A brief statement of purpose

There are already about a billion food blogs, so what might be a justification of yet another one, and who am I to do it?

What I aim to do in this blog is more than simply provide recipes. While recipes of my own will, in fact, be posted, some of the blog will consist of a variety of comments about restaurants and their practices, food preparation tips, personal annoyances (such as loud restaurants and the epidemic of misspellings on menus), and whatever else pops into my head relating to what we put in our mouths (and swallow, I hasten to add). The whole thing is meant to be somewhat provocative. I hope, if nothing else, it won't be boring. I, of course, solicit reader participation.

As for who I am and why I think I might have something to contribute to public discussions on this essential and pleasurable activity - eating - you'll have to click here.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Chicken and hard-cooked eggs in a paprika sauce

I really don't know if I am the originator of this recipe. I've had it for a while. If I got the idea from somewhere else, it certainly looks to be south Asian. As I do with so many recipes, my guess is that I encountered something similar in one of my Indian cookbooks and altered it. Garbanzo flour (aka gram and besan) might be unfamiliar, but it's worth finding for its slightly nutty flavor. Happily, it's becoming increasingly available in some larger grocery stores. Mustard oil is another non-Betty Crocker ingredient. Its origins are in India, although some brands are made in London, which has a large south Asian population. This will be more difficult to find unless you have access to an Indian market or souk. If you find it, be sure to heat it just to the smoking point before adding any ingredients to eliminate the rawness of the oil right out of the bottle. If you can't find it, no problem. Just use peanut, canola, or any other oil.

Hard-cooked eggs: How many? Your decision. Try four. Put them in a pan with cold water and, if you want to follow Julia Child's suggestion to make them easier to peel, some salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and leave the pan on the burner for 18 minutes. Run cold water over the eggs and wait a few minutes before peeling.

Ground coriander, 2 tsp
Ground cumin, 1 tsp
Yellow or black mustard seeds, 1 tsp
Tomato juice, 2 c
Garbanzo flour, 4 tsp
Ginger, 1 tsp, minced
Garlic, 1 Tbs, minced
Paprika, 1-2 Tbs
Sugar, 1 tsp
Salt, 1 tsp
Chile flakes or cayenne (amount dependent on your heat tolerance)

Chicken breasts, skinless and boneless (cut into bite-sized pieces)
Mustard oil or canola, etc, 2-3 Tbs
Salt and pepper
Cilantro, 3-4 Tbs, minced

1.  Put the coriander, cumin, and mustard seeds in a small pan and heat until they give off their aromas. The mustard seeds will attempt to escape the hellish heat, so keep a lid on the pan.
2.  Combine a half cup or so of the tomato juice with the flour. Add the ginger, garlic, paprika, sugar, and salt. Now add the remaining tomato juice, place it all in a pan and simmer slowly for 10 or 15 minutes until it begins to thicken.
3.  Add the chile flakes or cayenne if you're using it.
4.  Heat the oil in another saucepan, large enough to accomodate the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the paprika, salt, and pepper, and saute until done.
5.  Pour the tomato mixture into the pan with the chicken, and stir to combine. Put it on serving plates. Halve the eggs and place on top, sprinkle with some paprika and then some minced cilantro. That's it - unless you want to squeeze some lime juice over all.

(The yellow side dish in the photo above is yellow split peas. Although not as aesthetically pleasing, ordinary brown lentils would be fine as a substitute.)

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