Chicken with masala sauce


The other day I was doing some “prep cooking” – you know, preparing the stuff that could be done in advance before having a guest in town. And one of the things was this sauce.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoon curry
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup plain, whole-milk yogurt
Heat oil on medium, add onions and saute until lightly golden (about 20 minutes). Add garlic and all the spices. Stir for about a minute. Cool mixture until warm. While mix is cooling, mix the tomatoes and yogurt together and puree until almost smooth. Add the onion-garlic-spice mixture, and again puree until almost smooth.

At this point, the sauce can now be refrigerated for a day or two before using. (This helps develop the flavors.) I left it in the fridge for two days and used it up today. And here’s how to do it…

When ready to prepare…

You can actually use chicken or prawns here. Normally I use prawns, but the guest was not into shellfish and seafood, so I went for chicken.

I cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, cooked them in a separate pan and then transferred them to the pan I prepared for the rest of the process. If using prawns, which cook faster, you can cook them in the same pan as the rest of the process.

Rest of the process:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Prepared prawns (or cooked chicken)
Half a can coconut milk (about 7 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add the prawns to cook (about 2 minutes). Or add the chicken you have previously cooked. Stir in the coconut milk, cilantro, green onion, lemon juice.

Chicken + coconut milk, lemon + green onions before adding masala

Chicken + coconut milk, lemon + green onions before adding masala


Then add the prepared masala sauce described above. Simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes more.

Chicken masala - final product

Chicken masala – final product

Serve with rice (which I like to make with caramelized onions, but that’s just me!).

Made-up Cream Curry Onion Soup


Soup rarely has a recipe – I write it down sort of, if it works, and maybe try to replicate it again. My Thai red curry carrot soup was an experiment that continues to wow me but other experiments are not as successful.

What will this makeshift onion soup be like? When I made it, I didn’t know.

Here’s what I did:

I sauteed about ten red onions in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet on medium heat. I left this to do its magic for about 30 or 40 minutes. Meanwhile I boiled about four cups of water with one cube of vegetable bouillon, one tablespoon of curry powder and some chopped garlic – I let that simmer until it reduced considerably. When the onions were ready, I dumped them in the broth pot, let it simmer another ten minutes and then blended with a stick blender. Afterwards I stirred in about half a cup of coconut milk – but you could use cream or milk or whatever you want.

Not bad, if you like onions. Actually it is not pretty but it tastes really fabulous – a hint of the caramelized flavor, only a hint of the curry (but it makes a difference) and coconut milk instead of milk or something else gives this a very slight sweetness that plays well off the onion and curry. I am happy with this even though I was scared. I will definitely do this again. Especially because I often have so few things in my house with which to cook – but I always have onions, always have coconut milk – and that is almost all you need for this!

Onions ready for caramelizing and becoming soup

Onions ready for caramelizing and becoming soup

Not pretty but quite yummy - onion curry coconut soup

Not pretty but quite yummy – onion curry coconut soup

Bring on the Baking Improvisation: Coconut Macaroon Pumpkin Pie


Sometimes the best discoveries come when you just don’t have all the things on hand that you would normally need. Recently I wanted to make a pumpkin pie but didn’t have cream, milk or condensed milk in stock. I thought about how I might make a non-dairy version and decided a coconut milk (which I always have!) variety might work well. Not completely sure what measurements I should use, I turned to the trusty internet and discovered the most lovely website: The Shiksa in the Kitchen.

Her recipe for coconut macaroon pumpkin pie sounds perfect on every level – so it’s up next on my baking plan. (Sadly, I did not get around to making it the other day because I had only one egg.)

The site, though, is filled with fabulous stuff like pretzel challah, rum and coffee beef brisket, gouda macaroni and cheese with pine nuts and golden raisins (I’d skip the raisins – but it otherwise sounds amazing), a gorgeous Mediterranean seven-layer dip and about a million other to-die-for recipes complete with mouthwatering pictures, and step-by-step instructions on how to do just about everything.

The Shiksa site does it for me in particular because I’m a baker through and through but not that creative or adventurous when it comes to cooking – so the recipes here for cooking actual food pique my interest and actually make me want to go in the kitchen and try stuff out. I’m in love.

Post-Thanksgiving food coma – Pumpkin curry soup


Normally I make pumpkin curry soup, which is a serious fork in the road from the traditional Thanksgiving dinner road driven by my predecessors. We never had soup in my family, and if we did, it sure as hell would not have been pumpkin. My mom, the primary Thanksgiving cook, hates pumpkin, and I do not recall that my grandmother had any particular affinity for it either. When I decided to start a new tradition of making soup, I wanted something that incorporated pumpkin (one of the most important Thanksgiving ingredients in my opinion) but that was not dull or plain (as so many pumpkin soups can be). I used curry to give it its kick. Generally when I make this soup, I use coconut milk (making the soup vegan), but at Thanksgiving usually dose the soup with a generous few gulps of cream.

Pumpkin curry soup (You can use pureed butternut squash in place of pumpkin here if pumpkin is hard to find… might even be better that way. I did this year just for a change)
3 tablespoons butter or oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon curry
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups water
3 bouillon cubes (I use vegetable)
15 ounce can pumpkin (or the “meat” of a baked butternut squash)
1 cup half-and-half or cream (can replace with coconut milk if you want a non-dairy option)
Sour cream garnish

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium high. Add onion and garlic. Cook 3 to 5 minutes til tender. Stir in curry powder, coriander, cayenne. Cook 1 minute. Add water and bouillon. Bring to boil. Reduce to low, cook, stirring constantly for 15 to 20 minutes to develop flavors. Stir in pumpkin. Blend until smooth. At this point, you could cover and refrigerate the soup for a day. This develops the flavors further and of course means you can plan ahead.

When ready to finish and serve, place soup on stovetop and mix in cream (or coconut milk or half and half). Cook 5 minutes or til heated through. Garnish with sour cream if desired.

Dangling the carrot: Thai-spice roasted-carrot soup


I am not a big fan of carrots. The idea of carrot soup does not appeal to me that much, but I am in this soup-making-frenzy phase and had a massive amount of carrots in my fridge. I have made some sort of soup almost every single day, and oddly had never made a concoction of carrot. So….. I guessed at this recipe (unlike baking, you can just throw in ingredients, taste, hope for the best). And I do not have the pickiest or most discerning taste. I will eat this soup even if I do not happen to like it very much. (I can report, though, that the soup is absolutely amazing. I am beyond surprised.)

Thai-spice roasted-carrot soup
2 cups (or more if desired/needed) vegetable stock
10 (or so) medium-sized carrots, scrubbed (or peeled if desired)
1 medium onion
Olive oil
1 large clove of garlic
Grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
Coconut milk (to preferred taste and consistency)

Put the carrots and chopped onion into a roasting pan with a generous amount of olive oil and salt. I roasted mine for about an hour, checking on them every 15 minutes and stirring them around. I did this at 200C but you could go lower if needed/desired.

While this is in the oven prepare the garlic, ginger and broth in a large saucepan or soup pan. When the carrots and onions are ready, remove from oven and mix them into the saucepan of broth. Bring this mixture to a boil, then cover it and heat on a low temperature, letting it simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir in the curry paste and simmer for another minute or so, until the curry is perceptibly fragrant.

Remove the soup from heat, cool slightly. When somewhat cooled, add some coconut milk and blend until smooth/desired consistency). Add more coconut milk if desired. Garnish with cilantro or mint leaves.