I’ve always loved Indian food. I think I truly fell in love with it while living in London. It seemed that in every neighborhood, on nearly every corner there was an Indian restaurant. Some of them were informal and had just okay lunch buffets, some of them a notch up the scale and offered great take-out, still others offered an elegant sit-down dinner experience. I loved them all, depending on my time and budget constraints!
Recently I’ve started cooking some Indian food. I requested (and got) a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook for Christmas, and I’ve been looking at her recipes and spice combinations. I was pleased to discover that I had most of the spices in my cabinet already, but rarely combined them in an “Indian” way. Once you begin to get familiar with the flavor combinations and how to achieve them a lot of the mystery goes out of cooking a particular style of cuisine, and I’ve begun to experiment with Indian style non-recipe dinners.
Here is a marinade that I created using spice combinations inspired by the sub-continent.
Indian-Inspired Yogurt Marinade
makes about 1 cup
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1 green chili pepper
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper seeds
- 1/4 tsp. coriander seeds
- 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp. ground tumeric
- 1/4 tsp. garam masala
In a small spice grinder (coffee grinders work wonderfully – I have one just for spices) combine cumin, pepper, and coriander seeds until they are roughly ground. Finely chop the garlic and chili. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and stir to combine. Marinate the meat of your choice for 1 hour to overnight.
This time I used some lamb chops that were on sale at the supermarket. I slathered the marinade on them, wrapped them in plastic, and stuck them in the fridge until I was ready to eat (probably around 3 hours). A quick trip under the broiler and they were tasty little meat lollypops. Here, I served them with a simple mushroom rice pilaf and glazed carrots.
I’ll probably use the extra marinade for some chicken breasts later in the week. Maybe I’ll chop up some pepper and onions and turn them into kabobs and serve them with pita or naan, and tzatziki sauce or raita.