Mix It Up!

As you can tell from this two-gallon glass jar, we eat a lot of rice in my house.  This, my friend,  is nothing.

I grew up with an entire 20-gallon bucket of rice that was stored under the kitchen sink in my parents’ house.   It’s the only place it would fit and we couldn’t lift the thing more than 3 inches off the ground, sooo there it stayed!

I was the rice preparer in the family and I’ve washed and cooked enough rice as a child to consider it illegal child labor!

Unfortunately, according to my parents it is the job of every youngest child in the Chinese family to cook the rice.  The bright side is that now it’s my 6-year old daughter’s job in the kitchen.  The irony is………..she LOVES doing it!  It’s a win-win situation.

It seems the whole world is in a tizzy about eating healthy and organic, so I decided to ease my family into it a bit without causing a big raucous.  No, I haven’t totally cleared my pantry of processed food stuffs.

I would have a mutiny on my hands people!

So this is my kitchen tip for rice:  Mix it up!!  Add in organic brown rice with your regular white rice.  Genius, right?  My mixture here is 50/50.  You do have to remember that you either want to add more water when cooking the rice this way, or soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes before cooking, to soften the brown rice.

This little tip has my family eating healthier without the big flavor shock and I feel like I pulled one over on the little buggers!

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Chicken Masala

 

Once in a while, my husband and I go on lunch dates.  So, we found this new Indian restaurant with a really good lunch buffet special and decided to give it a try.  Walking up to the warm chafing dishes in the buffet line was a bit daunting. We didn’t recognize the ingredients and knew even less about what they tasted like.  So, like most people, we took a little of everything to see what sticks.  His second time around, my husband returned with a big plate of rice and only chicken tikka masala.  He obviously made the decision on his favorite dish.

I’ve omitted the tikka from my dish because tikka refers to chicken in the form of chunks or cubes.  My chicken masala is made with whole chicken legs.  I hope that didn’t break any Indian rule about masala.  If so, I plead ignorance! And, I kinda like the way the bone-in chicken adds to the depth of flavor in this dish.

Because of this dish, I’ve introduced the spices turmeric, coriander and garam masala to my spice cupboard.  They really jazz up the look of my spice bottle with those punches of color too.  The turmeric surprised me the most.  I used it for the rice and was shocked to see it had turned my usually boring white rice into neon yellow.  The green peas also added great dots of color and texture. I now understand why Indian fabrics and clothing are so vibrant.  They need to compete with the food for attention!

 

Chicken Masala

adapted from pioneerwoman.com


4 whole Chicken Legs (thigh and drum)

Kosher Salt

Ground Coriander

Cumin, To Taste

½ cups Plain Yogurt

6 Tablespoons Butter

1 whole Large Onion

4 cloves Garlic

1 piece (approximately 2 Inches) Chunk Fresh Ginger

3 Tablespoons Garam Masala

1 can (28 Ounce) Diced Tomatoes

Sugar

1-½ cup Heavy Cream

2 cups Basmati Rice

Optional

Fresh Cilantro

Turmeric

Frozen Peas

Start by seasoning the chicken legs with some kosher salt. Next sprinkle them on both sides with some coriander and cumin. Then coat the chicken completely with the plain yogurt. Set the chicken on a metal rack over a foil-lined baking sheet and place it about 10-12 inches below a broiler for 10 minutes per side. Watch carefully so as not to totally char the chicken. It should have slightly blackened edges. Remove from oven.

Next dice one large onion. In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and sauté until they are slightly browned. As the onions cook, mince your garlic. Next, cut off the outer skin and mince or grate a 1×2 inch chunk of fresh ginger. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions. Also throw in about 1 tablespoon of salt.

Next you are going to add the garam masala spice. And if you like it hot, this is also when you will add your hot chili peppers (optional). Serranos work well. Now you are going to add the can of diced tomatoes. Continue cooking and stirring, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add about 1 tablespoon sugar. Let this mixture simmer on medium for about 5 minutes.

To a rice cooker add 2 cups basmati rice, 4 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon ground turmeric and 4 cups water. Cover, turn on your rice cooker and walk away. If you do not have a rice cooker, cook your rice as usual but make sure that you use basmati rice. You can also throw some frozen peas into the cooked rice, give them a stir, and allow the heat of the rice to cook the peas.

After the masala sauce has had a chance to simmer for a little bit, add in the 1½ cups of heavy cream. Now add the chicken legs into the masala sauce. A handful of chopped fresh cilantro is a nice addition if you like cilantro.  Serve the rice with the chicken masala over top.