I think I have found my kitchen soul mate, and it is India. Everywhere we ate, we encountered copper. Copper drink ware, copper serving pieces, copper pitchers… copper everywhere.
I’ve been collecting copper pieces for a while now. I just love the color and shine. It all started with a copper mixing bowl my dad gave me, and I’ve been picking up pieces here and there ever since.
Copper is used by chefs because of its superior heat conductivity. It allows the cook an even, precise, surface without hot spots. As you change the temperature on your stove top, the temperature of the pot changes almost immediately allowing you more control. I’m not a professional chef, and while the control is nice, I really value the copper for its beauty more than anything else.
I always thought of copper as French, but now I think I need to reconsider this view. I’ve picked up pieces from France, USA, Turkey, Spain and now I’ve seen it all over India. Clearly this is a global cooking medium. You know the ironic part of this? I never saw anything copper in any Indian stores for sale!!! It was almost enough to make me want to pocket my copper water mug and lentil dish, but my bag was too small (I’m kidding, I would never do that.). Maybe I just didn’t visit the right stores. Oh well, my copper quest will continue stateside.
So, I will say there is one down side to this collection of mine… you have to polish the darn stuff. About twice a year, I break out the polish and elbow grease and spend half a day rubbing and scrubbing the shine back into my pieces. The reward is a warm glow that bounces off every piece on display.
When I returned from India, I hosted a “Best of India” party for some friends, and of course, my recently polished copper had to make an appearance. The menu included:
- Spiced Paneer with sauces
- Grilled Chicken Tikka
- Bukhara Inspired Leg of Lamb
- Indian Broiled Fish
- Basmati Pilaf
- Homemade Naan
Whether you have copper pots or not, please do try some of these recipes. Lots of people have told me they don’t like Indian food. I think curry is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of Indian food. There is not one curry on this menu. I’ve tried to simplify the recipes so they aren’t quite as intimidating to a first timer. Should you try them, your reward will be a warm, bright, well seasoned, and beautiful dish… similar to that just polished copper of mine.
Grilled Chicken Tikka
This dish was inspired by another wonderful offering at Bukhara. It was a tender, juicy, and flavorful chicken kabob. The only way to do this is to marinate… The cream, ginger and garlic permeate and tenderize the chicken as it marinates in all the spicy goodness. Too good not to make over and over again!
- 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 lemons, juiced
- 4 Tbsp ginger/garlic paste (*)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 c heavy cream
In a gallon size zip top bag, combine chicken pieces, salt and lemon juice. Close the bag and massage the chicken to mix in the lemon and salt. Then open the bag and add the ginger/garlic paste, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and heavy cream. Close the bag and massage to combine again. Put in the refrigerator to marinate for 4-6 hours, or more.
When ready to serve, grill the chicken over high heat for about 15 minutes, turning half way through. Serve with Mint Sauce and Cucumber Raita.
(*) In a food processor, combine equal parts ginger root and garlic until finely minced. About 2 Tbsp each.
This sauce helps cool some of the heat in spicier Indian dishes.
- 1 Persian cucumber, finely diced
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ c yogurt
- 1 Tbsp mint, finely minced
- 1 Tbsp dill, finely minced
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp ground dried lemons (**)
In a bowl, combine all ingredients and stir to combine.
(**) Available at Indian stores. If you can’t find this, use lemon juice
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp ghee, or butter
- 6 cardamom pods
- 3 small cinnamon sticks
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 c basmati rice
- 1 c fresh dill, roughly chopped
- 3 c chicken broth (or veggie broth if making vegetarian a version)
In a medium pot, melt the ghee or butter over high heat and add the onions. Allow the onions to brown and caramelize, for about 5 minutes. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, and bay and stir and cook for about 1 minute. Then add the rice and stir the rice to coat it with the butter. Allow the rice to roast a bit over high heat, about 3-4 minutes. Some of the rice will brown. Add the dill and chicken broth and stir. Reduce the heat to low, and cover and cook for 30 minutes until done. Remove bay leaves and cinnamon sticks before serving.