Friday, May 28, 2010

Spinach Crusted Tandoori Chicken for Memorial Day

This is easily one of my favorite twists on tandoori chicken a little green than the red version. The marinade is one of the most beautiful spring-green colors. I have infused it with a unique combination of leafy greens, cilantro and green chiles. Here the raw onion is caramelized to make it more flavorful.

Grill this chicken on your Memorial Day weekend and impress your guests with delightful and unique flavors.

4 pounds (4 medium-large) chicken legs, skinned
1 ½ -inch thick slice of fresh ginger
6 large garlic cloves
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon turmeric
2½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup sliced onion
1 fresh hot green chile, stemmed and chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cups chopped fresh spinach with tender stems
1 cup chopped fresh Swiss chard with tender stems
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter for basting
Beautiful sprigs of watercress
Yellow pear and red tomatoes, sliced
1 lime or lemon cut into wedges

1. Rinse the chicken legs well, then pat dry. Score the meat by making shallow slits or slashes at intervals over the legs. Place in a large bowl.

2. Combine the ginger, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, turmeric, 2 tablespoons oil, and ¼ cup yogurt in a blender. Process until pureed and smooth. Transfer to a medium glass bowl. Whisk in the remaining ¾ cup yogurt. Pour the marinade over the chicken and rub into the flesh. Cover and set aside at cool room temperature for 1 hour, or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

3. Heat the remaining ½ tablespoon oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add the onion and sauté for 10 to 12 minutes, until it turns a rich brown. Add the chile, coriander, spinach and Swiss chard, stir 1 minute. Cover and cook until the greens are wilted, 4 minutes. Transfer to a blender. Add the salt and blend to a smooth puree. Pour the spinach mixture over the chicken. Rub the mixture into the flesh. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight. Turn the chicken pieces occasionally in the marinade.

4. Prepare a charcoal fire, letting the coals burn until they are covered with a gray ash and are medium-hot. Position the grill grate about 8 inches above the coals and lightly oil. Lay the chicken pieces on the hottest portion of the grill, cover, and let them cook about 12 minutes on one side, baste with butter if desired, then turn and finish on the other side until tender 10 to 12 minutes more.

5. Line a warm serving platter with sprigs of watercress and surround with thick slices of yellow and red tomatoes. Use tongs to transfer chicken to the platter and you’re ready to serve. Pass the lime wedges on the side for your guests to sprinkle on the chicken if needed. Serves 4

Friday, May 14, 2010

Appearing on TV ABC 7’s “The View From The Bay”

Please join me on TV ABC 7’s “The View From The Bay,” on Monday May 24th. I am going to cook Chicken Breasts in Korma Sauce, from my cookbook, "The Dance of Spices."

I would like to extend a special invitation to participate in live studio audience for FREE. Audience members have the chance to Meet Spencer Christian and Janelle Wang and see the behind the scenes of a live television broadcast. Tickets for the show are FREE but must be reserved in advance. Audience doors open at 2:15pm with a cut-off time of 2:30pm, the show is live from 3-4pm.
To reserve your seats please call the ticket request line at (415)-954-7733 or visit and click on “be in our audience” and fill out a ticket request form. Or click on the link below to go to online ticket request form. Simply fill out your information and press submit.
Please be sure to note under “comments” the name of the guest to be on the show if you are requesting a specific date to support someone.

During one of my book signings and presentations at William Sonoma, in San Francisco I prepared the chicken korma recipe it turned out to be a great hit.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Those Magnificent Marvelous Green Mangoes

I just got back from my travels to India. I was fortunate to be there during the mango season. I had the privilege of eating green mangoes straight from my mother’s organic garden. My mother had planted two three-year-old mango saplings when I was about the same age.

Now the mango trees are big and spreading, full of luscious bright fruits. Its changing foliage, mass of budding feathery blossoms and hanging fruits present a spectacular view. The cool trees are an abode for tropical parrots and parakeets. The full-grown mature tree produces 400-600 mangoes at a time. Green mangoes start to appear in early April on Indian subcontinent. Some branches were so heavy with fruits that they almost touched the ground. Every time I went shopping I would cut a green mango into slices and take it in ziplock bag, my valuable vitamin C in the sweltering tropical heat. There was something gratifying about cutting down a stalk of green mango and chopping the fruit into small pieces. During leisure I would dip the pieces in a mound of salt and enjoy.

In India the green mangoes are not only used in pickles but utilized like a vegetable as well. It is really white inside, appearing more like daikon, jicama, or green papaya than mango. Its juicy tart flavor is a natural bonus to an imaginative cook. India is the abode to hundreds of varieties of magnificent marvelous mangoes. There is a surprising selection of just green pickling mangoes that vary in tartness, shape and size—literally from, 1-inch to 12-inches in length.

The mango tree is very much a part of Indian customs. It has an honored place in cultural and religious observances. Its slender pointed leaves, the branches and blossoms are used for various purposes. The leaves are skillfully arranged to decorate the thresholds and doors during feasts and in marriage banquets. The farmers have a special place for the mango tree since it signifies richness. A special spot is reserved for the mango tree in the field, it provides shade and a place to relax. Some dip the flat mango pit in ghee (clarified butter) and honey before planting the seed so it grows into a healthy tree. The young growing plant is then anointed with milk so there is a harvest of sweet fruits.

The green mango is not only nutritious but is cultivated since ancient times for various medicinal properties found in the leaves and bark of the tree. The raw mango is a vital flavoring part and cooked like a vegetable in curries, stews and salads. It is used in making chutneys, pickles, preserves and sherbets. Sliced and sun-dried, it is ground into fine powder to make the mango powder. Both the dried slices and powder are used as souring agent in curries, meat dishes, soups, and in preparation of tangy spice blends.

Buy an actual ‘green’ mango in the following recipe. The fruit it is quiet hard and nearly impossible to puncture with a fingernail, available in Indian, specialty and some supermarkets. Usually they are placed separate from the ripe ones and labeled ‘green mango’. Your grocer can probably find a very green mango from his stock, if you ask.

Warm Garbanzo Beans and Green Mango Salad

Here, I have paired the green mango with bland garbanzo beans and contrasting sweet coconut. The result is—warm, inviting salad with a wonderful hint of tangy taste. Try this vegetarian spring salad for light lunch or as an appetizer for dinner. If you have leftover cooked chicken or lamb in your refrigerator, by all means use in this salad.

I make this salad so many times and forget to take a photo of the dish, I will take the picture next time and share it. In the meantime, enjoy the easy salad.

1 medium green mango, unpeeled

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

½ teaspoon brown or yellow mustard seeds

2 dried red chiles, such as cayennes or chiles de arbol, stemmed, and broken into rough pieces

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (freshly cooked or canned, drained)

2 tablespoons grated fresh or defrosted frozen coconut

½ teaspoon salt

1 small avocado

1. Wash and wipe the mango thoroughly. Peel the mango with a vegetable peeler. Using a hand grater (the fine holes of a hand grater result in a fine, fluffy texture) grate the mango, about half inch on all sides, then grate remaining fruit carefully, avoiding the large flat pit. Measure 1 cup and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds; immediately cover with a spatter screen, and cook until the seeds stop popping, about 30 seconds. Toss in the chiles. Cook few seconds until crisp and lightly browned in spots. Add the mango, garbanzo beans, coconut and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 5 to 6 minutes.

3. Mound the salad in the center of a decorative deep dish. Peel, pit, and dice avocado, and sprinkle over top of the salad and serve right away. Serves 4 to 6 as an accompaniment