Tikka, kabob and pilau

Many people stay away from cooking Indian and other Asian cuisine because of the daunting list of spices required by the recipes.  Places like Trader Joes and Cost Plus World Market have alleviated some of the inconvenience by selling Garam Masala, Tandoori and other spice blends, which are quite good.  Alternatively, if you are fortunate enough to be near a market that sells bulk spices (like Henry’s Market in California), you can purchase just what you need quite cheaply.  After all, who hasn’t had a cupboard full of three-year old spices that have to be thrown out because they’ve gone stale?

The recipes below are adapted from Charmaine Solomon’s “The Complete Asian Cookbook”.  The Parsi pilau is a wonderfully aromatic rice dish.  I’ve added peas to it, as contained in one of her other pilau recipes, to avoid making a separate veggie dish.  The chicken tikka is unchanged.  The lamb kabob recipe is one of her Asian “fusion” recipes and not authentic Indian food, but still has a great Indian flavor.

Lamb Kabobs

  • 1 pound lean lamb cut into 1” cubes
  • 1small clove of garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp crushed dried curry leaves (I once bought a packet of fresh curry leaves from an Asian grocery store, and after using what I needed for my dish, dried the remainder in a low oven and store them in a plastic bag)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano leaves (definitely not Indian!)
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce (also definitely not Indian)
  • 1 ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 ½ tsp fresh lemon juice

Marinate the lamb cubes in a plastic Ziploc bag with the remaining ingredients for at least 3 hours and up to 4 days.  Thread the cubes on bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for at least 20 minutes. 

Chicken Tikka

  • 1 pound boneless chicken thighs
    • ½ medium onion cut into large pieces
    • 1 clove garlic, peeled
    • 2 tsp minced ginger
    • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • ½ tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp garam masala
    • 3 tbsp yoghurt (use a brand that does not contain gelatin or carageenan), only milk and live cultures
    • 1 tsp salt
    • Chopped cilantro (optional)

Put all ingredients except chicken in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Pour the ingredients over the chicken and marinate at least 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

Parsi Pilau

  • ½ tsp saffron (available at Trader Joes without costing an arm and a leg)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup long grain rice (preferably Basmati)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cinnamon stick (don’t buy the pretty ones in the spice section of your grocery, the less attractive ones in the Mexican grocery section are cheaper and will work just as well)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1.2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • rind of one orange, finely grated
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp pistachios our of the shell
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted

Put the saffron and water in a microwave-proof mug in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Heat the canola oil over a small sauté pan and add the rice.  Stir until grains become translucent.  Add saffron water, chicken broth, spices and orange rind.  Bring to boil.  Turn heat to low and cover and steam for 30 minutes (40 minutes if using brown long-grained rice).  Remove the cover.   Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and whole cloves.  Stir in raisins, almonds, pistachios and peas.  Cover and cook five minutes more. 

Grilling the meat

Grill the lamb and chicken on your barbecue or under the broiler for about 7 minutes on each side or until done.  Serve with the pilau.  Makes 6 servings.

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