Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sweet - But Not Sweet Enough

Today, I realized that both my meals needed to cook on the stovetop for roughly the same amount of time - again. I always seem to be juggling a rampage of pots (is that the proper plural noun? Do kitchen implements get their own plural forms, such as gnus roaming in an implausibility?) on the stove. So ... it would seem that my home is on the range.

So I did my mise en place first, making sure that anything that needed to be chopped was chopped and anything that just needed to be measured was handy. My one complaint about the chicken recipe is it gives no clue as to the size of the chicken pieces ... so I ran back to the book to check the picture. It seems to show whole legs, so I decided to chop the chicken breasts into four or five pieces, depending on size. Then I started the water boiling for the rice and reached the whole spices ... and nearly toppled over. Wow, the smell of whole cardamom is much headier than I had anticipated. Amazing.

Whole spices fry briefly, then in goes the onion, then the garlic, curry leaves, whole chiles, slices of ginger ... I love this (apparently Indian?) habit of cooking everything, even / especially spice. The chicken went in ... and then all of a sudden, I had nothing to do as both recipes needed to cook away for just about the same amount of time. I did use some of this time in kitchen cleaning, to my credit.

Unfortunately, when I went to check the rice - not anywhere close to done. I believe I turned it down too far, but even with the temperature adjusted, I never did get it to absorb all the water, so it ended up somewhat mushy. In any event, this foiled my plans of having both dishes ready at the same time.

Once the lid came off the chicken, it was supposed to boil until "almost all" the water had evaporated. Now, I had added perhaps a bit too much water to start, so, "Never happen," thought I. I was surprised that it did, indeed, boil off, though some of it was helped by splash-attrition when I stirred and I did deliberately remove a bit of it. Final steps involve stir-frying again with the coconut. Plenty of garam masala in this one.

Final verdict (rice): My jury is out on this one, as I believe the mushiness was my mistake, not a flaw in the recipe. It is both sweet and slightly sour (in a good way) from the wine, and the raisins and nuts add nice texture.

Final verdict (chicken): I was surprised how much the coconut, ginger and onions caramelized, making them subtly sweet and in the case of the ginger, readily edible when you'd never pick up a chunk of ginger and gnaw on it. I really enjoyed the flavor, but the star isn't the chicken so much as the fixings.

And despite the sweet ... I still crave dessert ...

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