Part XVII: Down In The Ol’ South (Andhra Pradesh)
I’m gonna say something right now that’s gonna make no damn sense until you try this week’s recipe.
Southern food and Indian food are practically the same thing. Well, maybe not the same thing.
They’re more like really close cousins who would still awkwardly avoid each other at the family reunion.
But think about it. Both of them love their spices. Both of them put a premium on their carbohydrates so they can soak up the left-over sauces and such (biscuits for the Southerners, toasty, delicious naan for the Indians). They both use tons of butter (call it ghee if you want, Paula Deen would still slurp up just as much of it out of a leftover extra-large cup from Wendy’s). And they both love their vegetables, even if one side likes their peas black-eyed instead of…chicked (shut up, it’s a word now). Basically, if you put a plate of Indian food next to a plate of Southern food, they’re gonna look and smell a little different, but the intention’s the same: good-ass, simple food. That’s why I’m combining them, because damnit, they deserve to be together. This week I’m doing Curry Fried Chicken, and making some Coriander and Garlic Naan to go with it. I’m starting a romance you didn’t even know existed.
Here’s what you need:
-3-3 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-3/4 teaspoon cayenne
-1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
-1 tablespoon salt (you’ll need an extra tablespoon later)
-1 teaspoon Ras al Hanout (for those who think this is a rejected Batman villain…no. It’s a Moroccan curry blend. And it’s both ridiculously tasty, and pleasantly mild, for those of us who enjoy having an intact anus post-meal. If you can’t find any, just use some yellow curry powder, garam masala or madras. Whatever curry-related stuff you have lying around’ll work fine)
-2 teaspoons black pepper (same, make sure you have a tablespoon for later)
-3/4 cup greek yogurt
-1/4 cup milk
-3 cups panko
-1 tablespoon cornstarch
-1 container vegetable oil (I know it’s a lot, but you’re gonna need it for the frying. Just get the whole big container, and then you can fry more stuff. See? You get to be fat and I get to stop listening to your incessant complaining. Everyone wins.)
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 red onion
-3 cloves garlic
-1 tablespoon ginger (peeled)
-2 tablespoons tomato paste
-1 tablespoon brown sugar
-1 tablespoon ground cumin
-1 tablespoon Ras el Hanout (see note above)
-2 dashes red chile flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
-1 teaspoon turmeric
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup greek yogurt
-4 1/2 cups water
-2 cups Jasmine rice
-1 1/4 cups AP flour
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 tablespoon ground coriander
-1 garlic clove, finely chopped
-1 teaspoon yeast
-2 teaspoons honey
-115ml lukewarm water (yes, it’s in milliliters, god forbid we should try using a measurement that’s not based on the fourth king of England’s left ring finger. Also the recipe I stole this from uses european measurements. So there’s that.)
-1/4 cup greek yogurt
-1 tablespoon olive oil (I used Persian lime flavored, it’s awesome if you have it. But again…don’t fall over yourself trying to get it, regular works just fine)
A few comments on this giant wall of ingredients before I get started. First…you’re gonna end up with a lot of fried chicken. Some call that a problem. I call them idiots. It might be because I’ve been drinking and I don’t feel like trying to cut 3/4 in half and make it work, but I think dealing with extra fried chicken is a whole lot easier (hint: eat it). Second, do everything in the right order. The chicken has to sit overnight, and the naan has to take a few hours to rise. I know this. You know this. But some asshole’s gonna come on this site, do the curry first, and then complain how they had to wait 4 hours to eat because they don’t understand how yeast works. Don’t be that guy. Follow the damn recipe step by step. Last, the pictures aren’t gonna line up exactly with the recipe. That’s because I changed a few things. Mainly, added way more panko and nixed the potatoes and squash. If I’m gonna kill myself with flavor, I’m not gonna have any pesky Vitamin C getting in my way.
Here’s how you do it:
Chicken pt. 1:
Take all that wonderful chicken and cut it up into long strips. You don’t have to be exact, just make it the size of chicken strips. Remember the last time you ordered chicken strips at some burnt-out hull in the side of the mall? Make them those size. Or the size of chicken nuggets. Basically, you can do whatever size you want to put in your mouth. The chicken is your canvas. Go ahead and quote me on that, you’ll sound awful.
Next, mix up all your seasonings in a small bowl: a tablespoon of salt, 2 teaspoons black pepper, the paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and Ras el Hanout.
