makhani, a.k.a. butter chicken. This a vegetarian take on the same general dish–slowly simmered lentils (a.k.a. dal) and beans in a spiced, tomato curry enriched with a generous helping of cream and butter.

While this Punjab curry is strongly spiced, like its chicken counterpart, the richness of the dish counteracts the heat a good bit, making it a good candidate even for those who might be timid around Indian cuisine. There’s a classically spiced backbone with notes of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves, and yet the slowly simmered lentils combined with the generous cream/butter combo yields a final product that has an almost contradictory sumptuous, smooth, almost velvety mouthfeel. I don’t tend to call… click to read more…

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Indian Spiced Pear & Butternut Squash Soup

Every time of year brings memories of a few dishes with it that we all quietly pine for. Autumn and butternut squash is that mystical combo for my wife and I. In general, butternut squash soup is a pretty simple and straightforward thing, but to keep this from becoming something we grow tired of, I like to change it up every time I make it. In this case, I wanted a light starter as a prelude to a bigger dinner, but still something big and bold on flavor.

Indian Spiced Pear & Butternut Squash Soup

This soup was a delicious way to start a meal. It looks deceptively simple (like any other butternut squash soup), but has a surprisingly complex flavor. The pear added an almost unnameable but distinct tangy sweetness while the peppers and assortment of spices lent an incredibly full flavored back drop to the whole experience. I didn’t want to stick with the usual assortment of “pumpkin pie spices”… click to read more…

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Indian-Inspired Barbecue Chicken

Every now and then, I have odd cravings that don’t jive with one another, so something new is born. In this case, I wanted Indian and barbecue. There just isn’t much cross-over in that realm (as far as I know). My compromise? A whole chicken, halved, marinated tandor style, smoked, and then slathered with a tangy, strongly spiced sauce that borrows from both barbecue and Indian cuisine for style and flavor.

In reality, this is quite simple and that’s why it’s so darn good (but such is barbecue). The chicken is slowly smoked–richly flavorful, crispy skin, and surprisingly tangy from a simple marinade. Plus, whole chicken is the best (I always love a good roast chicken).

What made this different was the sauce glazed on at the end. It’s a simple barbecue sauce, but tinged with a generous helping of Indian flavors–cinnamon, cardamom, tamarind, fenugreek, cilantro, etc. The total combination worked wonderfully and had me licking my fingers clean.… click to read more…

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Rogan Josh

Learning more about Indian food has been one of my goals for this year–something I ushered in by making shahi korma. Shortly after, I had received an email from one of my readers (Rose S. in India), very kindly offering me additional Indian recipes to try. I was ecstatic and jumped at the opportunity. This recipe is one of those: a Kashmiri lamb curry, called Rogan Josh, which is cooked in a fantastic blend of very fragrant spices.

Rogan Josh

The curry had a great, smooth body with a velvetty mouthfeel and a really great blend of spices. The saffron added a nice little something on top of the other spices while the meat was very tender and rich (on account of the nice amount of ghee used. If you don’t have any ghee in your pantry–get some or make some soon!). The yogurt base to the curry gave a great tang and the… click to read more…

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Chicken Biryani

Biryani is probably one of my wife’s favorite Indian dishes. For the longest time, I didn’t really understand biryani. To me, it just seemed like somewhat spiced, brown rice with dry bits of meat thrown in. If that’s been your experience, I promise, there’s much better biryani out there–deep, complex, tangy flavors, tender chicken, and enough mixed in so it doesn’t feel like your plate is 95% rice. Biryani is a classic for a reason, and I thought I’d spread the good word now that I’ve been won over.

Chicken Biryani

So in case you never have had biryani (or good biryani, for that matter), this is a popular dish in many countries with many different styles of preparation. I only know it through Indian cuisine, so that’s the perspective I bring to this. You have long grain basmati rice, cooked like any other rice with a handful of spices infusing the grains for flavor. But this is merely a foundation–not… click to read more…

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Shahi Korma (“Royal Lamb” with a Creamy Almond Sauce)

When I eat out, I tend to avoid ordering chicken. There’s lots of spectacular chicken dishes out there, but to me, its the least exciting of meats. But when I go to Indian restaurants, its usually another story. Often, I’ll encounter lamb (or mutton)-based curries, but what this has usually amounted to for me is tough meat, no distinct lamb/mutton flavor, and the dish is swimming in a pool of grease (on that note, I wish there were better Indian restaurants around here!). I thought I’d try my hand at it this at home to see how I would fare.

Shahi Korma ("Royal Lamb" with a Creamy Almond Sauce)

If you’re like me, the name of this dish seems a bit confusing when combined with the photo. Creamy almond sauce evokes images of a delicate, light-tannish colored, velvetty sauce. Well, it started out that way, but the end result is a lot thicker, almost to the point of adding a tacky crust to the meat (which I was… click to read more…

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