I think we are all feeling better—although the kids’ noses are still running and I am still occasionally beset by awful sinus pain. I think that may be why I got so sick in the first time—I think a regular old cold probably coincided with the first bad tree pollen. We are new to the area, so I was not on Flonase but now I know—apparently I have spring allergies here. Oh well. Note to self: make doctor’s appointment and get that Flonase!
But we did have our first spring day at the park today so that was wonderful. Sammy has never been to the park before, but Alex is an old pro. As a matter of fact, she is more of a pro than she was the last time she was at the park! Not sure how it happened—must have something to do with being 2 ¾ years old –but she was off and running, scrambling up the ladders, going down the highest, twistiest slide, while we were still helping Sammy negotiate the stairs. About 20 minutes in we realized we were at the 5-12 years old park! Gee no wonder everything seemed so high and the steps were too big for Sammy! No wonder I had a heart attack at Alex scrambling around like a monkey! We moved to the other park (which was rather out of sight—we had to ask where it was) so that Sammy could figure out jungle gyms on a slide more appropriately sized. A blast was had by all, and then we went home so I could start dinner.
I can’t remember the last time I was this excited to cook. I love my mom’s food and I love the easy classics I threw together while sick before she got here, but I really missed tinkering in the kitchen. Tonight’s dish is a Moghlai chicken curry named after a major city in Afghanistan (Kandahar for those as geography-deficient as me) that is (no surprise) heavily influenced by Afghani cooking. The influence is seen especially in the use of pomegranate juice, which is exactly what drew me to the dish. I found the recipe in Lachu Moorjani’s Ajanta: Regional Feasts of India. My husband brought me this cookbook, autographed to me, after visiting the Ajanta restaurant in Berkeley, CA, while he was there for a conference. I have made a few other recipes from it, but this one has been the best. It was excellent—although I probably will swear off making it again until a special occasion because it was certainly not an example of the healthiest Indian cooking.
Kandahari Chicken Curry
Adapted from Lachu Moorjani’s Ajanta: Regional Feasts of India
3 T neutral vegetable oil
8-10 cloves of garlic, minced
3 medium yellow onions
Pinch of salt
2 lbs chicken thighs, skinned and de-boned and cut into smallish pieces
3 medium tomatoes, pureed (I used one 28 oz can)
1 t sweet paprika
½ – 2 t cayenne pepper (I used a few shakes and served at the table)
4 t ground cumin
1 ½ t salt
¾ cup ground cashews*
1 cup pomegranate juice
½ – ¾ cup cream
2 t garam masala (use a good one with a lot of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom)
*If you need to process your own cashews, I recommend freezing them before putting them into the food processor. This will help them to not turn into butter, although you will still probably have trouble getting a perfectly fine cashew flour. Mine definitely had some lumps but still worked well in the dish.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy pot, such as a dutch oven, preferably 6-8 qts. Add the garlic and fry for 15 seconds, until golden and fragrant. Add the onions and the pinch of salt and caramelize them. This will take as long as 25 minutes depending on how much attention you can spare (if you need to wander away lower the heat but when you have the time stir fry them on high heat as you will need the higher heat to darken the onions). All of the liquid should evaporate; if the onions stick toward the end, use a little water to deglaze the pan. Remove and set aside the onions.
On high heat, heat one tablespoon of oil and add the chicken and stir fry, until it is browned. Add the paprika, cayenne and cumin and quickly stir fry for 5-10 seconds to toast the spices. Then add the onions, salt, tomato puree, pomegranate juice and cashews. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 20-30 minutes, uncovered, until the chicken is tender and the sauce has thickened a bit.
Stir in the cream (I drizzled it in slowly, tasting as I went—the original recipe called for ¾ cup cream; I made a larger recipe than called for above and still used less cream) and the garam masala. Serve with basmati rice and/or flatbread.