Welcome back to the blog! This year, I have the desire to find a niche with this foodie blog. The best part is…my dear husband Jacob has agreed to help me on this blogging journey! He is quite the storyteller, so his writing skills will be put to good use here (don’t be surprised if these posts are a combination effort from the both of us).
I am going to do my best to combine my two loves in life food and travel (in addition to my husband). Food and travel go together like peanut butter and jelly, like salt and pepper, like…ok, I guess you’ve heard enough. Half of the fun of visiting amazing places all around the world is trying their unique cuisine, and coming home to try and replicate the incredibly diverse foods of the world. When Jacob and I travel, I search out all of the restaurants and foods I want to try before we leave. I’ll admit, I get really excited to try new foods! Jacob and I have been very blessed to travel all over the world, and my goal with this blog is to share my experiences and culinary treats with others who may not have the opportunity to travel as frequently. I hope to discover exotic and delicious foods that I can share with you to help spice up that average Tuesday night dinner. First off? We head to the land of princes and princesses, of sophistication and class: London, England.
Last year, the two of us had the chance to travel to London where my hubby lived for a few years. When people think of food from England, they either imagine fish n’ chips or nasty mushy peas. (Seriously, they’re not even worth a google search. Bleh!) Apparently, the culture is changing and embracing international cuisine, and curry has become the staple food of the British. In many of the local markets in London, local immigrants would set out these massive pots of curry that would sit and simmer before our very eyes. The spices were always a cacophony of delicious smells, assaulting my nose with their unique tastes. As is usually the case, some of the best food unique to the area is found off the beaten path, away from Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London.
In the neighborhood of Elephant and Castle, south of the Thames, there’s this little hole-in-the-wall curry restaurant run by a couple of guys from Pakistan called Chatkara (shout out to you guys, your food is AMAZING.) This was Jacob’s favorite place to eat in all of London when he had lived there. For a couple of pounds we purchased some tikka masala, korma and freshly made naan bread all served with rice. The Naan is slapped to the side of the oven where it cooks, and is garnished with parsley and a hint of garlic. It was my first time trying authentic curry from the East. It was like an angel descended into that dirty little shop and blessed that dish, because it was pure heaven to my palate. It was ten times better than the jar curry that Jacob introduced to me while we were dating. I even passed on the fish n’ chips just so I could go back and get more of that mouthwatering curry. While we were at the little restaurant, Jacob went up to the man behind the counter (was it the third time in four days? Maybe it was the fourth…) and told him that that was the best in all of London, and it made the owner so happy. He blushed and gave us a free bunch of freshly baked naan bread. Since coming home, I have been on a mad hunt to fulfill my curry cravings. I’ve tried many different recipes and none of them have even came close to that delectable dish from London. Finally, the other day, I came across a recipe for tikka masala and I’ll admit it it tasted pretty darn close to the real thing. I am seriously considering abandoning our travel plans to Italy in a month just so I can go back to London and eat at Chatkaras again…
I love to try some pretty exotic recipes, but living in a small town, I’ve realized that it can be hard to find many of the ingredients I need for my recipes. When finding the ingredients for this tikka masala recipe, I searched every one of the three stores in town and could not find garam masala (one of the main ingredients) anywhere! Finally, after accepting defeat I broke down and bought the spice on Amazon as well as turmeric (another spice needed in the recipe, it is so expensive here!). This past weekend, I spent the evening trying out this recipe. I was pretty impressed with the way this curry turned out. I think I could’ve added more coconut milk, since I really like a strong coconut taste in my curry, but other than that it was delicious! Also just a word of advice, don’t get too carried away with the garam masala (unless you want your curry to taste like pure cinnamon). A few more times making this curry and I think I will be able to find that perfect combination of flavors. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients (especially the spices) in this recipe until you find the flavor that you like. I consider it a pretty forgiving recipe.
Adapted From: Stranded on the Island
- 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1-2 cups plain yogurt
- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup coconut milk (or the whole can)
- 3-4 tbsp garam masala
- 1-2 tbsp turmeric
- 1-2 tbsp paprika
- 1-2 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
Before cooking, soak the chicken breasts in the yogurt, 1 tbsp of the garam masala, and salt. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours to allow the chicken to soak in the flavors.
Mince the garlic cloves. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and sauté the garlic along with the ginger on medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
Turn the heat to high and add the chicken to the pan. Stir in 2 tbsp of tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to low and add the diced tomatoes to the chicken.
Add salt, sugar, garam masala, paprika, cumin and turmeric, adding a tablespoon of each until you reach the desired taste. Pour in the coconut milk and stir until the mixture is combined. Simmer the ingredients until the chicken is cooked.
Serve with rice and naan.