PFB Challenge #2 – Classic Curried Chicken & Naan Bread with a little help

Fate is awesome. I was inspired to make something remarkable for Challenge #2 of Project Food Blog (which by the way, I owe everyone a big thank you for all your votes and wonderful comments) but I was frustrated that nothing was calling out to me. I had some ideas, but nothing that told a great story and as you know (or will soon learn), I enjoy telling stories.

For years, I’d never seen it, but my parents have talked about this recipe book that belonged to my grandmother, Hannah (A quick note, my dad’s parents didn’t like being called grandma and grandpa since they thought it made them sound old, so I grew up calling them by their first names, Hannah and Eddie). This recipe book of Hannah’s, which virtually covered her entire life, essentially tracks her culinary experiences throughout her life, including a classic note she wrote to my mother (when she married my father) about how he likes certain dishes prepared.Β  I suppose Hannah thought he would starve to death without special instructions on how to feed him! And as fate would have it, I held this book for the first time about 3 days ago and inside I found a treasure chest of inspiration.

Celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary and me and my awkward hair part in the background

I love butter chicken and if you give me a curry dish, I’ll be your friend for life, but I had never even thought about preparing these dishes. Cooking Indian dishes is a daunting task, I don’t know why, but it just is. Well, it was, until now. As I was flipping delicately (the pages are turning brown from age) through the book, I came across a recipe card for Curried Chicken. And not just any recipe, a recipe card that my grandmother had taken the time to type…on a type-writer.

Everything in that book is in there for a reason, so I was confident in my selection and after reading the recipe called for turmeric and cumin, I knew I was out of my comfort zone. But I like to complicate my life sometimes, I have a tendency to over think, so to further challenge myself, I was committed to making something that would perfectly accompany curried chicken and that would be none other than naan bread.

Homemade Naan Bread

Since I felt like I was going “old-school” with the recipe card, I decided to go “new-school” with the naan bread. To be honest, I didn’t even know if you could make naan bread at home, so I just tweeted it! The joys of Twitter brought me a bunch of replies, including a recipe from Elizabeth (p.s. thanks again!) over at the Guilty Kitchen. Not knowing my lack of baking prowess, she claimed it was easy to do and thankfully she was right. I’m happy to report my dough did what it was supposed to do, I more or less rolled the dough properly and I saw the bubbles form which meant it was time to flip the naan over. The end result, I made naan bread and most importantly, it even tasted like naan bread!

With the naan bread complete and my confidence surging I had time to reminisce while I was continuing with the curried chicken. The best part about attempting this recipe was the connection I felt to Hannah. I could feel her presence while chopping the onions and browning the chicken and I thought fondly back to our time together. I thought back to me and my sister being watched by her and Eddie when my parents would take a well-deserved night off or finally being able to return the favor and take care of her when I was older when she needed some of my help.

Reminiscing about Hanna and Eddie

Well, her presence must have helped me, because like the naan bread, I made curried chicken! Excuse all the exclamation points, but I never thought I’d write that sentence.

As I expected when I set out with this challenge, it’s tough to “whip up” some curried chicken in a matter of minutes. In all, from start to finish, the dish (and its 12 or so steps that fit on a recipe card) probably took about 80 minutes to prepare, but that includes a cooking time of 50 minutes where I was free to work on the rice, naan bread and some initially puzzling side dishes.

At the end of the recipe, it calls for the curried chicken to be served with rice and halved hard-boiled eggs, chutney, chopped peanuts, banana mashed with honey and raisins. Even though I checked and it’s not uncommon to see a hard-boiled egg with a curried dish, I passed on that option. I did do the banana one and I did not enjoy it, it was simply a strange texture with the chicken, but if I see it in a restaurant, I will likely order it, maybe I did something wrong!

As for the peanuts, they were great with the chicken and I chose a coriander chutney since the chicken was cooked with coriander seed, again, that was great. And as expected, the naan bread scooped and soaked up all the extra goodness on the plate.

Did I tackle a classic dish outside of my comfort zone? Absolutely, but I admit to having a little help along the way.

Voting for Challenge #2 of Project Food Buzz begins on September 27 at 9am EST and ends September 30th at 9pm EST. Check out my profile and thanks again everyone!

Hannah’s Curried Chicken

Curried Chicken Ingredients

Curried Chicken Directions and yes, I'm wearing a Maestro Fresh Wes t-shirt, purple shorts and an awesome Swatch watch

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63 Comments

Filed under Curried Chicken, Naan Bread

63 responses to “PFB Challenge #2 – Classic Curried Chicken & Naan Bread with a little help

  1. Fab recipe, fab story! Thanks for sharing and GOOD LUCK!

  2. Looks like Indian food is a popular choice for this challenge, but everyone’s story is different. I’m sure you made Hannah proud. Good luck.

