Monday, February 20, 2012

Fake Your Own Indian Takeout

Our family loves all kinds of international foods.  Our big weaknesses are Sushi, Mexican, Chinese & Indian Food.  Many of these I can make at home without having to order out, but Indian Food has always eluded me.

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About six years ago I tried to make some of our Indian Favorites = Major Fail!  It was so bad we just threw it out.  My husband declared that I could "make everything but Indian."  I gave up.

BUT, I'm cheap and I'm motivated.  So, I regained my confidence and began extensive research on some of our favorite recipes.  I compared the Indian vs. Pakistani versions of the recipes because we realized that the restaurants we frequent are actually owned by Pakistanis (they used to be one country, after all!) and we prefer that flavor to the more heavily creamy, southern Indian style.

With hesitation, I went to the Lotte Asian Market last week and stocked up on all of the specialty spices I would need (though all of these spices should also be available in your regular grocery store's spice section).  Last weekend, I experimented and the result was FANTASTIC!  My husband was impressed and the food tasted exactly like our favorite takeout place!

Daal Makhani (inspired by Indian Food Forever's Recipe)
2 Cups Daal (Yellow Split Lentils)
1 Can Red Kidney Beans
2 Onions, Finely Chopped
1 Cup Crushed Tomatoes (canned)
2 Tablespoons Crushed Ginger (I used the kind that comes in a jar)
2 Tablespoons Crushed Garlic (Jar as well)
1 Cup Plain Yogurt
1 Cup Milk
1 Tablepoon Vegetable Oil
4 Tablespoons Butter
2 teaspoons Cumin Seeds
1 teaspoon Tumeric Powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds
1/4 teaspoon Red Chili Powder (optional, add more if you like it hot)
Salt to taste
Chopped Cilantro Leaves

In a saucepan, add split lentils, a little salt and lots of water.  Boil, covered, for 30-45 minutes (until the lentils are soft).

While you're waiting for the lentils to cook...In a large frying pan, add the Vegetable Oil, Cumin Seeds, Garlic & Onions.  Fry until the Onions are cooked through.

Next, add the Ginger & Crushed Tomatoes and mix.

Then, add the Tumeric Powder, Fenugreek, Garam Masala & Red Chili Powder.  Fry for another minute to make sure the flavors are incorporated.  Set aside until the lentils are cooked.  

Drain the lentils, put them back in the saucepan, mash them a bit and add the Red Kidney Beans, Milk & Yogurt.  

Add the Onion/Tomato/Spice mixture to the lentils and stir. Add butter.  Cook on Low Heat for another 15-20 minutes (the longer it cooks, the better it gets!).

Serve with chopped Cilantro leaves on top.  Makes 6-8 Servings.

Butter Chicken Pakistani Style (inspired by The Desi Cookbook's Recipe)
5-6 Chicken Breasts, Cleaned & Cut into strips

2 Tablespoons Plain Yogurt
1 Tablespoon Crushed Ginger (Jar)
1 Tablespoon Crushed Garlic (Jar)
1 teaspoon Red Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Salt

2 Sticks Butter (salted)
1 teaspoon Crushed Garlic (Jar)
1 teaspoon Crushed Ginger (Jar)
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds
1/4 teaspoon Red Chili Powder (more if you like it hot)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Crushed Tomatoes (canned)
1 Cup Water
2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Milk
Chopped Cilantro

First, mix the Marinade and put it in a ziplock bag.  Put in the chicken, coat, and marinade for at least 30 minutes.  When the marinade is finished, bake chicken in a lined baking dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (make sure chicken is cooked through).

Meantime, make the Sauce!  Add the butter to a deep frying pan and melt.  Add Ginger, Garlic, Garam Masala, Fenugreek, Chili Powder & Salt.  Fry the spices for 1 minute.  Add the Tomato Puree, Water & Brown Sugar.  Simmer on Medium for 10 minutes to reduce the liquid.

When the chicken is cooked, add it to the frying pan, add milk & simmer on Low for an additional 10 minutes (the longer it cooks, the better it gets!).  Serve with a little chopped Cilantro if you like!

I served both of these dishes with some Basmati Rice (Very simple to make - 1 cup rice to 2 cups water.  Bring to a rolling boil, cover, turn off the heat and let sit for 30 minutes).  It's so aromatic, that you really don't need to add anything else to it!

These recipes make quite a bit of food. You'll definitely be able to scoop some into a freezer bag and serve it up again when you get a craving!

Now that I have had a success with this kind of cooking, I'll be expanding my repertoire for sure!  Homemade Naan is definitely next, along with Eggplant Curry.  Tell me what kinds of Indian Specialties are your favorites!

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  1. I have a recipe on Pinterest for Naan that a friend made a week or so ago. She said it was fabulous! It came from the Budget Bytes blog.
    I think I will be making Indian this week! It is one of our absolute favorites!

  2. Oh fabulous! Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Wow - you're really ambitious! If there are more than 5 ingredients and I can't just mix everything in one pot, I'm out. (I make a lot of boring stews.)

    I just discovered the Palak Paneer at Trader Joe's. It's spinach, ginger, garlic, with cubes of soft Indian cheese. It's super delicious (although it looks like a bowl of mold!), and serves 2 very generously for $2. I am handy enough to tear open the foil pack, pour it into a bowl and microwave it - that's more my speed! But I applaud you!

  4. You are determined, and it looks amazing! I just Pinned this one.. When I have time, I'll be trying it.

  5. Wow, thank you! These recipes came very handy. My husband and I was just the other day complaining how expensive the local Indian restaurant is (and not too good either, had a favorite Indian place in Stockholm that I miss). Will try it this weekend! Hope to find all the ingredients! Thanks again and for a great blog!

  6. Very impressive and healthy looking recipes too.

  7. This looks and sounds wonderful. We will be trying it soon. We actually had a funny visit to our local Indian Restaurant. I always go with chicken. It's a safe choice for me. My other half decided to do something different and chose lamb. The only problem, he actually chose something else. Halfway through the dish we discovered he picked GOAT! Now I know a lot of people eat this.....not us. I actually found it funnier than he did. Hee Ha Ha.

    1. Haha! I've been there and done that, too - Indian Buffet will get you every time!

  8. I made the Butter Chicken and the Naan recipe I posted a link to (along with a chutney, because I had everything on hand, that I found on the site with the Naan)and it was insanely good! Thank you! I think I will watch for chicken to go on sale and cut it up and freeze it in the marinade to make quicker Indian meals.

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  10. Please come check out my Blog as I love yours so much as I dont get many American things here and love making my homemade cleaners they have never thought of here! I have a new recipe on dal. I dont mean to dog on yours but dal does not contain masala, ginger, kidney beans, butter or curd/yoghurt. Curd/Yoghurt is a condiment like ketchup here and ginger & masala are only used in cooking non-veg like butter chicken. If you want to have some easy to prepare and pennies on the dollar indian foods please message me as that is my speciality!
    Thanks alot for your neat ideas, they are appreciated around the world!

  11. Hi,
    I am also from DC area,fairfax to be precise,originally an Indian, but when we moved here we were so pleasantly surprised to find so many indian restaurants over here, if you are somewhere around fairfax you should definitely try BOMBAY will love it

  12. Hi there! great stuff. Thanks for sharing a very interesting and informative content, it helps me a lot, keep it up!

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