Sunday, July 5, 2020

Summer's Here.... Throw Some Shrimp In The Tandoor!

   I really thought I'd be back cooking before this, but finally I'm up to speed. 2 plus months getting over what appears to have been covid stopped my cooking and my writing. But now, with a clean bill of health and a LOT more energy I'm back at both.  We've been trying to get this pilot we're working on out of the house and turned in, and at the same time we've been in hunkering down phase, staying in and writing mostly. We have shouted conversations with the neighbors from safe social distancing, we take the dog out, we walk masked, we cycle masked and I am baking tremendous amounts of bread, having started by making my sourdough starter from wild yeast.
Aside from the baking, I've been  starting back cooking and one of the first things I had to do once we got rolling , was fire up my Tandoori Oven from  the folks at Homdoor.
Tandoori cooking is pretty straightforward and simple, after all it's grilling, one of the earliest and most universal forms of grilling. It seems that every country on the planet has some form of  tandoor oven. Tandoor cooking is found in India, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, the Balkans, the Middle East, Central Asia, Armenia, the Caucasus, Georgia, China, and Bangladesh. This style of cooking is also found in Europe, where the Romertopf clay cooking pots are a form of small tandoor oven.
One doesn't have to have an offical tandoor oven to cook tandoor style, but it helps. I've cooked tandoor dishes for years on a simple American charcoal BBQ, and I have baked tandoor style in my regular oven after lining it top and bottom with pizza stones, or plain unsealed clay pavers from the hardware store. I would crank my oven up to as high as it would go, and put the food in. Bingo, instant tandoor. However, having one in the backyard just like a regular grill makes things a lot simpler.
So for my first tandoor outing after being down for a couple of months, I chose something pretty simple. Tandoor Cauliflower, (aka Gobi) and Tandoor shrimp or prawns.
One of the reasons I decided to use the tandoor is I wanted something simple and easy to fix for a weekend lunch. Now usually tandoor cooking requires an overnight marinade. This tandoor used for fish and vegetables however does not, which I why I chose it. The recipe is simple and there are two steps. One involves grinding spices for a tandoor masala, and the other involves a paste. Both make up really quickly, and don't get scared of the number of spices used in the masala. Most are probably in your kitchen already and if they're not, just skip them.

Tandoor Cauliflower

Here's What You Need:


 Tandoori Masala

1/2 stick of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of cardamom seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger powder
1/2 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek)
1/2 tsp ajwain seeds (caraway)



1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic  or shallot paste
1/2 cup of yogurt
2 Tbs dry roasted (toasted) garbanzo flour
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs of the ground masala powder you just made
1 cauliflower

Here's What To Do:


grind all the spices for the tandoori masala together and set it aside for later.

Grind the ginger  and garlic/shallot into a paste. I combine them together as it's easier.

set it aside.
To toast the garbanzo flour, put it into a small pan and heat it until it starts to turn darker.

set it aside
Mix all the paste ingredients together.

Add in the tandoori masala and continue to blend.
Take your cauliflower and break it into florets.

Put the cauliflower florets into the masala mix you just blended.

Coat them well and  marinate them for 15 minutes. If you don't have a tandoor ,stick them on a skewer and you can then grill them at 428 degrees for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile onto prepping the shrimp

Tandoor Shrimp

Here's What You Need:

1 lb de-veined, de-shelled  uncooked shrimp
2 cups yogurt
2 Tbs garbanzo flour
2 tsp kashmiri chili
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
salt to taste

Here's What To Do:


Peel and de-vein the shrimp.

Mix the marinade ingredients together.

And set it aside.
Put the shrimp into the marinade and coat them well.

Marinate the shrimp for about 15 minutes.
Thread the shrimp onto skewers, if you don't have a tandoor grill put them on your regular grill for about 4-5 minutes, then turn them over and do the same with the other side. You can also bake/broil them in the oven.

Now for the tandoor part:

Thread the cauliflower and the shrimp on skewers.

So I fired up my tandoor and it was no problem getting it to 700 degrees.
The shrimp and cauliflower went into the tandoor on their skewers.

A few minutes of cooking, turning and eyeballing the skewers making sure everything was cooking correctly and not burning...

...and we were done!

We served them up sprinkled with cilantro right from the garden, and lemon wedges from our trees.

Serve these with basmati rice, pickled red onions or any other sides you desire.

I really love this tandoor, and I'll be showing more dishes you can make with it, especially looking forward to using it on some of my eggplants. It was the perfect getting back to cooking again meal, not too much work and very little clean up. Coming up next, some english desserts that you don't have to enter a bake off to taste.
Meanwhile follow along on Twitter @kathygori


Sunday, May 24, 2020

Where I've Been, AKA What a Long Strange Trip.....

