Monday, August 30, 2010

Sweet Hands Book Signing This Thursday!

Author Ramin Ganeshram will be signing copies of Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad & Tobago this Thursday, September 2nd! If you are in the New York City area come to Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe at 2319 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (between 124th and125th Streets). Ramin will be signing from 6 to 8 PM.

You can get to Hue-Man Bookstore by taking the A-C or B-D to the 125th Street stop on St Nicholas Avenue, or the 2-3 to the 125th Street stop on Malcolm X Boulevard/Lenox Avenue. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

At Home with Hippocrene

Here's Colette with the next recipe in our series. In case you missed our first edition of At Home with Hippocrene you can find it here.

As members of the office can attest, I usually vote for Indian fare if we go out for lunch. So picking Chettinad Chicken Kurma from Healthy South Indian Cooking as the second featured recipe might not come as a surprise. We have several Indian cookbooks to chose from, so I certainly intend on trying them all! This recipe involved a trip to an Indian grocery store near the office on 28th Street. (Lexington Avenue between 26th Street and 30th Street is known as Curry Hill or Little India, and is packed with Indian restaurants.) I already had cinnamon sticks, curry powder, and bay leaves in my pantry, and was able to get garam masala, turmeric, white poppy seeds, and cardamom at my neighborhood supermarket. But I still needed unsweetened coconut powder, fennel seeds, and curry leaves.

I went up and down the spice aisle, with my marked up list in hand, but I couldn't find dried curry leaves. After going through the little store several times over, I finally asked for help and was directed to the refridgerated case! There were bunches of dark green sprigs hand-packaged in plastic bags. When I got home to look over the cookbook, sure enough it said "dry bay leaves" but not dry curry leaves! It just goes to show you that not only should you reread a new recipe's directions, but you should also pay attention to the ingredients.

Chettinad Chicken Kurma
(from Healthy South Indian Cooking, pages 228-29)

2 lbs skinned chicken pieces (about 6 thighs or breasts)
3/4 cup ground fresh coconut or unsweetened powder
4 small slices ginger root
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 green chili peppers or 2 to 4 whole dried red chili pepper (more, if desired)
1/4 cup roasted chickpeas
12 raw almonds
3 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons white poppy seeds
1teaspoon fennel seeds
4 to 6 slivers cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 dry bay leaves
8 to 10 curry leaves
3/4 cup sliced onion (cut lengthwise)
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/3 minced fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves


1. Cut the chicken into small pieces. Wash them, drain, and set aside.

I found getting slivers of cinnamon to be quite difficult.
The best method turned out to be cutting the stick in half lengthwise,
between the curls, and then taking thin strips off the top.

2. In an electric blender, grind together coconut powder, ginger root, garlic, chili peppers, roasted chickpeas, almonds, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, white poppy seeds, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, and 2 or 3 slivers of cinnamon stick. Add 3 cups of hot water to facilitate the grinding process. (Water must be hot for the coconut to blend properly.) Process on high for at least 5 minutes until mixture has a creamy, liquid consistency. Set kurma sauce aside.

4. Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add bay leaves, curry leaves, remaining 2 or 3 slivers of cinnamon stick, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds. Stir-fry until seeds are golden.

5. Immediately add onion and tomato and cook for a few minutes. Add turmeric powder and mix well.
This is a good point to start making your rice. I always have jasmine rice in the pantry, but I bought a box of basmati for this dish. It simply doesn't taste the same without it.

6. Add the chicken pieces to saucepan. Stir well and cook uncovered over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until chicken becomes opaque and slightly brown.

6. Pour kurma sauce over chicken mixture. Add salt, curry powder, and 1 cup warm water. (I omitted the water simply because my pot was full, but the dish wasn't affected at all.) Mix well. Add cardamom powder. Cook, covered, over low heat until chicken becomes tender, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Give the sauce a taste to make sure it it's not too spicy, or too mild. You can add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce to cool it down, or add more chili pepper or cayenne powder to kick up the heat.

7. Add coriander (cilantro) and continue cooking over low heat for a few more minutes. At this point, I drizzled some store-bought naan with olive oil and put it in the toaster oven on the light setting. The rice should be finished by now, and you can serve the chicken kurma over the rice with warm naan and a little garnish of curry leaves. Delicious!

Cleaning up your plate with naan might be the best part!