Put the chicken in a bowl, toss it with your seasonings, and cover it with some plastic wrap. Throw it in the fridge overnight, we’ll get back to it later.
Naan pt. 1:
Put your flour and salt into a bowl and whisk it, then throw in the garlic, coriander and yeast and stir.
Next, make a little well in the center of the bowl (see the picture above) and pour in all the liquids: water, yogurt, oil and honey (don’t you dare tell me two of those are amorphous solids or whatever, it’s close enough).
Stir the whole thing together with a wooden spoon till the dough comes together, then knead it for 10 more minutes on a floured surface (the recipe said “knead well”. OK recipe, I was gonna do a piss-poor job of my kneading, but OH WELL). If you need to add more water, do it a teaspoon at a time until it gets to the right consistency.
Brush a bowl with oil, then roll the dough into a ball and plop it in. Cover it with a wet towel (not a paper towel, a real one), and wait for two hours. When it’s doubled in size, it’s ready.
Chicken pt. 2: The Frypocalypse
OK, here comes the fun/dangerous part.
First, get your chicken out of the fridge, and let it sit at room temperature for an hour.
Get your vegetable oil, pour enough so it’ll just cover the chicken, and heat it up on medium-high in the biggest skillet you got. If you have a candy thermometer, you want it to get in the neighborhood of 350 degrees. If you don’t have one, you still want it to get that hot, you’ll just won’t have a clue about the numbers. Let it heat up for 10 min or so, then throw in a small piece of bread. If it crisps up when you throw it in, you’re good to go.
While that’s heating up, whisk together your panko, cornstarch, and a tablespoon each of salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, 1/2 a cup of water and an egg.
When the chicken’s ready, dredge it in the milk mixture, then in the panko mixture. Throw some in the oil and fry it for about 3 minutes on each side until it’s nice and golden brown, then take it out and let it drain on some paper towels. Repeat over and over until it’s all fried chicken.
Home stretch here, guys. Preheat your oven to 475 now and put a baking sheet in, you’re gonna need it in a bit for the naan.
First, heat up 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan until it comes to a boil. Add a pinch of salt, then add your rice and stir around with a fork. Lower the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Chop up your onion, garlic and ginger.
Then heat up your olive oil in a skillet for a minute on medium high. When it starts to shimmer, throw in the chopped goodies and cook for 4 minutes.
While that’s cooking, put the tomato paste, brown sugar, cumin, ras el hanout, chile flakes, turmeric, and salt in a bowl, and add it to the skillet once those 4 minutes are up. Add a few pieces of chicken, stir it around, and wait another 2.
Next, add the yogurt and water, stir everything around again, and cook for 8 minutes. After that, the curry’s done, but keep it heated up on low while you finish your naan.
Naan, pt. 2:
Take the naan out and punch it. Yes, punch it. Turns out that’s the best way to get your naan into shape, closely followed by making it run up the stairs at stadiums and “stop complaining, ice cream makes you weak anyway, why do you think girls don’t like you”.
Roll the dough into 6 or 8 balls and cover them with cling wrap for 10 minutes. Then roll the balls into teardrop shapes and put them in the oven on your preheated baking sheet for 5 minutes. You’re gonna want to roll them thinner than I did…as you can see below, they puff up. A lot. Make em’ thin.
While it’s in the oven, preheat a grill pan or griddle on medium. Take the naan out, brush one side with olive oil, and place the other side down on the griddle for a minute. Flip, brush the other side, repeat, and you’re done.
Well, not quite. For your final side dish, heat up Like a Memory by DJ Mentos, off the excellent album Granted – The Jazz Jousters salute Grant Green: like-a-memory
There’s a few reasons why I decided to make this recipe. One was up there in the intro: it just makes sense. The other’s because it freaking tastes good. But the third reason is that there’s a tiny part of my brain that loves ruining the soul of a recipe. Like putting a few strips of bacon on a veggie burger just to see people lose their damn minds, or finding a really good sugar-free cake recipe and atom-bombing the top of it with completely not sugar-free icing. That kind of thing. In this case, I took a no-butter curry and ruined it by shoving it full of fried chicken. It’s part bringing two cultures together, and part mutually-assured destruction. The southerners get mad at the yogurt, the Indians freak out at the unhealthiness, and I get to sit back and laugh with my bowl full of blasphemic goodness. I love it. See you next time, folks.
And here’s the fantastic recipe I stole: http://www.swapnascuisine.com/2012/02/coriander-and-garlic-naan-recipe.html