For my last birthday This past summer, my BFF M. gave me this cookbook, from the Vancouver restaurant Vij’s. I have never been to the restaurant, but the cookbook is exactly the type I like: geographically rooted in one cuisine, not too wide of a subject area, doesn’t proclaim to be a ‘bible’, and is locally inspired. It even has suggested wine pairings for each dish! This is not your average Indian cookbook: it is bold and nontraditional and recipes for Butter Chicken or Lamb Pasanda are nowhere to be found. The first time I thumbed through it, on the drive from Ingonish to Halifax in August, my stomach immediately started grumbling thinking of the amazing food to come.
That being said, I have no idea why I chose a recipe so complicated as my inaugural introduction to this book. This chicken dish with tomato curry ranks as one of the most complicated single dishes I’ve ever made (2 or 3 course meals are different). Luckily I chose to make it on a day I knew I’d have the time. Here are the rough steps:
- Marinate chicken (3-4 hours before you want to eat) in a combination of ghee or oil [I used oil, as I didn’t have time to make the ghee before I had to marinade it], lemon juice, cayenne pepper, paprika, ground coriander, ground cumin, and salt.
- Make tomato broth: boil, simmer, and strain approx. 1.8kg of tomatoes in water.
- Make tomato curry by combining broth and spices and simmering.
- Make ghee (first time I’d made it).
- Roast garlic cloves & cashews separately, and set aside.
- (Meanwhile cook rice).
- Prepare ghee & lemon dressing.
- Grill chicken, deglazing with dressing from step 7.
- Assemble (yes, a step in itself): chicken over rice and then drizzle with the garlic, cashews, and tomato curry!
- Collapse exhausted, and enjoy.
In total I was in the kitchen 3-4 hours. I am surprised H. didn’t break down and order a takeaway during the process! The dish did not disappoint: it was PACKED full of flavour — almost too much, as there is a lot going on and a lot of competing tastes.
We both really enjoyed this meal but given that it is so cumbersome to prepare, I’m not sure whether I’d make it again. I can definitely see how the time would be cut down making this in a restaurant, as you’d have most of the elements ready and prepared, but I don’t think it’s practical for most home cooks. Many other dishes (including delicious Indian curries) are just as flavourful but much easier. Spending time in the kitchen is something I really enjoy, and normally as soon as I start preparing a meal I feel the day’s stress slip away (ok a glass of wine helps sometimes!), but a lot of finicky and complicated steps made for a slightly more stressful experience.
That being said, I am looking forward to trying and sharing many future recipes from this book, so please stay tuned. 🙂