If you read last week’s post, you will know that John and I took a wonderful Indian cooking class with Edmonton’s own Michelle Peters-Jones. She is the author and owner of The Tiffin Box, a popular blog primarily featuring Indian cuisine.
Last week, I took you through the making of our own garam masala spice blend. This week, I am going to show you the wonderful Indian dishes we prepared with Michelle! I have linked each dish to Michelle’s blog (if it happens to appear on there.)
As it takes a few hours in the oven, we started with beef biriyani, a slow-cooked beef dish layered with rice.
Next, we had some fun making vegetable samosas. The filling is surprisingly simple, primarily featuring potatoes and curry leaves. John and I had a blast mastering how to assemble these cute little triangle-shaped dumplings. After a quick deep-fry, our samosas were delectable!
Our third dish was masala dal, a spiced lentil dish. While cooking the red lentils and split peas until they were mushy, we fried some onion and tomatoes with spices and then mixed them into the lentils. Easy – and a great side to accompany any entrée! The secret that Michelle showed us here was the tempering. Right before serving, you fry some chili peppers with garlic and cumin seeds. Place them on the dal and cover. When you lift the lid serve, a wonderful spicy aroma fills the air.
The final main course was the chicken korma. I’ve always loved chicken korma, and have made it a few times using pre-made spice packages, so I was very excited to learn how to make it from scratch, and all about the spices involved. I was very surprised at how easy it was, and how quick! Including prep time, you can easily make this dish in less than 45 minutes. The dish included some whole spices (cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon/cassia) as well as the fresh garam masala spice blend we had made earlier that day. Finished with some homemade almond paste and cream, the wonderful spices in this rich and satisfying dish are to die for!
Of course we had to have dessert as well, and this could have been the highlight of my life. I love rice pudding, and a Costco-sized package of Cozy Shack can typically be found in my refrigerator. So you can only guess how I swooned over a homemade rice pudding (also known as kheer) flavoured to perfection with cardamom, saffron and rosewater. Absolutely extraordinary – I’ve never had better!
When the meal was ready, John and I dove in and didn’t hold back. I have to apologize to the local Indian restaurants, but nothing we have eaten holds a candle to what we cooked with Michelle that magical day.
Since our cooking class, I have already made the dal and chicken korma in my own kitchen. As mentioned above, the korma is surprisingly easy providing you have the proper whole spices and blends in your kitchen. But if you don’t, they are all pretty easy to find.
- If you would like to try a vegetable version of this korma, check out Michelle’s navratan korma – other than the substitution of the chicken for an assortment of non-meat ingredients, it is nearly identical.
- Serve your korma with basmati rice – Michelle suggests cooking at a 1:1.5 rice to water ratio, and to cook for around 17-18 minutes.
Spice of the week
I had never heard of cassia bark before our cooking class. I learned that it is very similar to cinnamon, but milder in flavour. It is often used over cinnamon thanks to its superior affordability.
From what I learned from my internet research, there are two main types of cinnamon – Ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon, native to Sri Lanka, is also known as “true cinnamon.” Cassia cinnamon is what we typically buy and use in North America. Unless you can verify the source of your ground cinnamon, there is a good chance you are using cassia.
So special thanks to Michelle for a fun and memorable day of cooking! John and I learned a lot and left with our appetites more than satisfied. The chicken korma recipe has already become a staple in our home, and I know the others are sure to follow!
Interested in viewing the first part of the Indian Cooking Class series? Click below:
Garam Masala Spice Blend and Indian Cooking Class
Click here to view the printable Word version of the recipe:
By Michelle Peters-Jones
¼ cup almonds
½ cup boiling water
1 kilo skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 8 – 12)
1 tablespoon neutral oil
4 – 5 whole cloves
1 inch piece cassia bark or cinnamon
4 – 5 whole green cardamom pods
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon mild chili powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup hot chicken stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup whipping cream
Small handful fresh cilantro, to garnish
1. Make the almond paste. Soak the almonds in the boiling water for about 15 – 20 minutes. Place almonds with water in a powerful blender and blend to a fine paste and keep aside.
2. Meanwhile, cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and keep aside.
3. Heat the oil in a heavy based pan, and add the cloves, cassia or cinnamon and cardamom. Fry for a minute, until the spices are fragrant, then add the diced onion. Fry the onion on a medium high heat, until beginning to go golden around the edges.
4. Add the garlic and ginger. Fry together for an additional 30 seconds. Add the spices to the onion mixture. Fry for another 30 seconds, then add the tomato paste. Fry everything together until it cooks into a thick, sticky mass. Season with a little salt.
5. Add the stock to the pan, and the chicken thighs. Cover the pan and cook for about 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
6. Add 3 – 4 tablespoons of the almond paste (keep the remaining paste for other uses) and the cream to the sauce, and cook on a gentle heat until the sauce is thick and creamy. Season to taste with the salt and pepper and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves before serving.
Serve with basmati rice.