Color, color, which color?

I tried out this great color quiz and apparently, Black is my color ...
Nothing can stand between you and your demand for a calm environment. To be free of conflict and disagreement is the only way to live. In fact, it's this philosophy that probably allows you to be comfortable in conditions that would normally bother others. Your ability to focus is undisputed, and while you enjoy attention, you still have problems understanding how to handle it. No other color out lives by the golden rule as much as you do.
Which is largely accurate, even though that last sentence doesn't make sense to me no matter how I try to read it ...

What your color?

Butter Chicken

Do you have one recipe that is your fail-safe recipe- the one that you know will work in a pinch when you have guests, or the one that you can make as many variations as you wish and will still please palates? Murg Makhani or Butter Chicken Masala is one of mine.

I know it sounds finicky, but I have this really easy recipe which I've been using for the past 10 years or so and I've never gone wrong with it. I *think* the original recipe is Sanjeev Kapoor's but I've long since lost the slip of paper I copied the recipe out on. The original copy I made was flawed since I distinctly remember no mention of the amount of chicken to be used; as a new cook, at the time it seemed like the end of the world. But whatever I cobbled up was still so tasty that I've reused the recipe time and again.

Couple of reasons why this recipe is such a favorite. It's very quick and easy for starters. Most often the tomato puree I use is from a can (unsweetened, unflavored kind), so the only prep work involves powdering the nuts. Secondly, it uses nuts to thicken the sauce which gives it a wonderfully creamy consistency, so I leave out the cream entirely. Then, I add a small dab of butter and add oil so I get a hint of the flavor of butter. So, basically I feel like this is a healthier version of my favorite dish. And since I've been making it with twists and modifications it never tastes the same twice in a row, but all versions are pretty delicious.

It's also very easy to substitute paneer for a vegetarian Paneer Butter Masala. I just adjust spices accordingly. Since, I dont have the original recipe with me anymore, I will not be including measurements.

From L-R: Mix red chilli powder, salt, black pepper powder, ginger paste, garlic paste, garam masala powder and yogurt together as a marinade for the chicken. I've also added a couple of saffron strands, to give color and richness but I dont think it adds much so you can leave it out. Marinate the chicken (I used 500gms/1lb) with this mix for a couple of hours. (For an equal quantity of paneer, I reduce the marinade by half).

After marinating, bake the chicken in a 350F oven until almost cooked. Then place it under the broiler for a couple of minutes until the marinade is cooked and browned. (I use chicken thighs because other cuts get really dry in the oven, if using chkn breasts you might want to do this on the grill/stovetop). Shred the chicken pieces.
(Paneer should be browned in the broiler/grill.)

In a pan, heat some butter and oil. After the butter melts add powdered almonds and stir until lightly golden. I prefer using powdered cashews because I think the taste is richer, but unfortunately I didnt have any at home ... you can also add roasted and powdered poppy seeds 'khus khus' with cashews to give more depth to the flavor.

Add tomato puree to the roasted almonds above. Also add some tomato ketchup and chilli sauce into the puree. (I know! Trust me, the payoff is great!! This time I used Maggi Masala Chilli Ketchup and Sriracha hot sauce, I generally add any combinations of ketchups and hot sauces I have on hand. The best flavor profile is with plain tomato ketchup and around a 3:1 ratio.) Cook for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the marinated chicken, red chilli powder if required and about a tsp. of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek) leaves (which is the secret to this recipe, don't leave it out). Let simmer for another 5 minutes or till the desired consistency is reached.

Check seasonings- since I didnt add pure ketchup, I added in some sugar along with the salt. Also, you might need to add more of the fenugreek leaves, I've found that if you have a really old batch you will need to add more to really taste the flavor. If you want to make it really decadent, stir in fresh cream at this point. If you add cream, simmer for a few minutes more.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice/ roti/ naan.

The rice looks different because it is brown basmati, I've come to love the nutty flavor of brown rices and prefer them to the white. Figuring out how to cook it was a pain though and I still haven't got the hang of fluffy, unsticky basmati grains! If you have any tips I'd love to hear them!!

Review: Darkness, Take My Hand

Rating: 4/ 5

I came across Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie/Angela Gennaro series as one of the recommendations for people who liked the Russ Van Alstyne/ Clare Fergusson mystery series. I've read Lehane's Mystic River before (and liked it) and watched the unfortunate Shutter Island, but I never make assumptions of books on their movie adaptations, being well used to Hollywood's disappointments by now so I was all set to give the series a chance.

The first novel in the series didnt impress me much. In A Drink Before the War, Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, two private investigators are hired by a politician on what seems to be a simple case of the politician's cleaning service making away with sensitive documents he had hidden in his office. As Patrick and Angie investigate, the case becomes murkier, the stakes are higher and sees them dealing with unsavory criminal elements in Boston.

While I didnt care much for the mystery and gangster-style action elements, it being one of those cases where everything and the kitchen sink is hurled at the protagonists, I liked the style of the novel (the hard-boiled detective elements), the characters of Patrick and Angie who are childhood friends and sometime lovers, and the little coterie of people who help them.

So, I picked up the next one, I usually give the series a chance to develop before giving up on it entirely. And Darkness, take my Hand, the second in the series delivered everything that was promised. The slow buildup to the mystery is very well-plotted and the thriller elements kept me glued to my couch.

In Darkness, psychiatrist Diandra Warren hires the Boston PIs to keep an eye on her son. She thinks that she and her son are under threat after she accepts a patient who turns out to be the girlfriend of an Irish Mafia enforcer, who doesnt want anyone prying into his business. Diandra Warren receives a mysterious photograph of her son which scares her into hiring the team of Kenzie and Gennaro.

Patrick and Angie spend a long time tailing the son Jason, and when they dont find anything threatening, assume that the threat is over. In the meanwhile, a series of gruesome deaths in their old neighborhood have police and the FBI troubled over the absolute brutality of the crimes. In all the cases the MO is the same, the victims were sent photographs weeks before they turn up dead. And so does Jason Warren.

The police think that they have tied the murders with a 20 year old case in the same neighborhood, but the person they arrested for the crimes, Alec Hardiman, is already in prison. The nightmare turns personal when Hardiman asks to speak with Patrick. And suddenly, Patrick finds that all his friends, his lover Grace and her daughter Mae, Angie, everyone he cares for is in danger, by a threat no one understands or is able to comprehend the evil of.

Will keep you turning pages, highly recommended!!

Series Order

1. A Drink before the War
2. Darkness, Take my Hand
3. Sacred
4. Gone, Baby, Gone
5. Prayers for Rain

    I also blog at ....

    Search This Blog

    Currently reading ....

    The Secret Wedding

    Blog Awards

    Blog Awards
    Thanks, Abha

    Thanks, Angel's Flight

    Thanks, Avdi

    Thanks, Nishita