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. 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.
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.
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.
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