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Category Archives: Vegetable Side Dishes

Chicken with Indian Spices and Yogurt


There is nothing quite like Indian food to make the house smell like heaven. My kind of heaven, anyway. Tonight I made “Chicken with Indian Spices” from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, along with some Basmati rice and Indian-spiced acorn squash.  I will confess that I was put off by the fact the yogurt essentially curdled during cooking, and the sauce looked pretty awful when it was done; I put it in the blender to smooth it out, and it was much pleasanter to look at. I also found that the bone-in chicken pieces (particularly the white meant) were still a bit on the chewy side, possibly because of their size. They were also difficult to eat – I didn’t want to eat the skin, and needed to get the meat off the bone, and in the process of meeting those goals I lost a lot of precious sauce. (The sauce was GREAT, and i would eat it by the spoonful). Next time,  I think I’ll use cubes of boneless thigh or breast meat in place of the whole, bone-in chicken parts, and shorten the cooking time accordingly.

I invented the squash preparation. I have no idea whether squash is part of the cuisine of any part of India (and I am too tired to Google it at the moment) but it went beautifully with the rice and chicken.

Chicken with Indian Spices and Yogurt

(From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)

4 Tablespoons peanut, canola or other oil

About 1 cup flour for dredging

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 whole (3-4 pound chicken, cut up (legs cut in two) trimmed of excess fat, then rinsed and patted dry (or 3-4 pounds cubed boneless skinless breasts or thighs)

2 medium onions, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups plain yogurt

Minced cilantro leaves for garnish (I had these, but forgot about them)

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet, Dutch oven, or casserole. Put flour on a plate or in a shallow bowl and season it with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot (a pinch of flour will sizzle) dredge the chicken pieces in the flour and shake off any excess, (If using cubed chicken, you can easily do this in a zip-top plastic bag). Add chicken to oil, and brown on all sides. Regulate the heat so that the oil bubbles but is not so hot that it will burn the chicken. (you can skip this browning step if you like, and go directly to cooking the onions).
  2. When the chicken is nicely browned, remove it from the skillet and pour off all but a couple of tablespoons of oil. Turn heat to medium, and add thge onion along with some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until they soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger and spices along with an additional 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Cook with the onions, stirring, until vert aromatic, about 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in thge yogurt, then add the chicken pieces. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, turning the pieces every 5 minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. (If you use cubed chicken, stir every five minutes and start checking for done-ness at around 15 minutes).
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Garnish and serve. (If you find that your sauce has curdled, puree it to smootheness using a stand or immersion blender)

Squash with Indian Flair

1 acorn squash

2-3 Tablespoons butter

1-2 Tablespoons Garam Masala

  1. Cut squash in half and microwave about 10 minutes, or until flesh is tender when pierced with a fork.
  2. Cool squash and scoop out of shell, into medium saucepan.
  3. Add butter and Garam Masala to squash and mix with a fork until no large lumps remain. Heat over medium heat until butter melts and all ingredients are well combined. If you like, you may puree this before serving,

Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad

Last night when Rob grilled pork chops, I asked him to throw on three ears of corn so that I could make this salad today. It is, as Martha would say, “a good thing.” We ate it tonight as a side salad, but it would also be good as a dip with baked corn chips. I think it would also be great with some avocado in it.

Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad

(from the August 2001 issue of “Cooking Light”)

  1. 3 ears shucked corn
  2. 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  3. 1/3 cup minced red onion
  4. 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
  5. 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  6. 2 teaspoons sugar
  7. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  8. 2 teaspoons ground chili powder
  9. 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
  10. Lime wedges (optional)

Prepare grill.

Place corn on grill rack; grill 20 minutes, or until corn is lightly browned, turning every 5 minutes. Cool. Cut kernels from corn, place in a bowl. Add juice and remaining ingredients; stir gently. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired. Yield: 6 servings.

Zucchini My Husband Will Eat


We are not suffering from an abundance of zucchini. I can’t really garden here due to the unfortunate combination of a big house and a small lot (resulting in complete shade) and most of my friends are not gardeners with the exception of my 10-year-old friend Hannah, who grows and shares beautiful tomatoes and cucumbers. No zucchini, though.

Since I am not aggrieved by baskets-full of the stuff, I still love it, and buy it every week at the Farmer’s Market. Unfortunately, the boys do not love it, and would really rather not see it again. Last night, I discovered that although I had planned (and published) a menu of grilled pork, corn and melon, I had not, in fact bought any corn. I had bought melon, but it turned out to be a yucky, tasteless specimen – unusual in these parts at these time of year, but it happens. So, I made a big pot of rice and stared at my zucchini, hoping to be inspired. I had the zucchini, I always have olive oil, garlic and onions, and I had these tiny peppers from the local Hmong farmers:


The Kitchen Gods were with me, and I came up with something that was not only eaten, but eaten with gratitude and enjoyment rather than a strong sense of fulfilling a duty.

Zucchini My Husband Will Eat

  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 3 cloves garlic, smashed, diced, or some of each (I like to smash them because this recipe involves cooking them slowly so that they get very sweet and I loved finding chunks of the garlic in my zucchini, but dice is fine, too).
  3. 1 onion (I used a sweet one), diced
  4. 2 zucchini and/or other summer squash, cut into thin slices
  5. 6-10 tiny peppers, or 1-2 jalapenos, or whatever peppers you have, trimmed and diced (I made this dish very spicy; you might want to tailor the pepper level to your family’s fire tolerance).
  6. Edited to add: I have discovered, since publishing this recipe that some fresh or cooked corn, cut from the cob, is a fantastic addition to this dish.
  7. 1 tablespoon sugar
  8. Salt and Pepper

Heat the olive oil in a generous frying or sautee pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onions and peppers and cook slowly, careful not to burn garlic or brown anything, until vegetables are soft and onions are transparent. The garlic won’t get completely soft, but when the onions are soft and transparent, the garlic is ready.

Add the zucchini and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring constantly, until the zucchini softens and becomes more translucent. The onion may brown a bit here, but there should be enough moisture from the zucchini to keep anything from sticking or burning. If you see sticking or burning, you can add a little chicken broth, or water.

Taste a bit of zucchini. It will probably be quite spicy. Add about a tablespoon of sugar, and continue cooking; taste again. This produced, for me, a delightful kind of hot/sweet flavor that we loved. If you’ve added less pepper, add less sugar; the idea is just to transform the flavor from purely “hot” to a more complex, sweet-hot. Continue cooking until zucchini is all soft and you’re happy with the flavor. This is delicious over jasmine rice.