Sunday, April 22, 2007

Chicken in a Fried Onion Sauce (Murghi rasedar) Review

3.5 stars (on a 5 star scale)
p. 93

A decent recipe. The initial version was surprisingly mild given that four onions went into the preparation. Three stars. The third round of leftovers (and beyond), after the recipe sat for several days, was better, with stronger and more interesting flavors. That'd be four stars.

The main aspect preventing the dish from getting a better rating is the chicken. It was fairly tasteless; no flavor penetrated it.

Although the taste of the sauce wasn't initially assertive, the smell was. The puree smelled strongly of onions and ginger and, to some extent, garlic. The fried onions smelled potently of, well, onions. My apartment smelled of fried onions for several days after cooking. These facts make it even more surprising that the sauce, until it sat for a time, wasn't that strong. (Maybe most of the flavors went into the air?)

Incidentally, the dish felt like it ought to have rice. It actually requires little because the sauce is relatively mild and only slightly more than is required to cover the chicken. Thus, although it requires little rice, it should have some.

Some notes on the ingredients:
  • I used 2.1 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets. The recipe called for 2.5 pounds of skinless chicken parts; it's not clear if the recipe wanted bones or not. I figured 2.1 pounds was close enough that it wouldn't matter much either way.
  • As the recipe didn't specify which type, I chose to use red onions.
  • I forgot the cilantro/parsley garnish.

Some notes on the preparation are below. One common theme is cooking takes longer than one might expect.
  • Peeling tomatoes is easy using the technique described on p. 30: drop tomatoes in boiling water for 15 seconds, rinse with cold water until cool, and peel by hand.
  • Frying onions takes a while.
  • When adding the paste, it didn't splatter or sizzle as the recipe suggested it would. Maybe I should've fried the paste at a higher heat? I fried it at medium, as the recipe directed.
  • The paste was supposed to brown within four minutes. I waited close to ten without any significant color change, then continued on with the recipe.
  • By accident, I simmered the mixture uncovered.
  • The last simmering stage said to simmer "for 7-8 minutes or until the sauce reduces and thickens." I was hungry so after eight minutes, although the sauce was thin, I ate. I simmered more later and the sauce properly reduced.

frying pureed onions

finished dish, in pan

Carrot and Onion Salad (Gajar aur pyaz ka salad) Review

2 stars (on a 5 star scale)
p. 217

Disappointing. The onion overpowers the rest of the flavors. It's so strong the salad is hard to eat. Maybe I shouldn't have used a red onion. (The recipe didn't specify. I used a red onion simply because most Indian recipes use red onions. This cookbook, sadly, never mentions anywhere what type of onions to use.) Or maybe I should've used four carrots, not three. The recipe calls for three carrots, "about half a pound," and I guess I chose smaller carrots because it turns out I should've used four to get half a pound. On the other hand, in an attempt to make the salad more palatable, I tried removing the onions; the result was simply not interesting. Adding the onions gradually back makes the salad remain not interesting until a particular point at which it switched instantly to having too much onion pungency. There was no middle ground.

Incidentally, match-sticking carrots is a pain.

Random remark: What the heck does "bring to a boil again. Boil rapidly for 2 seconds only" mean?! It's impossible to be so accurate with two seconds whereas defining boiling is much less precise.