Indian cuisine is one of my absolute favorites, yet I know relatively little about the warm spices, complex flavors and combinations that I love so much. That changed some this weekend, when I had the pleasure of hosting an Indian cooking class in my kitchen, taught by the wonderful Lini Mazumdar. Lini is a talented chef, caterer, certified herbalist, counselor of Ayurvedic nutrition, and a genuinely lovely person. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to spend a Saturday afternoon with her and a great group of women, learning about Indian dishes, spices and some of the Ayurvedic principles that inform her cooking.
Lini lives with her family on Anjali Farm in South Londonderry Vermont where she operates her tiffin catering business and Lotus Moon Medicinals. Her cooking style is right up my alley- she rarely follows a recipe, but rather cooks intuitively, a little of this and a little of that, tasting as she goes. She values fresh, organic and seasonal ingredients as the basis for her cooking, and promotes a simple, well-rounded menu that offers a variety of vegetables and spices.
My experience with Indian food has been limited to the dishes I’ve had in restaurants over the years -ranging from dive joints to very fine modern Indian cuisine, but alas, they do tend to serve the same “greatest-hits”. I learned on Saturday that Indian food can be so much more. As Lini says, “Once you have the basics down, let your imagination, sense of smell and color guide you to be bold and creative in your kitchen using fresh ingredients and seasonal produce.”
Check out her website for more information on Lotus Moon Medicinals, Tiffin catering and Anjali Farm.
One of the dishes we made was a unique Chicken Curry with Tomato and Ginger Sauce. It was easy to make, full of the complex warm spice flavors I love, but different than any “curry” I’ve had.
- 2 lbs boneless chicken breast
- ½ tablespoon cumin seeds
- ⅓ cup coconut oil
- 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 4-6 curry leaves
- 1 dried red chili
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- ½ tablespoon salt, or to your taste
- ½ can of tomato paste, reconstituted with water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Wash and cut chicken into 1 inch cubes. In a pan over medium heat, dry roast cumin seeds. When they start to smell, add coconut oil, curry leaves and ginger. Add the chicken and salt into the pan with the garam masala and cook until the outsides are white, insides still raw.
- Add the reconstituted tomato paste. Allow to cook for 15 minutes, then add the heavy cream and simmer for another 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro and crushed chilies before serving.
- Serve with basmati rice.
A good looking plate of food- Carrot, Cardamom and Raisin Basmati Pilaf, Fresh Cilantro and Mint Chutney, Winter Squash and Coconut Curry, Red Lentil Daal with Spinach, Chicken Curry with Tomato Ginger Sauce, and Green Apple and Mint Raita and naan on the side.