i went to my community garden to water my plants. my garlic chives are starting to bloom, filling my plot with a nice subtle fragrance. i noticed i seem to be the only gardener who has garlic chives in his/her plot. i also don't see anyone with striped mallows (end-of-life for these plants, most of which are withered and marked with leaf disease) nor monkshood (don't know if i'm going to get any flowers this year, the tips all seemed to be chewed off by something). still yet to bloom are the goldenrods: those i have to keep an eye on, snip off the flowers before they have a change to spread because they can get weedy.
from the garden i went directly to market basket to get some ingredients for dinner tonight. i've decided to make chicken tikka masala, something i've never made before. i researched a bunch of recipes beforehand, and determined that the easiest method was just to buy a jar of tikka masala marinade from the indian grocery store next to market basket. there was a sale on bone-in skin-on chicken thighs; although i only needed 2 lbs. the smallest package was 2.6 lbs. so that's what i ended up getting. i also got some healthy snacks: a box of whole wheat triscuits, a bag of baby carrots, a container of artichoke & olive humus.
after dropping off the supplies at home, i made my way to belmont, stopping by the cafe to pick up hailey and drive the car back to my parents' place.
my original plan was to do some yardwork, but there was no chance of time because i had to keep an eye on hailey, who was attacking the solar fountain, even putting a scratch on the glass surface with her teeth. i flipped the fountain device over a few times (no sun meant it'd stop running) but hailey was smart enough to flip it back over. finally i connected the hose to the sprinkler, hoping it'd enough of a distraction. it was for a short while, before she went back to the solar fountain, waiting for it to turn back on. the sprinkler had been left outside during the winter and the inner mechanism that used to make it move seemed to be broken so it was just stuck in a fixed position. i think if it moved around more it would be more fun for the dog, either get it fixed or get a new one.
do all dogs love sprinklers? because i did a search on amazon for sprinkler toys, and a lot of the customer videos were of their dogs happily jumping in the sprinklers.
i left by 3:30pm, leaving hailey in the house alone until my parents came home. i didn't want to leave too late and hit traffic. i returned the car and biked back home.
i went to the kitchen by 7pm to start making my chicken tikka masala. i was basically following this recipe from cafe delites with some modifications. when i said i never made chicken tikka masala before that's not entirely true; digging through my blog history, i found at least one instance more than a decade ago in 2009. before that, i vaguely remember julie making it at least once or twice, and i used her technique of skewering the chicken and broiling it in the oven. however, this time around i was making it entirely in a single pan for convenience.
i marinaded the chicken thighs in the yogurt and tikka masala sauce earlier in the afternoon before i left for belmont. the recipe called for boneless thighs but i was using whole thighs (6 large pieces, including bones and skin). that could've been a mistake because the marinade can't penetrate the whole thigh pieces and they'd also take longer to cook. but you work with what you have. i always seem to have that problem, i get boneless when i need whole, and whole when i need boneless. i could've also removed the bones, which i might do next time if i ended up getting whole pieces again.
there was so much marinade sauce that when i went to go brown the chicken pieces, the marinade along with the escaping chicken juices basically covered the bottom of the pan, so instead of browning i was just slow cooking everything in the marinade juices. it took a long time, at least 10 minutes per sides, for more than 40 minutes. the thighs weren't all that brown, and the skin had a tendency to stick to the pan. also most of the marinade seemed to have falled off by that point, made me wonder what was the point in creating all that thick yogurt tikka masala marinade. the chicken still had some rawness but i was hoping they'd cook completely once they were simmering in the curry.
there was a lot of marinade and juices left in the pan, so i poured them out, thinking i might add them back into the curry, but it seemed too oily, and much of that was still yogurt, so i was worried it'd make the curry too sour, so i ended up pouring it into a plastic yogurt container and tossing it in the trash.
i processed the onion-garlic-ginger earlier. i could've just chopped them, but running them through the processor was quicker and easier. i then sautÃ©ed the chopped ingredients, mixing it with some of the brown marinade bits still left in the pan. next i roasted the dry spice ingredients, but they were all in powder form, so they ended up just mixing with the sautÃ©ed onion-garlic-ginger. recipe called for ground coriander but i didn't have any but figured the fresh cilantro i'd add later would make up for it.
i then added the tomato puree and the salt. i could only find a large 28 oz. can of puree so i just used half the can, putting the rest away in the fridge. while the sauce was simmering and rendering, i tasted it, it was pretty good. sour, salt, and sweet. i couldn't taste any spiciness though despite adding the cayenne peppers. original recipe also called from some fresh hot peppers which i could've added (i had some hot garden peppers) but decided against it, tikka masala usually isn't hot (at least not the ones i've had), i'll do hot indian curry some other time.
by that point i also cooked up a cup of rice in the rice cooker (plus 1 cup of water). authenticity called for basmati, but all i had was some ancient generic long grain i had to use up.
once the puree had properly reduced, i added the half & half and brown sugar. original recipe called for heavy cream, and some other recipes used coconut milk; i went with half & half because it was lower in fat content plus i could use it for my coffees. i tasted the sauce again, even better than before, slightly sweeter because of the sugar, but the dairy really mellowed out the sauce yet adding another layer of complexity.
it's hard to photograph curry and make it look appetizing: it comes out looking like mush over rice. but the taste! the chicken also came out very moist and tender, fully cooked to my surprise as i was expecting some raw bits (maybe around the bones). because it was still on the bone, i had to eat the chicken with a fork and knife. the chopped cilantro is also essential.
i didn't eat until after 9pm, it took me 2 hours to cook this dish. if i were to ever cook this again, i would definitely try browning the chicken thighs a lot better, pouring out the juices if too much collected in the pan. i would also use boneless thighs, as they cook faster. i don't see the point of marinating because i didn't really get a sense that the flavor somehow infused into the chicken parts; they didn't taste bland, but they also didn't have too much flavor, must of the flavor coming from the curry sauce instead. i may go back to the oven broiling idea, even if it runs the risk of drying out the chicken.
i finished watching driven (2018), about the informant who set up the drug deal that brought down john delorean. jason sudeikis plays jim hoffman the informant, and usually i find sudeikis insufferable (how did he even get famous? and married to olivia wilde?), but in this film he was amicably charming. lee pace as delorean seems like perfect casting. but in my mind judy greer is the true star of the movie, shining in all her scenes, rocking sweet 70's fashion throughout (halter tops, high waisted bell bottoms, tie front shirts).
rounding out the cast is corey stoll as the FBI handler and erin moriarty AKA the boys starlight as the drug dealer's girlfriend, who appears in a surprising topless scene. some historians and family members of delorean have cited accuracies, but i found the movie enjoyable, and made me want to know more about john delorean. i knew he created his eponymous car, and i remember seeing news of his arrest for cocaine distribution in the early 80's, but i didn't realize he also designed the GTO as well as a whole bunch of other cars for GM. i know there's a documentary coming out called framing john delorean with dramatic reenactments by alec baldwin as delorean. maybe it's worth checking out.