ASPARAGUS WITH GUNPOWDER MASALA

Impossible to ignore the Indian vibes in our kitchen lately. Of all cuisines, I believe that is the one bringing the most out of veggies. This recipe will blow your mind, and I am certain of it. The gunpowder masala is nutty, with the perfect level of heat and complex mixture of flavors. As my friend Joanne said in her blog post, it will be good on pretty much anything. I urge you to make it, even if finding curry leaves could be a bit tricky.

BLISTERED ASPARAGUS WITH GUNPOWDER MASALA
(from Joanne’s blog Eats well with Others)

for the Masala:
100 g raw cashews
35 g raw pepitas
30 g dried red chilies de arbol (or to taste)
20-25 fresh curry leaves (I used 10 dried leaves)
2 tbsp white or black sesame seeds (I used a mixture)
½ tsp asafetida

for the asparagus:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
sea salt flakes
1-2 tbsp gunpowder masala (or to taste)

Make the masala: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the cashews, pepitas, dried chilies, curry leaves, and sesame seeds. Toast them, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are starting to brown. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Once cool, grind in a food processor or blender along with the asafetida to a coarse powder. Pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Make the asparagus: Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. In a large bowl or on a sheet pan, toss the asparagus with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, until blistered on at least 2 sides. Transfer the cooked asparagus to a serving platter. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lime juice. Sprinkle with the salt flakes and gunpowder masala. Serve immediately, and swoon!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The other day I was part of a conversation about food blogging and how tiring it is the over-use of certain adjectives to describe a dish. Life-changing, fantastic, mind-blowing (guilty as charged)… So let’s stop going there. This is a great masala that I can see being paired with many veggies and even animal protein. I envision a beautiful piece of salmon, grilled to perfection and topped with this crunchy concoction, with a nice squeeze of lemon juice. It does need a bit of moisture to shine, so that final drizzle of oil and citric juice is a must.

If you cannot find curry leaves, I’d say make it without. It does have enough going on, and it will still be mighty tasty. The recipe makes more than you’ll need, so keep it in the fridge and find new uses for it. Just yesterday I paired it with sweet potatoes and garbanzo beans, drizzled with a tahini-yogurt sauce.

Joanne, thank you for yet another perfect recipe that will go into our regular rotation for sure!

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CLAY POT MASALA CHICKEN THIGHS

No clay pot? No problem, the recipe works in a regular oven, so stick around. We loved the flavors so much I’ve used this marinade in whole chicken, and also Cornish hens. The unusual twist is the incorporation of ground almonds in the mix. If you are intrigued, I totally understand because I was also. It adds a little texture and more “staying power” on the meat. I hope you’ll try it, I think it might become a favorite in your home.

CLAY POT MASALA CHICKEN THIGHS
(adapted from Made in India)

6 chicken thighs, bone-in, with skin
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
5 cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
¼ cup ground almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 + 1/2 teaspoons salt

Put the cumin seeds and coriander seeds into a dry non-stick frying pan over high heat until they get fragrant, don’t let them burn. Put the toasted seeds into a spice grinder, along with the cloves and peppercorns, and grind together. Put them into a big bowl and add the ground almonds, cinnamon, turmeric, yogurt, and salt. Rub this marinade all over the chicken thighs, making sure to stick some underneath the skin. Cover and let marinating int the fridge for 1 to 12 hours, the longer the better.

If cooking in a regular oven, heat it to 400F, place the chicken thighs in a baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and roast for 45 minutes, remove the foil and roast until the skin is golden brosn.

If using the clay pot, soak it in cold water for a couple of hours. Drain the water, place the chicken pieces inside, close the lid and place the pot in a cold oven, turn it to 450F. Cook for 1 hour, remove the lid and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the skin is nicely brown.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You can use almonds that you grind yourself, but I opted for almond meal, as I always have it around due to my macaron-baking addiction. It gives a subtle nutty flavor the the meat, and definitely allows the marinade to speak louder in the final dish. Originally I saw this marinade used in a whole chicken. The recipe called for cutting some slits on the skin over the breast to rub the marinade underneath. However, during roasting the skin teared apart too much and although it was still delicious, I did not care for the way it looked. So I will stick to using it for chicken thighs. Full disclosure: I already made it three times…

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