Recipe: chicken tikka masala
It used to be that I would measure a mile by the number of times (four) around the track. Then it became segments of a route through a lush residential neighborhood during field hockey practice runs. When Jeremy and I met and began hiking and backpacking together, I loved to stand on a high point and look back at where we had started. A short six miles could wind up a valley, around a mountain, over a ridge, and climb to a pass. It’s one thing to read it on the topo map and understand this in a cerebral sense. It’s another thing entirely to behold the majesty of the landscape before you.
golden grasses and rocks mantle the peaks and ridges
We had not hiked Mount Audubon since my birthday almost four years ago. Back then, Kaweah was still strong enough to summit with us and I was unaware I had cancer. A lot can happen over the course of four years and yet the trail was as we remembered it, more or less. When we ski in the backcountry, we’re always looking up and around us. When we hike, we’re usually scanning the trail ahead. I remember that cairn, that split boulder, that bifurcation of the trail, that stream crossing, that trail junction. I know where to expect to see families of marmots, pika, and ptarmigans. I like to think of the mountain structures changing on their geologic time scales – that is, they seldom change in our lifetime – and the mountain environment changing with diurnal or seasonal cycles due to avalanche, rock slide, fire, rain, vegetation, freeze and thaw, wind.
this pika is harvesting plants for the long winter ahead
adolescent ptarmigan in hiding
another pika checking us out at 13,000 feet
jeremy on summit
New trails are exciting, but familiar trails are comforting for me. I suppose it’s like that for cooking or anything for that matter. As far as food goes, my usual progression is to like a dish that has been served to me and then crave it such that I want to learn to make it myself. Except with Indian food. I had this mental barrier. Despite most of the ingredients being things I’ve used or at least heard of, I just didn’t know where to begin. My good friend, Manisha, has been so patient with me. I ask her the same stupid questions over and over and she patiently replies over and over and yet I still didn’t have the guts to make my own Indian food… until last week. It’s such a westernized Indian dish, but it is a favorite to be sure. I had to make chicken tikka masala.
chicken, yogurt, lime, garlic, oil, and spices
mince the garlic, juice the lime, dice the chicken
Everyone says it’s easy to make. They’re right. It is. It’s just a pain to make it for the first time and shoot it too. I tripled the batch to make up for the time investment (hey, you can freeze it). First marinate the chicken in a mix of plain yogurt, lime juice, oil, garlic, and spices. The range was 1 hour to 24 hours. I like the idea of marinades, so I went for 24 hours. Booyah!
put it all in a bowl
mix well then refrigerate
When the chicken is ready, you can either bake it or grill it. I chose to grill it. Just skewer the cubes without packing them too tightly together (because you want the chicken to cook evenly) and grill or bake until they are cooked. Turn them over half-way through the cooking time. On our grill it took a total of seven minutes: four on one side and three after flipping the skewers. Lovely.
grill (or bake)
**Jump for more butter**