Those candy buttons.
The little wax bottles filled with that eerily neon-colored liquid.
There's this feeling of elation and relief at being thrown back to what was, if memory serves you right, a simpler time. Remember when your biggest worry was who was going to be "it" in your neighborhood game of tag? Those were the days.
And also. Hope. Because hey. The stuff that made the "good ol' days" so. Well. Good. Can still be procured! Maybe this new generation stands a chance after all! I mean, if they can appreciate the beauty of root beer barrels and Mary Janes, then all can't be lost. Right?
Of course. There is also nostalgia. And a touch of sadness. Because this is not really present day, status quo kind of stuff. This is a blast from the past time warp. And you have this sinking feeling that it can't last forever. No. You are dreaming. You will wake up (next to a pile of candy wrappers. And with a mild case of indigestion.) and have to go back to a life filled the modern-day confections that. Honestly. Kind of pale in comparison.
I think that this is how Nigel Slater felt while writing Eating For England, the book we are reading this month for Cook the Books. In it, Slater revisits dishes from England's past. From his memory. From his childhood. He comments on how things were and how things have changed.
He describes at least twelve different types of biscuits. (Bourbons being, apparently, the best.)
Really. I've never seen someone get so worked up over biscuits.
In all, I would say that the book is a celebration of the English culinary history. The good. The bad. The ugly.
Which begs the question. Chicken tikka masala? Really?
Um. Yeah. Really.
Chicken tikka masala is actually the national dish of England. (According to Robin Cook, a former British Foreign Secretary). It is the number one dish ordered at restaurants there. And, to be fair, I understand why. It is Indian food for people who "don't like Indian food" (Mom? Dad? You reading this?). It is creamy. Spicy. Delicious. Globalized fusion food heaven.
How would Slater feel about this? I daresay he'd be pretty irritated at me. (What about Yorkshire puddings, he would say! Or treacle tarts! Couldn't you make one of those!)
Well. Like I said before. We can't hold onto the past forever. Especially not when the future tastes this good.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 4, adapted from Meeta over at What's For Lunch, Honey?
1 1/2 lb chicken thighs
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup half and half
2 cloves garlic
1 dried chili de arbol
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp butter
salt and pepper
Mix all of the ingredients for the marination in a large bowl. Thoroughly mix until the chicken is nicely coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
On the next day, heat your broiler to high. Place the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 10-15 minutes.
To prepare the gravy, heat a large skillet to medium and melt the butter (or ghee if you have it). Sauté the garlic and chopped chili until fragrant. Sprinkle the ground cumin, paprika powder and a pinch of salt. Sauté for a further minute or two until the mixture turns into a paste-like texture.
Pour in the canned tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the skillet to deglaze it and to release any bits stuck to the pan. Simmer uncovered for approx. 10-15 minutes on low heat until the sauces begins to thicken, then add the grilled chicken pieces and cream/milk. Simmer for a further 10 minutes, thickening the sauce further and to heat the chicken and cream through.
Serve sprinkled with fresh chopped cilantro and cardamom-infused rice.