Biscuits and Chicken Curry “Gravy”

biscuits and gravy
When I met Matt and he first moved to Texas from Tennessee, he marveled at how us West Texans liked to “smother” our food.  Smothered burritos, smothered chili cheese dogs, biscuits and tons of gravy.  I never really thought about it till he pointed it out.  We certainly aren’t a “sauce on the side” kind of culture.  I grew up eating biscuits and gravy on Saturday mornings as a rare treat.  It was by far my favorite comfort food growing up and remains so to this day.  Matt even prefers rolls to biscuits.  I’m the opposite.  Opposites really do attract.  So I suppose it was a natural progression to eventually combine two lovely opposites – spicy Indian sauced dishes and Southern biscuits and gravy.

This dish was a fabulous invention.  Won’t even pretend to be humble about it.  I made a crockpot full of chicken tikka masala a couple weeks ago and I thought, instead of the traditional naan flatbread, I would serve it over buttermilk biscuits for a collision of India meets West Texas.  It worked.  Really well.  The crispy, fluffy, buttery biscuit was the perfect little sponge for the spicy, sweet curry.  The biscuit recipe was from one of our favorite cookbooks, Fire in My Belly.  The recipe calls to grate frozen butter into the flour to create the most even distribution of butter I’ve ever seen!  What a great technique! The crockpot recipe was wonderful, too, but I’m excited to try my friend, Katrina’s recipe, as it’s on a stained recipe card and comes by way of her Indian friend.  You know that’s got to be good. Next time, I will.  And I’ll definitely serve it with a side of biscuits 🙂
Biscuits
Buttermilk Biscuits*
makes two dozen

4 cups (20 oz) AP flour
3 TBS (1 1/4 oz) baking powder
2 TBS (3/4 oz) sugar
1 TBS+2 tsp (1/2 oz) salt
14 TBS (7 oz) butter, frozen
2 cups (14 oz) buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Using a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture, tossing after each quarter stick of butter to coat the butter shards with flour.  Toss to combine.  Stir in 1 3/4 cups of the buttermilk and, using large strokes and stirring from the bottom up, stir just enough to combine the mixture into a crumbly mass.  If the dough doesn’t come together, stir in more buttermilk a tablespoon at a time, just until the mixture barely holds together.

Dust a clean, flat work surface with flour.  Scrape the dough onto the floured surface, gather into a ball and gently knead with the palms of your hands about 10 times, just enough to form a cohesive dough ball.  Sprinkle a little more flour onto the dough and gently roll or pat into an even 3/4 inch thickness.

Dip a 2 1/2 inch round biscuit butter in flour and punch out the biscuits.  Gather any remaining dough, knead a few times to form a cohesive ball and roll or pat the dough into an even 3/4 inch thickness.  Repeat until all used up.

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet, close enough so the edges just touch.  Bake until the biscuits start to brown – they should be a rich golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Let the biscuits rest 5 minutes before serving.

*from Kevin Gilespie’s book, Fire in My Belly
Homemade Biscuits

Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala*
serves 4

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size chunks
1/2 onion, finely minced
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons curry paste ( I used Thai Red Curry Paste)
2 tablespoons ground garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can add as much as you want but my kiddo was sharing so I kept the heat down)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14 ounce) can lite coconut milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup half and half

In a large glass measuring cup or bowl mix together the coconut milk, Greek yogurt and half and half. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, ginger and all the spices. Mix well.

Spray the inside of your crockpot bowl with cooking spray or grease with olive oil. Sprinkle the onion over the bottom of the crockpot bowl. Add the chicken and then pour the coconut milk mixture over the chicken so the chicken is completely covered. Add the butter and place the lid on the crockpot. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. I like to stir mine once or twice during cooking, but it is not necessary. When ready to serve, taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve over homemade biscuits 🙂

*adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Kale Paneer

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I received several requests for kale recipes when I asked a couple weeks ago for ideas for this blog.  I wanted to do something a little more challenging or interesting than the typical things you see for kale in the sea of Pinterest such as kale chips, kale salads, wilted kale, etc.  Basically, all the things you could use spinach for, if you were less ambitious.  I’m still not altogether familiar with kale’s flavor profile, but after turning a big bunch of it into creamy, soul-satisfying Indian food, I’m dedicated to finding ways to use this super food.

One of our favorite things to order at our local Indian restaurant is spinach paneer.  Creamy spinach with warm cubes of Indian cheese that doesn’t melt, but spreads wonderfully on a piece of garlic naan.  Truly a comfort food.  I saw this recipe for kale paneer and so I decided to try it for myself.  This girl calls for making a cream by boiling a cup of cashews soaked in hot water.  That sounded like a vegan move and I didn’t really want to buy a cup of cashews (hello, expensive) so I just subbed in  heavy cream, which I always seem to have on hand, and it turned out wonderful.  I also decided after tasting it that the cashews would have added a certain sweetness, so I added in two tablespoons of brown sugar and it was the right move – just enough sweetness to offset the bitterness of the kale and all the spices and it mellowed everything out really well.

For all of you who were wishing I’d do something a little more healthy with kale, like I said; there’s always next time.  But especially on this snowy day (wha?!) I think this recipe fits the bill.  If you lack the myriad of spices this recipe calls for, (I had them all! Proud moment) don’t waste your money at a regular grocery store.  Please go to Ghandi Bazar if you live in Lubbock, (or come to my house; seriously) and if you live elsewhere, I’m sure you can find an Indian market on some back street in your own town.  They know their spices and they’re cheaper than you’d EVER find at a chain grocery store.  Oh, and I didn’t go to Ghandi Bazar to find the paneer.  I was at United and looked up that Queso Blanco (or queso fresco) is very similar to paneer as it won’t melt and has very similar flavors.  It turned out great and got better with each day!

Kale Paneer*
1 medium yellow onion
2 – 3 Garlic Cloves
1 tbsp Minced Ginger
1 tbsp Sunflower or Canola oil
1 1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1/4 – 1/2 tsp Ground Indian Chili Powder OR Cayenne (depending on how spicy you want it to be)
6 cups Chopped Curly Green Kale, packed
1 cup Plain Yogurt
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbs brown sugar
8 oz Paneer* OR Queso Blanco
Salt, to taste

Roughly chop the onion, garlic, and ginger. Heat a large pot over low-medium heat, add oil, then the onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute over low-medium heat until the onions begin to brown, at least 5 minutes. Once browned, add all of the spices and saute for another 1 or 2 minutes.
Add the chopped kale to the pot and saute until bright green.
Add the heavy cream to the kale mixture along with the yogurt and brown sugar, and stir in. Begin pureeing the curry with an immersion blender (or in batches in the regular blender) until smooth and no lumps remain, then transfer to a large bowl.
Once the entire curry has been pureed continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Slice the cheese into small cubes and add to the simmering curry. Keep cooking, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the curry thickens. If you prefer a thinner sauce, or you find the curry has gotten too thick, just add more water until it reaches your desired consistency. Season with salt, to taste, and more brown sugar, if necessary.

*recipe adapted from the adorable blog, Noms for the Poor (what a great name)