  3. Melanie

    Great story, Ethan. And the food looks amazing! I’m glad you didn’t listen to me re the naan. I may have to check out Guilty Kitchen’s recipe now.

    Good luck with challenge #2. I bet you’ll go through. You’ve got the power of Hannah and Eddie behind you now. πŸ™‚

  4. Awesome story and the photo of your grand parents in the fedora and fur? Just brilliant! I’m so glad my naan recipe turned out for you, see easy as pie!

    Challenging yourself in the kitchen is always a nerve racking experience, but when everything turns out, it just feels so good!

    Funny thing about grandparents not wanting you to call them grandma and grandpa, mine did the same too! (I still call him that when he’s not around though!)

    You’ve got my vote!

    PS. I’m over the moon jealous that you have such a recipe book to look through while remembering all the good old times (Swatch watch! neon shorts!), I have no such thing from anyone in my family!

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      Elizabeth, thanks again for answering my tweet, the confidence to make the naan bread and your vote!

      So the end of the story of calling them by their first names, I would call them that even when they weren’t around and I’d always end up seeing people with a confused look on their face since they had no idea I was actually talking about my grandparents.

      P.S. I’ll be going through that book for more of Hannah’s recipes and I’ll be all too willing to share them with you. I found this recipe for homemade French dressing and my dad’s knees buckled when I mentioned it. Knee buckling is always a good sign!

  5. Oh Ethan – that story is fabulous. What an honor to get to read it! I just recently was sent the recipe cards from my late grandmother in her writing – they’re truly a treasure when you love to cook. The largest picture of them is fabulous – what a beautiful couple! Go Ethan!

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      Thanks Kimmy! I know, we’ve come a long way from hand-written recipe cards and there’s still something about them that is magical. I look forward to seeing some of your grandmother’s recipes through your eyes:)

  6. First of all: your story is super CUTE! I wish I could have met Hannah! She sounds like an Italian mom, scared her beloved son is going to starve once he marries a “new-generation” woman haha so so so cute. Second: I lived in India for a year. I had a chance of learning some good dishes and the tricks on how to make them successfully. I have to say: Indian cuisine is very hard and haunting. People think you just need to put spicies but if you put even just a tidy bit too much or too little of one spice you dish will turn out a disaster instead of a masterpiece…no mid way! So for this, all my admiration for a great performance on the challenge. Now, next time I just want to be invited for dinner and I’ll say cute a third time!

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      Thanks, I got a cute! Just like in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, everyone saw their own family in that movie, Greek, Italian, Jewish (in my case) with the somewhat pushy, yet always caring family just wanting what’s best for their loved ones, but having a funny way of demonstrating it!

      I definitely learned a lot cooking this dish and you’re right, there did seem to be a fine line with the usage of all the spices, thankfully, I stayed true and didn’t try to play with the recipe!

      Sara – you’re invited anytime whether you use the word “cute” or not. (inside joke via Twitter)

  7. Amy

    Such a sweet story. I miss my Nan and Papa SO much. I used to find Indian food daunting, but I started making it a year back and now it’s seems pretty simple. I make a pretty kick-ass Chickpea Curry and Chicken Tikka Masala. However, I still struggle with homemade bread (of any kind). I snatched that Naan recipe when you and Guilty Kitchen were chatting – I have it printed out. Maybe this weekend? Good luck, Ethan! I am totally rooting for you.

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      Thanks Amy! I don’t have have any grandparents left either, which I think made this recipe call out to me even more and made it that much more special.
      I may need to tackle that chickpea curry and Chicken Tikka Masala recipe next time I make naan bread:)
      Good luck with your naan!

  8. Bravo! My family’s from Pakistan and we don’t even make our own naan. I wonder if the bananas were intended to be a pudding-like dessert?!? I’ve certainly never seen them with a main course.

    PS: Your grandparents look fabulous!

    PPS: You’ve got my vote, fo’ sho’ πŸ™‚

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      Azmina, you’ve made me feel better about the banana thing, thank you!
      P.S. The picture is timeless, thank you:)
      P.P.S Thanks for your vote, fo’sho!

  9. Awesome story! Very impressed that you made naan–I’ve never tried that myself, but now that we’re making more Indian food it would be wise to try.

    Nothing wrong with a dish that takes some time to prepare–I’m so tired of seing “super-super-simple-OMG it’ll take you 5 seconds!!” meals everywhere, because sometimes putting time against a time-intensive dish is more than worth it.

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      Thanks Elizabeth, glad you liked it:) It was much easier than I thought it would be, but I had to try it to actually know it, right? Simple and fast is good sometimes, but cooking close to 90 minutes made me feel truly accomplished!

