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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 chicken pitas 013Indian spiced chicken pitas 015

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.

Indian spiced chicken pitas 011Indian spiced chicken pitas 001

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.

indianpitacollage

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.

Cucumber Raita
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.

KATE’S NOTES:
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.

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Jambalaya

2 T. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bell peppers (1 green, 1 red), chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 links smoked sausage, diced
3 links andouille sausage, diced
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 ½ c. long grain rice
1 ½ c. tomato sauce, or puree
3 1/2 c. water
2 c. frozen whole kernel corn

Heat oil in large dutch oven or heavy pot with lid. Add the onions, and the green pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add in the red and jalapeno pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Reduce heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, brown the andouille and smoked sausage. Drain off any accumulated fat and add in chicken. Sear and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat. Meat can be slightly underdone at this point; it will cook further with the rice and vegetable mix. Add rice to pepper/onion mixture and stir to coat with oil. Cook, stirring frequently until rice browns slightly, about 5-7 minutes. Add in tomato product and stir to coat. Pour in water, corn and meats, stir to combine. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes, or until liquid is gone and rice is cooked

RECIPE NOTES: Feel free to sub any kind of sausage you wish; chorizo would be good in this. I used smoked turkey sausage, along with the andouille and it was very nice. I use uncooked andouille and removed the casings, browning and breaking the meat up in the skillet.

If shrimp is your thing, toss those in as well. Skip the corn if you don’t care for it, or add in some legumes if you want. A 15-oz can of black beans is a nice addition. They can be stirred in at the end and allowed to gently warm.

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