Tuesday, October 9, 2012

IHCC: Spice Bazaar

Spice Bazaar is the theme for this week's Madhur Jaffrey experience. Using up the sack of potatoes I bought for the lamb-roast-that-wasn't is the theme for this week's cooking in general. The combination of themes put me in mind of a household favorite that we call "Indian French fries." To go with this, I grilled a pair of spice-rubbed kip filets (that's Dutch for skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, much easier to say and write, and now part of the household lingo) and made some Indian green beans.

This is actually a regular kind of real around here, perhaps not a weeknight meal because of the potatoes, but three dishes, nothing too complicated, with just a bit of prep. Here is the mise en place in place. On the right, the prep for the potatoes (which are soaking in a bowl by the sink), in the middle the rub for the chicken, on the left the prep for the green beans (which are draining in a colander in the sink).

Potatoes Cooked with Garlic and Sesame Seeds (WoE, p55) has long been a favorite here. I'm still not comfortable with frying things, so I tend to make this only occasionally, and only with other dishes that aren't too complicated. This time I used my mandoline for cutting the fries, which is a bit easier than doing this by hand. However, I think they were actually a bit too small, so tended to be a bit soggy, rather than crispy. The potato fingers are soaked for at least half an hour before frying. Then they are partly cooked and removed from the pan. In the same skillet, sesame seeds are fried briefly, then garlic until it's brown, then turmeric and asafetida are stirred in. Finally, the potatoes are tossed with this mixture and covered to finish the cooking.

N.B.: For those who haven't cooked with asafetida before, be aware that it is a spice that can, literally, take your breath away. Just for a moment, but it's pretty dramatic the first time you inhale the fumes. Before you add that pinch to your pan, turn your exhaust fan to high and lean back. 

As a go-with for the potatoes and chicken, I made Tangy Green Beans with Ajwain and Ginger (SpiceKitch, p36). I make this fairly frequently because it adds a bit of color to the plate. Indian meals, at least as I prepare them, tend to be a bit monotone, in the browny-yellow range, and the green of this dish livens things up a bit. There is a bit of prep, measuring spices, trimming and boiling the beans, slicing onions, but it can all be done ahead. This is actually quite a good dish for an otherwise "busy" meal prep, since the work can largely be done ahead and then finished off in the last ten minutes or so with minimal attention while other things are happening. 

While the potatoes were doing their first bit of cooking, I flattened the kip filets a bit, rubbed them with a bit of oil, then rubbed on the spice mixture (salt, paprika, cumin smoked paprika, cayenne, and celery seeds). After the potatoes were tossed with their spices, I started the onions for the green beans, then slid the chicken under the (gas) broiler. About the time the onions were browned, it was time to turn over the chicken, then finish off the beans. Plate it all, serve, and enjoy!

This post is shared with I Heart Cooking Clubs


  1. What a wonderful meal! And thanks for the tip re the asafetida!

  2. Great plate! The potatoes sound right up my alley.

  3. That asafetida is an interesting spice. Both of these dishes look perfect for any meal.

  4. That's a delicious meal! Love everything on it! The chicken looks so good! Would be great with some basmati rice too!

  5. I can do potatoes!! Thank you for sharing! And, thank you for saving me from asphyxiation due to asafetida! I've had a similar experience with stir frying hot chiles! The rest of the plate is lovely too!

  6. Love all of these dishes, Kaye - looks like a great meal. Thanks also for the tip on using the asefetida - it is a spice I've yet to try, but I will definitely remember that.