Curry nights are a rare treat in our home. Even though the actual cooking is not altogether that difficult, it almost doesn't seem right to not cook the whole shebang when it comes to curry dinners.
Following along the cookalong route, I have cooked up another chicken recipe from Nigella's At My Table column. And I was so tempted by the other recipes that accompanied this curry, I decided to cook up the entire menu. Nigella has a gift of putting together awesome menus; this is evident in her columns, How to Eat, and Feast. However, I tend to pick and choose because I don't entertain often, so most of the time it's just us, or even just me. But Wednesday night felt special in a way. It was the night before my last day of work. People leave their jobs all the time, and it really isn't a big deal, for the most part. But, it felt, and feels, a big deal to me... I have made a conscious decision to change my life. To make myself happy again. I have been in a rut for god knows how long, and I've finally woken up. Hurrah, Ilana!
So, back to dinner. The curry in question, Chicken and Apricot Masala, is not a standard curry. I think of curries as creamy and there was not a hit of cream nor coconut milk in this. I actually didn't know what to expect from the texture, as from the list of ingredients, it didn't look like much of a sauce at all. With the 'curry', I also made Nigella's Caramelized Onion and Lentil Pilaf. I've actually made this before, almost two summers ago. The dessert of the menu was Lemon and Lime Satin Creams. I could not get a link to this dessert to hyperlink ya, so I posted the recipe below.
Each element of the dinner was incredibly easy to make. Like anything involving curry, the ingredients list is long, but I find that I have these spices around anyway, so I hardly have to do any additional shopping.
I'll jump ahead and say the dinner was lovely!! But it was also surprising. Not knowing what to expect from the masala, I thought I'd end up with a tasteless and watery curry. Not the case at all! The curry came with a wonderfully aromatic and colorful sauce -- almost florescent orange -- and was the perfect consistency due to the apricot soaking liquid and the tomatoes and tomato paste. A note about the recipe above, though, is that the poster decided to omit the oil that is in the recipe. You do need oil for this recipe. It's a quarter cup (60ml) of peanut oil for 6 servings (that's 3 lbs of chicken thighs). I only used a pound of chicken, so used just over a tablespoon of oil. I also just noticed that the poster used 3 lbs. of chicken breast. The recipe does call for boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
With the recipe linked up above, there is no point in me talking about the method. I love curries, in that you're building flavors, a step at a time. I just love that kind of cooking. The curry also had hints of sweetness, but Nigella was correct in pointing out it doesn't overpower the dish. I don't usually do the whole fruit with savory type of thing, but this was lovely.
The pilaf was really easy to make as well. Since the onions are caramelized, and the lentils and rice cook in that, the dish really has a lot of depth. It was my first time using puy lentils. I haven't made up my mind about them yet; I think I've decided that I definitely don't hate them. (Apologies for the blurry picture.)
And lastly, the satin creams. Nigella has a way with words, and usually, I understand her. But I wasn't sure what satin creams really are. Is it a mousse? Is it a custard? I don't get it. The only things I have ever baked in a water bath were cheesecakes, so I kinda figured it would be like that. But, there was no cream cheese in the satin creams. So, again, I didn't know what to expect. I guess you could see at this point that I was cooking blindly. I don't often have this type of confidence in chefs. But, Nigella and I go a long way back. Haha, just kidding!
Well, the top texture was cheesecake definitely. The bottom was more of a gel/mousse consistency. I preferred the top, and I have to say, this is best eaten cold. Sorry, Nigella. She says room temperature, but I really like this kind of texture cold. Just my opinion. It had a glorious hit of lemon and lime, thanks to the 24 hr steeping time. I think if I made it again, I would cook it all the way through, so at least the whole thing would be like a cheesecake. :)
The cookies I served the creams with were also Nigella's -- her Edible Decorations from At My Table. These are the cookies Nigella uses to decorate her Christmas tree with, but I think, what a waste. Much better they are filling up me tummy. I omitted the pepper (similar recipe in Feast), but kept the other spices. A really lovely cookie you can't just eat one of. Mmmmm..
Lemon-Lime Satin Creams
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1. In a mixing bowl, combine lemon zest and juice, lime zest and juice,
sugar and eggs. Whisk until smooth. Add cream, whisk again, and
transfer to a large pitcher. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate
from 2 hours to 2 days, the longer the better to bring out fullest flavor.
2. When ready to bake, heat oven to 300 degrees. Heat a kettle of water
until just steaming; do not boil.
3. Place six 1-cup ramekins in a roasting pan and pour cream mixture
into them. Pour hot water into pan to come about halfway up sides of
ramekins. Bake until cream is just set, 30 to 35 minutes; it will still
wobble, but will firm as it cools.
4. Remove ramekins from water and allow to cool. Serve at room
temperature, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve with
shortbread or plain, crisp cookies.
Yield: 6 servings.