Day 1: The ultimate fusion food
Welcome to day 1 of The Inspiration Challenge – to share 30 Recipes in 30 Days.
So, I bet you’re thinking to yourself:
“Where the heck is she going to get all those recipes – unless she just copies and pastes them from the net.”
Well that’s what my dad said to me (in jest, thankfully!) when I came up with this notion. But no, that’s not my idea of inspiring people to cook.
The recipes I plan to post, including this one – have come from inspiration itself.
Funnily enough, I normally have a really, really bad memory – I have to think hard to remember the three things I was supposed to write on my shopping list. I even sometimes walk into rooms and forget why I went in there in the first place. You get the drift – I can be a bit distracted sometimes.
However, when it comes to food and cooking (and song lyrics, for some reason) – I can remember just about everything. So, if I watch an episode of Jamie at Home and I get inspired by all the amazing recipes he does with leeks – then I go to the shop, buy the ingredients that pop into my head and make something using the ideas I saw.
I guess because food just makes sense to me. It’s a no-brainer to me to put bacon with leek, because they are “friends” – I know that if you combine tomato and basil, it’s going to taste damn good. Most people know that pork and apples are a marriage made in heaven. I have countless other examples – but you get my drift.
The recipes I see made on TV or in my countless cook books inspire me. They also come from an amazing meal at a restaurant where I have thought to myself “wow, these flavours are amazing” – so I go home and I start playing with similar flavours or cooking techniques.
“Some people say a recipe should be followed to the letter – I say they are there to inspire us to cook our own creations.”
To me, this quote from Nigel Slater couldn’t be truer. I mean, don’t get my wrong, I’m not a chef, just a person who LOVES to cook – and so the dishes never turn out the same. They are always more rustic and have that homemade feel. But that’s because I’m not trying to re-create that exact dish – I’m trying to learn from them and explore the flavours.
Many will also be dishes my mum taught me growing up. These recipes have all evolved over the years – but they still bring back wonderful memories every time I cook them.
Anyway, enough story telling. Lets get stuck into the first recipe.
Day 1 – Tandoori Chicken Risotto – the ultimate fusion food.
This recipe was inspired by a visit to Geelong’s Carlton Hotel – the menu there is absolutely fantastic and all the dishes are so well executed. I love just about everything they serve because it’s good, honest, flavoursome food with great surroundings and no pretence.
During a dinner there a few years ago now – they had a Tandoori Lamb Risotto on the menu.
I have to say, I felt weird about it. It just didn’t seem right to change such an intrinsically Italian dish into India.
But I thought ‘what the heck’ and I ordered it.
Let me tell you this right now – fusion food can definitely work! It was like a mix between a risotto and a really wet biryani – which is sort of like the Indian’s version of fried rice. But it’s wetter, creamier and bursting with amazing flavours. This is my version – using chicken rather than lamb. As you will see, I use a jarred paste. I have made my own before and I honestly didn’t think it was worth all the effort.
Tandoori Chicken Risotto
- 500gm of chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm cubes
- 1 tablespoon of a good Tandoori paste (I like Sharwood)
- 1 tablespoon of natural yogurt
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 200gm of alborio rice
- 1 cup of field mushrooms, sliced (thin or thick, doesn’t really matter)
- 1 litre of chicken stock
- Half a red capsicum, sliced into chunks
- The juice of half a lemon
- Half a cup of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Mix the tandoori paste and yogurt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add a pinch or two of salt. Put the chopped up chicken in the mixture and stir thoroughly. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour, or overnight, if you have time.
Put the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil before turning right down.
Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick pan and cook the onion over a low heat, until it is beginning to soften.
Turn up the heat and add your chicken (and all the marinade). Cook for about five minutes, then add the alborio rice.
Stir so that all the grains are coated and really hot. This is the point when the stock ladelling begins.
Put one ladel full of stock in at a time and stir each until each has absorbed before adding the next. This will take about 20 minutes. Ensuring your stock is hot before adding it will quicken the process.
After about 10 minutes (so the rice should be half cooked) add the mushroom and capsicum.
The only way to tell that it’s ready it to taste it. Make sure the risotto is nice and lose and creamy – it shouldn’t be dry and stodgy.
Finish with the juice of half a lemon and a good handful of chopped, fresh coriander.
Serve with a good amount of natural yogurt on top.
Hope you enjoyed the first recipe in The Inspiration Challenge. One down, 29 more to go!
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