I had the opportunity to review one more cookbook before the year ends. I am so glad it was an Indian cookbook. I have long been enamored of that cuisine, but I have little, okay no practical experience cooking authentic Indian food. I do realize that with a country the size of a subcontinent, there are many, many variations on the Indian theme. This particular book contains cuisine from Eastern India.
The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles is written by Rinku Bhattacharya who also writes the blog, Cooking in Westchester. Rinku now lives in the United States and writes her book for those of us who are not familiar with cooking Indian. She gives plenty of substitutions for those of us without a close-by Indian market. I appreciate that most of her dishes use easily accessible foods and kitchen utensils.
The cookbook uses the Bengali Five Spice Blend which consists of Mustard, Nigella, Fenugreek, Fennel and Cumin seeds. The author used each of those seeds to divide the book into five sections. Within those sections are chapters such as vegetarian entrees, meat dishes, chutneys, snacks, sweets, rice, lentils and so forth. The Bengali foods contain lentils, coconut, rice, cardamom, ginger and lots and lots of chiles. Much of the food in this book is H.O.T. Hot!
I chose to make two dishes from this cookbook. As always, I adapted it to fit my family’s taste and pantry. I marked a lot of dishes in the book, but I was most anxious to make Honey Ginger Chile Chicken with Yellow Rice. The chicken marinates in a soy/ginger/vinegar/chile sauce and then is cooked up with onions and finally gets a drizzle of honey. The rice is colored with tumeric and spiced with bay and star anise. I made it in my electric pressure cooker and used aborio rice for ease. Next time, I will add 2-3 more onions to the chicken. I used more chicken than the recipe called for and there was not enough sauce. I look forward to trying many other dishes in the cookbook like Festive Rice, Spring Onion Pilaf, Mashed Seasoned Butternut Squash, Creamy Shrimp Curry, Curried Turkey Meatballs, and Roasted Pork with Potatoes and Onions.
- 2 pounds chicken cut into 2-3 inch chunks
- 1½ Tbsp ginger paste
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 small can chopped green chiles
- ⅓ cup soy sauce (I used gluten free)
- 3 Tbsp pomegranate red wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup oil
- 2 medium onions, sliced and separated
- 4 Tbsp honey
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 2 cups vanilla almond or coconut milk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp ground tumeric
- 1 whole star anise pod
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp onion powder
- salt to taste
- Place chicken in a glass or non-reactive pan.
- Combine ginger paste, garlic, green chiles, soy sauce and vinegar.
- Pour it over the chicken, turning it to coat both sides.
- Cover and place in the fridge to marinate 2+ hours.
- Heat oil in a large skillet (or two).
- Add chicken and onions, cooking over medium low heat, stirring often.
- When the chicken is fully cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the honey.
- Meanwhile, combine the broth and coconut/almond milk in a pan with anise, bay leaf, onion powder and tumeric.
- Bring to a boil.
- Add rice, reduce heat and cover.
- Simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is fully absorbed.
- Season with salt.
- Serve chicken over yellow rice.