Being a chef in New England is a blessing and a curse. All spring and summer, we are surrounded by the bounties of local farms, and for 6-7 months, we are in a vegetable paradise. As the cold creeps in, things get more and more sparse, until you find yourself in the dead of winter with no fresh local produce available. Fortunately, we have some great connections to specialty purveyors that can bring us the highest quality greenhouse-grown produce from all over New England. Things like peppers, tomatoes, even kale and cabbage- even though they are so much better picked fresh from the farm the day before, the quality of greenhouse produce these days is (almost) comparable to what we can get from local growers. Definitely better than commodity. That, with the use of great preserves and high quality seasonings and dried ingredients, makes it possible to create wonderful dinners year round. Tonight’s dinner is the perfect example of that- hearty and rich, but relying on the power of delicious veggies to pack the punch. You’ll see. Get in there!
For the tikka masala:
A delicious sauce, tender chunks of chicken, these things are great- but that’s not what makes it REALLY great. The trick? Heat. And caramelization. You want to fry this sauce. Getting it ripping hot blooms all the spices and turns the sauce from two to three dimensional. No microwaving this! To heat, get a high-sided nonstick pan or saucepot hot over high heat. Add enough oil or butter to coat, and scoop the tikka masala out of the container into the pan. As you scoop, stir so that the sauce fries and heats through as you add it. It should be bubbly and steaming hot. Once everything is in the pan, bring it to a simmer, and add a splash or two of water to bring it to the consistency that you like. You’ll thank me for this. Hot curry is the best kind of curry.
For the rice:
Honestly, microwave is the best way to go. But you can also heat it in a pan with a splash or two of water to fluff it up. Get it hot!
For the cabbage salad:
Dig right in!
For the naan:
Toast and slather up with garlic herb butter 🙂
If you ordered a steak salad:
Mix that dressing in, and prepare for satisfaction!