Sometimes you just need something simple, undemanding. A meal you don’t need to really think about, plan for or work up a sweat to pull off, something you know you’ll love just by reading the recipe title.
Indian spiced? Vaguely. Certainly not the kind of aromatic and mouth-watering way that I think of when I crave Indian food. It’s one of my favorite cuisines, my most requested meal away from home. These pitas made me think more of Gyros than Indian food.
But quick, simple and uncomplicated was in order for dinner, and once all the fixins’ were ready, we stuffed our pitas and then our mouths. I don’t know when I’ve seen a sandwich disappear so quickly. Mine was so full that the pita basically exploded.
Delicious? Absolutely. We both went back for seconds.
I have a confession to make; see those red onions above? Superbly sliced thin and perfect? The tomatoes, all in a row and the same size? The perfectly julienned spinach? Anyone notice the regimented slices of beets in my last post?
I did it all by hand; a bit scary, it’s so neat and perfect, huh? But here’s the deal; when I was in culinary school one of the coaches for our student competition team told me that I was a perfectionist and I got kind of ticked off. He said something to the extent of “Why would you get mad about it if it’s true?” Problem was, I didn’t know it was true and it irked me that he was pointing out a truth to me that I hadn’t realized. Once I accepted it, it made my life easier, and quite frankly, I was able to tone down a lot of that need for perfectionism after recognizing and acknowledging it. It makes it easier on my psyche for accepting the inevitable errors and mistakes, whether in the kitchen or elsewhere in my life.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to WOW the masses with my ‘human mandoline’ skills when I can. If you like how I can slice that onion, you should see what I can do, by hand, to a clove of garlic.
Indian Spiced Chicken Pitas
Eating Well magazine, June 2009
1# chicken breasts
2 T. garam masala
1/4 c. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Toppings for pitas: sliced tomato, sliced red onion, shredded romaine or spinach
Blend garam masala and oil and brush on chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and refrigerate for about an hour. Prepare to liking either on your grill, stovetop or oven method.
Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni
1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 medium tomato
1 green chili, optional
1 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. sour cream
1 t. roasted and ground cumin seeds
2-3 T. finely minced cilantro or mint (both together is divine)
1/2 t. kosher salt
Blend yogurt and sour cream with a whisk. Stir in chopped cucumber, chili, tomato and seasonings and stir to blend. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Stuff pitas with chicken and toppings, serve dressed with raita.
I added some finely minced green onion to the raita and about a teaspoon of garam masala. We did not have sour cream on hand. The raita would have been slightly more tangy and sour with it, but it tastes just fine without it too. Sahni’s recipe calls for removing the pulp from the tomato but I left it in. It also calls for grating both the cuke and tomato. That would be entirely up to you. I like a chunky raita so I chopped them. I do, however, highly suggest fresh cumin seeds- really for everything- because the flavor is much more pronounced and brighter than pre-ground cumin. You would need a dedicated spice grinder or a mortar and pestle for them. Both work well.