   Well, the last time I posted here I was busily working my Homdoor Tandoor oven turning out naan bread with a lot of other dishes planned. That was the before picture.  A couple of days after I baked that delicious naan bread I got sick. It all started with a sore throat and quickly migrated to a cough, that was when I called my doctor, who checked with the Health Department and sent me to the hospital ER, masked, for a covid test.
   Alan dropped me at the emergency entrance (he was not allowed inside) and I was seen and questioned by an ER doctor who asked about fever, trouble breathing etc. I said I had no fever, no trouble breathing, in fact a couple of days before I got sick I did my 6 miles and felt great. For a few days however my stomach had been bothering me and I was having some trouble tasting things. Nobody asked me about any of that at the time, because those weren't things being asked back on March 9th.

   I was swabbed and tested negative for flu A and flu B, and finally for covid19. I was taken out masked through the ambulance bay so as not to come in contact with anyone. Alan was there to pick me up and they gave him a mask before letting me in the car to go home. I was told to isolate in a room until my test results came back. The results would be in in 2 to 3 days. I went home and immediately started isolating in the master bedroom, which has it's own bath so I would be out of everyones way. Fortunately we can do that. We have the room and the bathrooms. I grew up in a very small house with 3 generations. So we had 6 people and 1 bathroom, and nowhere to really be alone if one wanted to. It would be impossible to isolate as they wanted me to do back then.
   So I isolated, and the cough got worse, and pretty soon I was having chills and a low grade fever, and whatever it was had started going to town on my digestive tract. I communicated via Facetime, meals were delivered (not that I was eating much) with gloves and a mask and left in the upstairs hall outside the door. I'd open the door a crack, and take them in wearing a mask and gloves.
   Days passed, and I got more miserable. I was waking up in the middle of the night sweating, and I was sleeping most of the day.  I kept calling the hospital trying to find out my test results, and kept being told, they had no results yet. Finally, after 11 days in isolation, the hospital called at 9 o'clock on a Saturday night and told me I tested negative. Great I thought, but I still feel like hammered dog meat.  If this wasn't covid, what the heck was going on? I didn't leave my isolation room as I didn't want to get anyone sick, and I'm glad I didn't.
   Three days later the hospital called again, a cheerful voice told me I was negative. I said you guys already called me on Saturday and gave me this information. The voice said, "oh no, this is new information". Oooooohkaaaaay. I guess. This worried me, I was also worried as I wasn't getting any better and my gut issues were getting worse. Over the next two weeks the hospital called me twice more, both times giving me the good news I was negative and insisting this was all new information.
   A friend of mine who's a doctor said...hmmmmmmmm that sounds very weird, and not correct. Meanwhile, I was still in the bedoom, as I felt so sick and wasn't capable of going anywhere anyway. Every few days toward the end of this, I'd feel slightly better, I'd get out of bed, walk around the room, make a phone call. I thought. I'm done with this. Them the fever would come back and I'd be back in bed for another three days. My Internist tried different things to get to the bottom of what was wrong but nothing worked. One day when things were really bad, I called and got another doctor I'd not met before who did a telemedicine visit and prescribed a Z pack. Three hours after taking the Z pack I was sicker than before and the next day my own doctor sent me to a GI specialist.
   Around that time I was texting with some people I know through cancerworld who described similar symptoms to mine. Like exactly the same problems. One person lived in Wa  state and had not been tested but described being sick for close to 2 months. We then had a doctor join us on line and tell us about a percentage of covid19 cases, that instead of going to the lungs and causing pneumonia, went instead to the gut and did their own nasty  thing there. The doctor sent us a 23 page  study from the American journal of gastroenterology where they were describing covid19 in the gut. It sounded like a match. He'd explained that the false negative results from the testing being done was about 30%, and the swabbing of the nose, didn't often pick up stuff going on in the gut.  That required another type of test that none of us had had. So we were left with the knowledge that we might have had covid19 in a place where a lot of people weren't exactly looking at the time.