  10. Love the story! Just one thing to add about the side dishes – it sounds to me very much like a “Raj” version of a curry and very much like the curries my parents used to turn out. I imagine my parents are quite close to your grandparents in age, so it isn’t unreasonable to assume it may be so. My Mum would always put half a boiled egg, some sliced cucumber, some sliced apple, sliced tomato, sultanas and anything else that came to mind – including mango chutney, beside her curries. It was the “British Raj” way of presenting a curry, simple as that! πŸ™‚

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      That actually makes a lot of sense. I’d say the recipe dates back to the 1960’s and my grandmother would have been very influenced by the British, as she was also a big fan of sitting down for afternoon tea and scones. I might have to go find some hard-boiled eggs and curry pretty soon, now i’m very intrigued.
      Thanks for the history lesson Jenny:)

  11. janis33

    Love your post! I love Indian food. I have never made naan but now I want to give it a try!

  12. What an amazing story and so cool how you found out about the naan.

    Best of luck – I loved reading your post.

  13. wants2bsurfing

    GL GL!!!! πŸ™‚

  14. This story is beautiful! I especially LOVE the picture of Hannah and Eddie all dressed up. They look so perfect, I love that people used to dress that way!

    Great job with the chicken and the naan! Good luck to round #3!

    PS Awesome swatch! πŸ™‚

  15. What a great story! Thanks for sharing your family.

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      thank you Clarice! My dad commented to me how much he’s enjoying all the nice comments about his mom and that picture of his parents!

  16. Awesome post, totally unique and a great read! Vote secured! Canada has got it goin’ on!

  17. the banana is perplexing to me, I have never heard of it. but now i want to try it.

  18. This looks so good – and curry scares me to death. I would be very willing to try yours however. When should I be there?

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      Hmm, from Indiana, it’s about 10ish hours. So let me know when you start driving and i’ll start making it about 8 hours later!

  19. I love Hannah and Eddie! What a great post. So sweet. Good luck πŸ™‚

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      I love the shout-outs my grandparents are getting, thanks:)
      Good luck to you as well, off to check it out now!

  20. Look at that FAB picture!!!! Your grandparents were totally adorable!! My grandmother’s name is Hannah, too! Best of luck- I voted for you!

  21. I was pretty excited to see what you had in store after your intro post, you definitely didn’t disappoint. Another great and what looks like a great recipe. There’s nothing wrong with getting by with a little help from your friends. Voting for you!

    Lick My Spoon

  22. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story. History and keeping up tradition that is passed down to us by our elders is priceless. The recipe typed should be treasured. This is something you can treasure for all of your days. The food sounds amazing. I love your story …

  23. A sweet story, nicely told. There’s just a whole other dimension to dishes when they have such a rich family background.

  24. Bravo Ethan! I love this story. I love Hannah’s recipes. I especially adore that black/ white photo of them. They were so elegant. You have my vote:)

  25. I’d vote for you for the swatch watch alone. HA, just kidding — I love this post and the family tie-in. Special recipes are the best! You have a vote from me.

    My own entry was an Indian dessert, Gulab Jamun, soaked in rosewater, cardamom, and saffron syrup β€” and some very sweet memories.

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      The Swatch, but not the purple shorts? Thanks for your vote Julie! I saw your entry and voted, your dessert would have paired perfectly with my entree:)

  26. I feel the same way…for some reason, Indian food is a daunting task!! Looks like you conquered it though. Great family story, too!
    Good luck on PFB!

  27. Super Kelly

    That recipe sounds delicious, I am enjoying the blog. I like the stories and the photos as much as the food talk. The Maestro Fresh Wes shirt was the best! Looking forward to entry #3!

    • Tastes Better With Friends

      Thanks Kel! I still have the Maestro shirt, it’s a little beat up though. Maybe i’ll break it out down the road:)

  28. I have treasured recipes with comments and suggestions that have been passed down from the women in my family…and they really are the best. πŸ™‚

  29. What a lovely story! And such great pictures. Thanks for the glimpse into your family history, Ethan.

  30. If I found a cookbook like that in my family’s archives I think I’d pass out. How totally amazing and what a treasure!

  31. Katharina

    Ohh my goodness so my fate is telling me that I need some delicious naan bread now πŸ˜€ What a great entry, and just your story behind this is wonderful. Hannah and Eddie look like quite the couple! You’ve definitely got my vote πŸ™‚

    XOXO best of luck!

    p.s. I agree with the name of your blog! I’m an only child, but I just enjoy things more when I share them.

    http://www.ohonemorething.wordpress.com

  32. Your story gave me goose bumps. Beautiful and touching post. I wish Hannah was there to eat it with you πŸ™‚

  33. oh and you’re so getting my vote.

  34. This is a great post. I’m so sorry you didn’t make it through to the next round.

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