The Best Fajitas in Mumbai

Until a few months ago, I had never eaten Indian food. I mean the kind from India. I have eaten Native American food plenty of times—it’s built into the cuisine of my state and region. But the kind from India, I had avoided.

I avoided it first because I was told since childhood that I wouldn’t like it. “It’s got curry in it. You won’t like curry” they said “it smells”, they said…

And they were right. I didn’t like it. Of course I never actually tried it. But since I was told I wouldn’t like it, I didn’t. I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite authors…..It is from the book Illusions, by Richard Bach.

Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours

It resonates with me because it has so much basis in truth. Basically, it means that whatever your mindset is, is what happens. You create your own reality.

So I never ate Indian food. But I did eat some Thai food. Guess what a lot of Thai food has in it? Curry! And I liked it. I liked it a lot.

I finally decided to make some a few months ago. Start modestly, I thought. Start with Chicken Tikka Masala, since it isn’t really Indian. I mean, it’s all the Indian flavors, but it was born in England, so it must be pretty tame, right?

Wrong.

It wasn’t hot or too spicy. But here’s the thing about Indian food that I think is so off-putting for so many people.

It’s. Got. A LOT. Going. On.

Flavor overload. For someone who isn’t accustomed to so many layers of flavor, it can be really jarring. A big ol’ slap upside the head. For starts, there are cardamom, ginger, which stateside we are accustomed to mostly in desserts. Then there are more exotic spices, like turmeric and garam masala.

As my Tikka Masala was cooking, I thought—“Holy God, That stinks. Must. Not. Vomit.”

That is no lie.

When it was done cooking, I wanted to just toss it in the garbage. I really didn’t think I could do it. Taste it, I mean. But then I thought “if Andrew Zimmern can eat fetid meat and lutefiske, by God, I can taste the Chicken Tikka Masala”

Sweet Baby Jesus. It was amazing. My uber finicky 16 year old—you know, the one that only eats chicken nuggets and pizza—he ate two plates full of it.

But my hubs and my oldest child would not be taken in so easily. Nope. It stunk, and they had NONE of it. Whimps, I say! I would have to ease them into Indian food, obviously.

So, then I looked at some other Indian recipes, and when I saw butter chicken, I thought “this could be the one”. In fact, except for a couple of the spices, this could be Mexican food…I went about creating a recipe that I thought I could sneak onto their sensitive (read: finicky) palates.

 As I was cooking it, Reagan walks in, looks at the chicken browning in the pot….

 Reagan: ”Whatcha cookin?”

 Me:”Butter chicken.”

 Reagan: “Bueno…”

I know of course, that he had no idea what that was. But he heard butter, and he LIKES butter. And he heard chicken, and he LIKES chicken. SO, natch, Butter Chicken would be acceptable.

A few minutes later, with the peppers and onion added to the pot, and the rice simmering on the next pot over, my hubby walks up, peers in…

Hubby: “Hmmmm. Chicken fajitas?”

Me: “Sure…. Something like that.”

As my two boys, and Max’s friend Nathan, and I sat down to eat, Nathan says “Oh, Indian food…yumm”

Geez, Louise…..Thanks, for blowing my plan, Nate!!

Anywho…..they all enjoyed it. The cumin, peppers and tomato were a much more familiar smell when cooking, so they willingly tried what was for them a very exotic offering. And they liked it. It was close enough to fajitas, rice and tortillas that it wasn’t too scary, I guess. In fact, so as not to admit having eaten Indian food, Reagan dubbed the meal “Indian Fajitas”.

My husband finally got up the brass to try it late that night, after I was in bed, but he came to whisper in my ear that he tried it, and he liked it, and he ate all of it.

Victory. Was. Mine. 

Butter Chicken, Cilantro, Hot Sauce

Butter Chicken, Cilantro, Hot Sauce

Butter Chicken Serves 6-8

  • 2 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 2” chunks
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt (I use Fage)
  • 2 cups half and half (I use fat-free)
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes

 

For serving:

  • –Jasmine rice
  • –Naan flat breads
  • –chopped cilantro
  • –sriacha sauce

 

Heat oil and butter in a very large skillet (with lid), or a Dutch oven, over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally until browned on all sides. Add garlic, onion and peppers, and cook for 5 minutes more. Add all of the spices, and stir to combine. Allow to cook for 2 minutes. Add yogurt, lemon juice, half-and-half and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, while you start your rice cooking according to package directions. After 20 minutes, remove lid, and allow to simmer until sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. Serve with rice and warm na’an or pita. Chopped cilantro and sriacha sauce are also nice accompaniments.

