Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Garlic Naan and Pseudo Indian Chicken

My wife's cousin was cleaning out her shelves in her house and had a whole bunch of books she was going to give to a thrift store. She offered to me the chance to look through the box and pull any books I wanted before she took them away. I dug through and picked out an Asian Cookbook.

So, we had her over for dinner and I cooked some things from it.

My first thought was to do Indian, because I found some things in there I'd been wanting to try. One of them was Naan bread, and the other was Tandoori Chicken. But it turned out that we didn't have the right spices for the tandoori chicken, so I just followed the same procedure and recipe and used Garam masala spices instead of Tandoori masala. It definitely wasn't tandoori chicken, but it was good! I also got a bit closer to working out that "open oven" technique that I'd first tried with the jerk chicken.

When I was making the Naan, I saw that the measurement for the flour was in grams and converted to pounds. I, unfortunately, don't have a scale, so I just mixed it in until it felt nice and smooth and right.

So, the recipes today will reflect the way I actually did it, not so much what the book said.

Dutch Oven Garlic Naan

12" Dutch Oven

10-12 coals below
20-24 (or more) coals above (depending on the outside temperature)

2 tsp dry active yeast
4 tbsp warm milk
2 tsp sugar

2-3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cups milk
2/3 cups yogurt
1 egg
2 tbsp butter

1/2 stick soft butter
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Liberal shakes of parsley and thyme
salt, pepper

Pseudo-Indian Chicken in the Dutch Oven

12" Dutch Oven

10-12 coals below
20-24 (or more) coals above (depending on the outside temperature)

2-3 lbs chicken (I used frozen chicken breast)
1 cup yogurt
4 tbsp garam masala powder

Since I cooked these things at the same time, I'll go over the instructions as I did them. There's a few suggestions I'll throw in that I hope to remember to do next time.

My sister had told me a long time ago that indian spices need to be "activated" first, to really bring out their flavor. I forgot to that this time, so I'd get some coals under my little 8" and add the masala powder and a little olive oil. I'd cook that for a few minutes, then pull it off and add that to the yogurt.

I took the chicken, thawed, and patted it dry. I cut a few slices into the chicken, so that the spices could more easily penetrate. I put it in a bowl with the yogurt and the spices and stirred it up. I set this aside for a couple of hours.

Then, I mixed the first set of ingredients in the Naan to activate the yeast. I let it sit until it got frothy, and then added the next set of ingredients. I mixed it all together (a little shy on the flour), then turned it out onto the floured tabletop to knead. As I kneaded it, I added more flour bit by bit until it felt right, smooth and satiny. Then I set aside the dough to rise.

Then I went home teaching (that's a Mo' Church thing)!

When I came back, the chicken and the bread were both almost ready.

I lit up a lot of coals. Hey, it's cold out! The tandoori Chicken is normally cooked in a special oven that cooks with a very dry heat. So, the marinade gets baked onto the chicken dry. Dutch ovens, of course, trap the steam and hot moisture under a heavy cast iron lid. Also, if you just put the chicken in the bottom of the oven, the juices will gather around the chicken. So, I put the chicken in one of those folding steamers so the juices would drip down below, and put that into the dutch oven. The lid, I dealt with another way. I put that oven on the coals to begin cooking.

I also oiled the other 12" dutch oven up and put it on and under the coals to pre-heat.

Then, I cut the dough into quarters, and rolled and spread each quarter into a flat on the floured tabletop. I had mixed the butter and the spices, so I spread that over each flat. I put the flats into the dutch oven, one at a time. After about 3-5 minutes, I opened up the lid and turned the bread over for another 3-5 minutes. Then I pulled it out and put in the next one.

In the meantime, the chicken is cooking. I put some more of the sauce/marinade on after a bit. After about 20 minutes on the heat, I figured the chicken was about half done. I had this set of tongs that I balanced across the rim of the dutch oven, and put the lid back on it. That lifted the lid enough to let the steam vent, but not so much that too much heat lost as well. I put some extra coals on the lid so that there was extra heat radiating from the top as well.

After about another 20 minutes, the chicken was done and ready. In the meantime, I'd also made some rice with lemon juice.

And it might not have been authentic Tandoori Chicken, but man, it was gooooood!



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