Monday, July 20, 2009

Coronado Concerts in the Park: A Passage to India

It's the peak of the summer in Coronado, with temperatures hovering in the 80s this past week and Orange Avenue gridlocked from the bridge to the Del. As expected, Spreckles Park was jam-packed for the most celebrated concert of the season - Rockola. Vintage guitars, vintage clothing, and three decades of rock, pop, and soul have earned Rockola eight San Diego Music awards.

John and I made a quick run to the park hours early to reserve our coveted spot under the now bare Jacaranda tree, with Sparks' mammoth canvas tarps, and our tables and chairs. Many locals, also in the know, did the same. You would never guess the music was still 7 hours away.

A large part of our group went sailing for the afternoon on Jada, a classic 63 foot, Philip Rhodes Yawl sailing vessel. It would have been a beautiful day for sailing, but we experienced some extraordinary entertainment earlier in the week. John treated me to a night at the theatre for Fiddler on the Roof, Topol's Farewell Tour, and I whipped out my Il Divo concert tickets for Saturday night! Both shows were powerful and amazing.

Here are the men of Il Divo, who put me in a trance for most of the evening...David, tenor (USA); Urs, tenor (Switzerland); Carlos, baritone (Spain), and Sebastien, pop singer (France)

Sorry, I had to brag!

Back to Challenge India. The steadfast chefs in the group chained dedicated themselves to their kitchens, ovens, and grills, in order to create generous servings of traditional Indian favorites to share with their fellow chefs and the ravenous boat people. Seriously, we love to cook. Some have difficulty understanding the pleasure we derive from cooking. Others get it.

While John added to the summer heat with some Indian spices, I repeatedly frustrated myself with my first Daring Kitchen - Daring Bakers' Challenge. In keeping with our culinary theme, I added a little Indian twist to the Daring Bakers' recipe and it was ultimately a success. Unfortunately, I am sworn to secrecy until the official reveal date on the 27th, so please come back and visit then!

The Shiva Nataraja graced our table as we embarked on our gourmandizing adventure. We received more than a few puzzled looks on our trek to the park, pulling our overstuffed wagon, with Lord Shiva firmly affixed thereto, and our copper chafing dish leaking the tantalizing aroma of garam masala. I know, we're a bit elaborate, with copper chafing dishes, bronze statues, and all (I even found a slinky, vibrant, Indian Summer-ish dress for the occasion), but Concerts in the Park are a huge part of our summer fun and frolic!

John's Chicken Tikka Masala, served over Basmati Rice

The chicken is first marinated overnight in Masala Marinade, then skewered and grilled

John also poured small glasses of Mango Lassi, a popular and traditional yogurt-based drink. There are many versions. John made some slight modifications to Andrea's recipe at Cooking Books, here, and then put the lassi in the ice cream maker to make it the consistency of frozen yogurt. By the time we were ready for a glass, it had thawed to a perfectly chilled and sippable smoothie.

Carmen was able to join us this week, but most of the summer will be dedicated to putting the finishing touches on her play, The Perfect Daisy. Carmen discovered two outstanding recipes on Food Network, courtesy of Guy Fieri: Taj Maholla! Chicken and Bollywood Basmati Rice. She lugged a huge pot of her Taj Maholla, which was more than enough to feed all 35 in our crowd! I even managed to abscond with a Tuperware full of leftovers. Thank you so much - both dishes were unbelievably sensational.!The addition of pomegranate seeds was brilliant and the basmati rice, studded with apricots, currants, and toasted almonds, was flavorful and scrumptious.

Guy's Big Bite episode also included a recipe for Lassi Come Home. Although Brad is enjoying John's virgin Mango Lassi in the photo below, he's acting like he has downed several shots of Guy's Lassi Come Home, made into an adult version with vodka and dark rum...

Kai's Naan was deliciously complemented by Dal and Raita

In addition our chefs' outstanding homemade dishes, we sampled several menu items from Monsoon, courtesy of Alec and Nina, as well as Royal India's Chicken Curry, courtesy of Bradley. Both restaurants are located in the San Diego Gaslamp District.

After savoring one of the most successful challenges of the concert season, we delighted in the music and danced a few songs.

Olivia persuaded daddy Kai to take her for a twirlWhile Max and mommy Hill hammed it up for the camera

When the sun sets at the end of the day, in India or in Coronado, this inspirational couple on the picnic blanket next to us reminded us what life is all about... I hope you dance

Chicken Tikka Masala
Slightly modified from Food & Wine

Masala Marinade

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper.


4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup blanched whole almonds
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
3 tablespoons garam masala
1 tablespoon smoke paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Two, 28-oz cans peeled tomatoes, finely chopped, juices reserved
Pinch of sugar
1 cup heavy cream

Using a sharp knife, make a few shallow slashes in each piece of chicken. Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat, and refrigerate overnight.

Prepare gas or charcoal grill. Remove the chicken from the marinade, cut into pieces, (approximately 1 inch wide and 2 inches long), and thread on skewers. Grill the chicken, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and golden brown. Remove from skewers and set aside.

In a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the almonds and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate and let cool completely. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garam masala, chile powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the cream and ground almonds and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes longer. Stir in the chicken; simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and serve with Basmati rice.


Tim said...

Yum, I'm always on the lookout for a good chicken tikka masala recipe! I like your idea of scattering it with pistachios.

Anita said...

This looks like a good chicken tikka masala recipe... must try it.

Kai said...

I have to say this was one of the tastiest challenges this year. Well picked.