Leftover night: Chicken and spinach sorta-Madras, and jazzed-up okra

Tonight's plate of food, with curries and brown rice

Again, I am not a photographer. *shakes head*

I’m eating alone again tonight, and resisted the lure just to pull something that looked mostly edible out of the freezer.  (That way, I end up having leftover lentil soup over a baked potato, on a good night.) When I’m not cooking for somebody else too, I tend to forget to eat until late, and by then I’m so hungry I’ll grab just about anything. The food blogging encouraged me to make something decent. 🙂

There are leftovers in there that need used up, and the mention of  bhindi bhaji in last night’s post got me thinking. We also had a jar of curry paste I picked up to try, so I settled on some chicken curry with the leftover spinach thrown in , Indian-spiced leftover stewed okra, brown Basmati rice, and some easy cucumber raita to balance things out.

Brown Basmati in the oven

First dish to get started: the rice. I was so glad to find this recipe for brown rice baked in the oven. It really does come out perfect, once you get the ratios right. With the brown Basmati I’ve been using (both delicious and low glycemic for rice, and less chewy than a lot of other brown rices), I prefer to use about 2.25 parts water to one part rice, by volume, plus a little salt and butter. Just put the rice and any seasonings in an ovenproof dish, pour on boiling water, cover it up, and bake it at 350F / 180C for an hour. Then let it sit and steam itself for 10-15 minutes, and you’re good to go!

Using a covered glass casserole dish, I also put a piece of foil under the lid for a better evaporation seal. Another tip I picked up from Just Hungry works well here, too: when you’re letting the rice sit after it finishes cooking, take the lid off and cover the pan with a dish towel. It lets just enough of the steam out, and I do that whenever I cook rice now.

Chicken and spinach sorta-Madras

  • 2 tbsp. oil (I used sunflower for both dishes)
  • Medium onion, chopped
  • About a tablespoon each of ginger and garlic, minced (you could use paste from a jar, or frozen)
  • About 8 oz. (250g) boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder, 1/2 a green pepper in bite-sized chunks
  • 2 tbsp. Patak’s Madras curry paste
  • Half a 14 oz. (400g) can of chopped tomatoes
  • About half a cup (125mL) of water
  • Salt to taste
  • Cooked, frozen, or fresh spinach, to taste (I used about a cup of leftover cooked)

Fry the onion in a deep skillet with a lid, over medium heat, until it starts to brown. Stir in the ginger and garlic, and let it cook a minute or so. Add the chicken, and turn up the heat if you need to so it will brown without releasing a lot of liquid into the pan. Add the optional turmeric and green pepper. Stir in the curry paste, and stir frequently while it fries for a couple of minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and water. Stir well, cover, and let it simmer for 30 minutes or so with occasional stirring, until the chicken is tender and the sauce has thickened up nicely. Add the spinach and let it either heat up or cook for a few minutes.

The verdict on the curry paste? Better than I expected, very much like a decent takeout dish.  (Not surprising, really, with about 75% of them in the UK apparently using Patak’s products!) Unlike some (gosh, here are two more “cook your own takeaway curry” sites), I’m usually not trying for that style, though.

The vinegar taste was a little unexpected, but not unpleasant. I used a similar amount in the dish to what the jar called for, and I would only rate the results “hot” by a British definition–not surprising, really. 😉 It wasn’t hot enough to need the yogurt to cool it off. YMMV, of course.

Timing tips: While the curry is simmering, chop and salt the cucumber for the raita. And once the rice comes out of the oven, start the okra.

Jazzed-up stewed okra

  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp. black mustard seed
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • About 2 tsp. each minced/crushed garlic and ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. Indian chili powder or cayenne
  • About 2 c. (500mL) leftover stewed okra
  • Optional: A squeeze of lemon

This looks more complicated than it is, from the list of ingredients. What you want to do is fry up some spices, then throw in the okra and heat it up. Over medium heat, frizzle the cumin and mustard seeds (which won’t end up tasting like mustard, just sort of warm and savory). Put a lid on the pot, because the mustard pops like popcorn. When it’s finished popping, add the garlic and ginger and stir them around for a minute or so, then throw in the powdered spices for another minute. Add the leftover okra, and heat it up. Mine needed something, so I added a little lemon juice from a bottle.

Cucumber raita

A bowl of cucumber raita

I made it directly in a storage bowl, because I knew it was more than I could eat! Mmm, creamy goodness.

Chop some cucumber into small pieces, put it in a bowl, salt it, and let it sit for about 20 minutes before gently squeezing the pieces and draining off the excess liquid. (The salting and draining keeps the finished raita from getting watery.) Once they’re drained, add some yogurt and a little pan-toasted ground cumin or chopped mint, stir well, and let it sit at least 10 minutes for the flavors to blend.

Tonight, I used about a third of a medium-sized English cucumber (what I can get readily!), 1/2 tsp. salt, a cup of mixed plain yogurt and sour cream, and about 1/2 tsp. of dried mint. I like to use 10% fat Greek yogurt (the best I’ve found so far is the kilo buckets of Eridanous from Lidl–yum!), but didn’t have any, so approximated it with what we did have. It worked pretty well.

Not a bad supper, all in all, even if I did cook enough for at least two people after all.  I guess it’s leftover curry-made-of-leftovers for lunch tomorrow. 🙂

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