An un-birthday Indian feast – 14 January 2018

Today’s “cooking wine,” which is to say, wine to drink while cooking. We wanted to show this to R&E, after having convinced our favorite wine buyer S to obtain it for us from the importer. GREAT wine!


E decided to delay her birthday dinner celebration so they could see Star Wars on the actual day, and then struggled a bit with the menu, deciding between two options, one easier, and one the one she really wanted. So hey, it’s her birthday! She ended up choosing the more complicated version of the possibilities (what she really wanted), which required Tandoori chicken as an ingredient.






She made the complicated Tandoori chicken for herself and R on Saturday night, making more than 6 pounds of chicken, and then used the leftover chicken to make Velvet Butter Chicken tonight. It was a great meal, and obviously benefited from having four of us to cook it. Lots of prep work – chopping and seeding and spice-grinding galore! All the recipes were from Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni.

And butter. Butter, butter, butter. I’m pretty sure this is the start of the chicken’s sauce, but I wasn’t cooking it.


I washed three pounds of spinach, one leaf at a time, which resulted in muddy first wash, but, remarkably, a clean second rinse. Helped bone some of the chicken. I ended up stemming and seeding 6 small Indian green peppers, mincing two and chopping the other four.

Loved using this outdoor/picnic tablecloth for the first time. Kind of outrageous, but really fun.


I used the chopped ones, plus the chopped ginger, blending into the tomato sauce in which the chicken is finished. Procedural note: The 28 oz can of chunked tomatoes filled the blender and I was concerned that the chunks of peppers and ginger would simply swim around the blender knives; so I emptied out most – probably 5/6 or so – of the tomatoes, added the ginger and pepper chunks, and blended that for awhile till I could see (stopping the blender and

Let’s put the wine in here so I have half a chance of getting words near photos. Nice try, good wine, but wow, nothing really went well with the chicken.

spooning the sauce a bit) that the mixture was finely blended – and I checked and it was. Then I added in the rest of the tomatoes, which did not need to be blended nearly as long. It was an excellent, fine puree, and E was quite happy with it.

Start of the pilaf. I just thought this was pretty.h it.

End of the pilaf!

The chicken is cooked in spices (I smelled cumin) and then the puree is cooked, and cream added (this was SO not a health-food dinner!) and the chicken heated in the sauce. E didn’t like the idea of cutting bone-in pieces of chicken in half, so she deboned them first (I helped a little), and she cut them into pieces she thought were nice-sized.

We finally tried a rose called “Tavel” from Kermit Lynch, which was a wonderful wine but not a great match. We are kind of stumped as to what would work, to tell the truth.

Perhaps my favorite part of the meal was this most amazingly scented rice pilaf called Fragrant Pilaf, Banares Style.






The pilaf uses cardamom, bay, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, and salt. The ginger in this recipe is the grated one.




We also had a red-cabbage dish (“Buttered Smothered Cabbage”). Did I say butterbutterbutter?











The picture on the right shows what I called “ginger three ways,” as three different cutting styles were called for in the various recipes. This was the second (after the hot peppers) that called for multiple different cutting styles.



The first thing we did, about 3:30, was make and eat an afternoon snack of Onion Fritters, which D deep fried from the batter E had made, of chick pea flour, with cumin and minced green chiles. They were tasty, but not enough! E said she’d make 1/2 recipe instead of 1/3 for four people next time. There was a tamarind sauce and Mint Coriander Dip to go with them. The tamarind is what is supposed to be there, but I liked the green dip better. It was really outstanding, in fact.







R made a luxurious cake, which I’m sure was also mostly butter, with the other main ingredient being cream 😉 Pistachios on top, and I think cardamom or something of the sort as a fragrance/flavor. Aha – Re confirms it’s “Cardamom Cream Cake” from the New York Times recipe collection. Sumptuous! They made ice cream, too – cardamom again, with vanilla also. Yummers!




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