• erin

    Dumplings with my family
    A recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, I found myself with no money, no kitchen equipment, and an exceptionally huge appetite. Ideas, improvisations, and yummy meal solutions were discovered in the kitchen of my very first apartment.
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Butter Chicken with Cilantro-Garlic Naan

When I was a kid, my mom would occasionally take my brother and I to a restaurant called Valentino’s. It was a typical “Italian”-American buffet featuring plain pizzas, buttered pasta, a salad bar, and of course, the much necessary soft-serve, pudding, etc. at the end of the meal. It was a perfect kid-friendly restaurant, and one that my mom could also stand going to, so it was good when we were arguing where to go. My brother, Willie, five years my senior grew into teenage years and one day when my mother suggested Valentino’s, he announced that he no longer liked it.

I believe I audibly gasped. NOT LIKE VALENTINO’S? What was wrong with this boy? It seemed to me we had just been there recently, and how could he have possibly changed his mind so quickly? He told me, quite matter-of-factly that he had disliked it for awhile, but continued to go because the family liked it. He said his tastes were changing as he got older. Well, since it was not my mother’s favorite restaurant either, we quickly moved on to bigger, better, and theoretically tastier things.

A few years later, we were spending a lot of time in a neighboring city, which, among other things, was home to an excellent Indian restaurant. I tasted the food once and was not a fan. I would pout and roll my eyes when my mother and brother suggested we go to India Palace. But, being outnumbered, I often lost. I longed for the days of Valentino’s and my generic, bland buffet choices back.

Then, one day around the time I turned 13 or 14, some friends called to invite me to dinner. They were going to India Palace. Ugh. I went anyway, since I couldn’t pout or roll my eyes over the phone. At the dinner, my friends ordered and array of dishes, and I tried each one. The first thing I tasted was Butter Chicken, an Americanized creamy, mildly spicy chicken dish which was even more delicious when eaten with Naan, a fluffy flatbread. It became my food of choice when my mother and brother would suggest India Palace – an excellent beginner Indian food.

“How could you change your mind so quickly?” my brother teased.
“I guess my tastes are changing as I get older,” I said, and dipped my naan into my bowl, sopping up the delicious sauce.


Butter Chicken with Cilantro-Garlic Naan


Served 2.
Leftover Potential: Reheats very well. The naan never lasts in my house, but it would keep too if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and reheated in a saute pan. Made 2 meals after the initial dinner.


Butter Chicken
1 lb chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp ginger, minced
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oil


2 Tbsp oil
2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp Garam Masala
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp chili powder
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups peas
salt, as needed


1/4 cup cream
1 handful of cashews
cilantro, roughly chopped, to taste


1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, garlic, ginger, yogurt, chili powder, and oil. Toss well to coat completely. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and allow to marinate for 2-4 hours.
2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the spices and cook for a few seconds, until fragrant. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bell peppers and cook until beginning to soften. Season with chili powder.
3. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer until reduced slightly and the mixture is a little thicker, about 8-10 minutes. Add the peas and season with salt.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the marinated chicken onto a lightly greased baking sheet and roast in the oven until beginning to brown. Toss the chicken to turn and continue roasting until evenly browned and cooked through.
5. Add the warm chicken to the sauce and toss to coat. Finish the sauce with cream, cashews, cilantro, and any other additional seasonings as desired. Serve immediately with warm naan.


Cilantro-Garlic Naan
1 lb AP flour
pinch salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 package yeast
3/4 cup water, warm
1/3 cup yogurt
oil, for brushing
salt, as needed, for garnish


1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, garlic, cilantro, and yeast. Add the water and yogurt slowly and mix to combine.
2. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead by hand until smooth, about 3 minutes. Divide the dough into six equal pieces and roll out to a 1/4″ thick. Use flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.
3. Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Brush the rolled out dough with the olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and cook until browned lightly on each side, 1-2 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.

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4 Responses

  1. Looks great.

    You got me going on making naan, which we had last night, this time with cumin seeds in it. I made Fusion Fajitas, or Med-Mex-Indo-Thai: stir-fried meat and veg with chili-garlic sauce thrown in, wrapped in naan and served with lime wedges and tzatziki sauce.

    Now I have to try cilantro-garlic.

  2. […] it was constructed primarily from leftovers, but this would re-heat like a normal pizza. 1 recipe Naan 2 chicken breasts, roasted, diced 1/2 cup peanut sauce 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced 1 bunch […]

  3. What city/state is India Palace in?

  4. where are you from?

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