Murgh Dehin - Chicken with Buttermilk

Marinade: 2 cups buttermilk 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves 2 1/2 tablespoons spiced onion* 2 1/2 tablespoons catsup 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken pieces (bone in, skin on chicken thighs taste best) Combine buttermilk, spiced onion, catsup, coriander leaves, and salt in a bowl. Add chicken pieces and gently rub the paste into the chicken. Marinate overnight (or at least 5 to 6 hours) in the refrigerator. Curry: 3/4 teaspoon turmeric 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste, I generally like a little less) 1/4 teaspoon garam masala 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin 2 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander Bloom spices in a dry pan over medium high heat to bring out flavors and set aside. The goal is to toast the spices, be careful not to scorch them. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 tablespoons ghee (use 3tbsp of butter if you don't have ghee) 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced 1 1/4 teaspoons minced / grated gingerroot 2 cloves garlic, finely minced / pressed Heat vegetable oil and ghee in a large skillet. If using butter, allow foaming to subside, but not to burn. Add onion and fry until the onions start to caramelize, about 3 minutes over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 min. Don't burn or scorch. bloomed spice mix 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped Add spices and tomato to onions. Cook another 2 minutes over medium heat mixing thoroughly. Marinated chicken and marinade 2 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp butter 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour Heat oil and butter in a stainless or cast iron frying pan until foaming subsides. Remove chicken pieces from marinade and shake off excess (keep the marinade) and place in pan. Cook, in batches 4 to 5 minutes over medium high heat. Chicken should be cooked through (instant read thermometer reads 165F in thickest part of meat). Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Once cool, remove skin from chicken, then remove meat from bones (throw skin and bones in a freezer bag to make an interesting stock later otherwise dispose). Cut meat into bite-sized chunks. If you want carrots or spuds in the curry, fry them for about 5 or 6 minutes until they're browned and have released some of their moisture and then set them aside. Yukon golds work nicely for potatoes, don't cut the carrots too small. They should be about half cooked (you can stick a fork in them, but not easily) at this point. If not, pop them in the microwave for minute or two. Pour off fat from the fryin pan, then use some of the buttermilk marinade to deglaze the frying pan, working with a wooden spoon to loosen and combine any fond (the brown bits). Add flour to curry base and cook until slightly browned. Slowly add marinade, mixing well to create the curry gravy. Bring to gravy to a boil and reduce heat to low. Return meat (and carrots / potatoes is using) to curry, and cook slowly uncovered for about an hour or until curry gravy has thickened and chicken is very tender. Optionally add about a cup of frozen peas about 20 minutes before serving. Serve over boiled rice. Serves 4 to 6. * SPICED ONION 1 medium yellow onions, 1/2 inch of fresh gingerroot, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 large peeled tomato and 1 green chilies Blend in a blender. Add 2 tbsp cup tomato juice, and about 1/2 tbsp of white vinegar if necessary. Blend again until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Pour it into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator until needed. It will stay fresh for about a week as long as the lid is kept tightly closed. Use as needed for each recipe.


Houston, we have landed...

The drive from Rolla Missouri was pretty boring. Once I hit Oklahoma, I put the cruise control on at about 135km/hr and blasted along the straight west. The term "big sky country" kept coming to mind and photos just don't do justice to the scenery. Texas was about as flat and you could go a hundred miles between seeing anything other than a couple of dozen other cars sharing the road. I stopped at Grants, New Mexico after driving just a little over 1600kms (yeah, 1000 miles) and through a huge snow-storm that blew in just before I hit Albequerque. An endless hour of carefully working my way across slimy road in a near white-out took it's toll and it wasn't a conscious decision so much as my body just decided to take the exit and that was that. As crossroads go, it wasn't much, but the room was cheap, included internet and was beside a Denny's. It turned out to be a nice, large room but the internet didn't work and I was too zonked to do anything about it. Finding the entrance to the Denny's parking lot next morning turned out to be a challenge too, but I got my hot breakfast despite the obstacles and was on the road by 7am local time. The sides of the road were dusted with snow and were beautiful in the pre-dawn light. I decided to visit the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest in Arizona since I had made excellent time that morning. I shot dozens of photos, which completely failed to do it justice. The best description I can come up with is that it was an unearthly mixture of vivid pinks, blacks, blues and grays painted on a jumble of hills, mountains and valleys. I think it needs to be seen in person to appreciate it's beauty and grandeur. This is a photo of the Agate Bridge, a petrified tree that arches across a small gap carved out by water. The true effect only hits home when you get close enough to see that it's actually a tree trunk and not just more of the surrounding rock. A while after the Petrified Forest, I passed through Flagstaff, and over the continental divide at an altitude of some 7000 feet at which point I knew it was all downhill from there. And there were some spectacular downhills too. I just stuck it in 6th gear, took my foot off the gas and let it roll. Shortly after crossing the Colorado river, I entered California. The next part of the drive was almost hypnotic as I swept across the Mojave desert. Eventually the road swooped down into the LA basin (I think it was a good vertical mile of drop). After a couple of hours of LA rush-hour that actually moved pretty well, I entered Ventura and swooshed down another mile and a half vertical drop. After that it wasn't far to Carpinteria and the oldish motel I'm currently staying at. I spent the day trying to get in touch with realtors to little avail. Eventually I gave up and headed into Santa Barbara where I stumbled upon a car wash and finally the somewhat tatty Mexican internet cafe where I'm writing this update. I start work tomorrow and hope to find a place some time this week. It's been quite an adventure so far. I think I'm going to call it quits and head over to this micro-brewery that's been recommended to me a few times. Then head home, find some "work appropriate" cloths for tomorrow and call it a night.



I shot through Ontario promptly and enjoyed my last Tim Horton's coffee (and deliciously greasy breakfast sandwich) before crossing the bridge at Sarnia. The border dude wasn't really friendly, but he went through my papers pretty quick and I had my visa in about 45 minutes. The rest of the day I simply put miles behind me, to the tune of about 1400km. Highlites of my drive included dinner at the Steak-n-Shake (delicious burgers instead of steaks, but the shakes were tasty), and crossing the Mississippi river. I stopped to try and take a photo but it didn't turn out. And some drunk hicks in a pickup truck almost ran into my car while attempting to throw a beer bottle through the rear window. At least I think that's what they were trying to do since they missed pretty bad and the bottle glanced off the front side panel and didn't even leave a dent. I'm writing this from a somewhat dinghy Day's Inn in Rolla Missouri. Here's hoping I make such good time tomorrow, although I plan to stop by the next AAA and pick up a "Route 66" attractions map so I don't miss all the sights.


California or Bust

Well, my papers are finally all in order, I hope. Tomorrow morning I hit the road bright and early. The car is packed pretty full (take a look at how low it's riding in the rear). For those of you who haven't yet heard, I'm off to California. My route plan is basically to head for St. Louis then follow Route 66 the rest of the way. I will of course have my radio on 146.520 and 446.000 the whole time in the hopes of chatting up some locals for restaurant recommendations and such en-route. I'll post updates when and if I find motels with internet access. In addition to this blog, you might want to check out my Picasa Web Album for more photos.