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20 Comments on “The Best Fajitas in Mumbai”

  1. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez
    2014/05/08 at 5:17 pm #

    Did you ever use tea to make your rice? The various flavors of tea make interesting rice.

    • 2014/05/08 at 5:58 pm #

      No, but that does sound interesting

      • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez
        2014/05/08 at 6:35 pm #

        This is a recipe I came up with and it’s great as long as you pair it well.

        VARIATION FOR RICE

        Instead of plain water use an herbal tea such as chamomile or green tea. For example: The Steamed Rice Recipe calls for 3 ¾ Cups Water. Boil four cups of water and pour it into a 4 cup measure or large glass bowl. Drop in 4 tea bags to steep for at least 15 minutes and then remove the tea bags. When tea has cooled, use the same amount in place of plain water.

  2. 2014/05/08 at 5:18 pm #

    Craving some fajitas right now. Uhm!

  3. 2014/05/08 at 6:06 pm #

    Great story. Generally, if they don’t know what they’re eating, they’ll love it.

    AV

  4. 2014/05/08 at 6:15 pm #

    Like you, it took me a while to be willing to try Indian food. My sense of smell is really sensitive and I’ve had issues with curry (and I’m not a big fan of curry flavoring to begin with…lots of Asian cultures use it in their food, including the one I grew up in). Then I went back home to Chicago to visit my sister and they took me to Little India for dinner. I fell in love with Naan and Chicken Tikka Masala. I even enjoyed the awesome dessert, Gulab Jamun.

    But…I still haven’t managed to get my hubby to try it. So maybe I’ll try your recipe and see if I can win him over. :-)

    • 2014/05/08 at 6:17 pm #

      I want to try some Indian sweets. Many are very interesting looking

      • 2014/05/08 at 6:18 pm #

        You should! The ones I mentioned are basically like honey soaked doughnut holes…but warm…and tastier.

  5. 2014/05/08 at 6:40 pm #

    I’m passing this recipe to my daughter who taught me to eat Indian food. I’m the picky eater and she goes to a new ethnic restaurant each year on her birthday to try new things. She is so proud of herself for broadening my horizons and that I would try it and love it. I let her order for me because she know how to move me forward slowly. I raised a smart girl. Her brother is worse than me about trying new things. I love your stories with the recipes. :)

  6. Jueseppi B.
    2014/05/08 at 7:30 pm #

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat™.

  7. 2014/05/08 at 7:47 pm #

    Can’t go wrong with butter chicken, recipe looks good! Now to try some of the spicier ones, pork vindaloo

  8. 2014/05/09 at 1:58 am #

    I love indian food. My favourites are Tandoori Chicken with naan bread and butter chicken with naan bread. Here in Melbourne we have a very large Indian population which means we basically have an Indian restaurant on every street corner. It’s good to hear that you have discovered the delights of Indian food. You should try Indian Sweets. The little cakes are just as divine to the eye as they are to the taste buds. India loves bright colour and it shows in their foods. We bought some a couple of weeks back from an Indian Sweets store and they were little works of art. One was made to look like little red apples. If you ever make your way down to Melbourne we can take you to some incredible indian restaurants

  9. 2014/05/09 at 6:47 am #

    I’m so glad you’re finally embracing Indian flavors! Ironically, I find them very close to the flavors in Mexican food, especially the cumin, coriander, and cilantro. Great dish!!!

  10. Anonymous
    2014/05/09 at 7:48 am #

    garam masala? I understand this blend of spices is regionally different. Was there a particular brand or blend you used?

  11. 2014/05/10 at 10:26 am #

    That was hilarious. Mandy and I love Thai food, so when an indian place opened in Midland (not kidding) we decided to give it a shot…and whaddya know, we love indian too. If you are ever in Austin, look up the Clay Pit….very awesome indian food.

  12. 2014/05/13 at 12:02 am #

    This is hilarious! And an eye-opening post for me, at this point I have been eating Indian food for what feels likes forever lol. I am so glad they all liked it!

  13. 2014/05/29 at 2:11 pm #

    I’ve been discovering Indian food lately too! This looks AMAZING

  14. 2014/06/04 at 12:29 am #

    Firstly, thank you for stopping by my blog! And secondly, great post! I love what you did there! It’s actually pretty eye-opening to read about (not an Indian’s) perspective on Indian food, if they’re trying it for the first time. My Aunt (who’s not of Indian descent) says pretty much what you said…but her take is from the side of ‘Indian’s can’t eat subtly flavoured food because we’ve ruined our tastebuds with overload of flavours’ It’s all about training your palette, i guess :) Anyway…good post!

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