   We know now that it's a nasty bug that can attack a lot of different places. Gradually after about 8 weeks, the cough was gone, the fevers were gone,  but I was still  left with gut trouble. I had also dropped a lot of weight from not being able to eat. I don't weigh that much to begin with so that wasn't great. The GI guy wanted to do an upper endoscopy to see what was going off to the  outpatient surgical center I went. They did a great job at the hospital, everything was done carefully, no touching doors, elevators etc. I felt very secure having the procedure done.Turns out I had a great deal of inflammation, likely a result of whatever I had had. I am on my last week of medication, which has settled everything down. I'm back working out again, and I took my bike out for the first time (masked) yesterday.
   I was also advised to get an antibody test when a good one is available. Did I have covid?     
Some of those who treated me think maybe yes I did. From what I've read since, it would not surprise me, as I was as sick as I'd ever been. Officially, I don't really know. I do know I was sick, sick, sick for about 8 weeks. I felt worse than I ever had when I was having chemo, so there's that.  And then there's the mysterious other places covid goes, and the mystery of the continuing calls from the hospital every few days, telling me the "new information" that I was Negative!!!! Huzzah!
   Either way, I am better now. Every day I'm stronger, and there are no more relapses.  I am starting to cook again. Alan learned to cook through reading my blog recipes, and chatting with me on Facetime. He's learned well. The dog was staring at me as if he'd never seen me before when I finally emerged from the room, but a few treats in the right direction and we're all good now. I'm back at work writing with Alan, baking  a freaking ton of bread like everyone else...

...and getting out in the neighborhood, walking over to the neighboring farm and  visiting the critters.

So take care, I'm going to be firing up the Tandoor soon and doing a lot of shelf stable cooking!
 Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Saturday, March 7, 2020

A Home Baked Naan Recipe, As I Have Fun With The Homdoor Tandoor Oven

   I've been cooking Indian food for 30 years. I started eating Indian food when i was diagnosed with cancer back in 1990. I was a vegetarian and having problems with the combination of chemo and a macrobiotic diet, so my oncologist suggested I try cooking Indian food since I could have all the vegetarian/vegan dishes I wanted and still get plenty of nourishment.  So my sister in law the Indologist, who's lived and worked in India for many years, came out from NY and got me started with books. After that I began to haunt the Baharat Baazar. aka now called  Samosa House in Culver City.

When I used to go there it was a tiny place jammed with everything I could possibly want.

   Founded in 1979, it was the first ethnic Indian grocery in southern California. It was also located next to a coffin store, and the owner would lean in the doorway and when I went shopping for Indian groceries he would try to get me to come in and check out the latest casket models. Evidently, the passersby had the same reaction I did, as the coffin store is gone and Baharat Baazar/ Samosa House now occupies most of the block. In fact, it's now one of the largest Indian markets in Southern California, and boy , do I miss it.  Every time I'm in LA for business I always shop and carry back a bunch of hard to find goods. If you're in LA or planning on visiting... check it out.

   Phulan Chander who started with store with her husband Ramesh, guided me in my Indian shopping and cooking. She offered tips and suggestions, and recipes when she saw that I was serious about learning traditional Indian vegetarian cuisine and not just some daffy Westside white girl trying to have an adventure. If it weren't for them I wouldn't have learned as much. She gave me the confidence to try dishes, foods and techniques I'd never had before. The one thing I never had however was a for real tandoor oven.
   When the folks at Homdoor Tandoor Ovens  asked me if I'd like one of their ovens to work with I said you betcha!!! The Tandoor oven arrived in a big packing case with all the required implements. It moved into the garden near my vegetable beds and hibernated in it's canvas cover.

Finally after a cold and rainy Sonoma winter, I was able to fire it up last weekend and for the first time after baking naan bread for several decades I was able to actually slap it against the wall of a genuine tandoor oven.

So here's what happened, and how to make great Naan Bread, with a very simple recipe.

Indian Naan Bread

Here's What You Need:

1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 tsps active dry yeast
3 and 1/2 cups of flour, plus a bit extra for the rolling out process.
2 tsps salt
1 cup of full fat plain yogurt
melted ghee and nigella seeds for seasoning

Here's What To Do:

Mix the water and sugar in a small  measuring cup.
Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

While that is happening, combine the flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Attach the dough hook.

Okay, this is the miracle for me. For years I thought stand mixers were just bougie and why not  just knead stuff manually. After all that's why we have arms right?  Then Alan bought me a stand mixer as a gift. I had already said that I thought it wasn't necessary and then I tried it!! Omg!! Who cares if I never go to the gun show, nobody looks at my biceps anyway. I loved it!
Add the yeast mixture and the yogurt to the flour mixture.

Mix the dough on medium speed until it comes together, then increase the speed and let it knead for about 10 minutes all in.

Take a small amount of vegetable oil and oil the inside of a large bowl.

I used about a cap full and then just smeared it around the inside.

When the dough is done. It will be somewhat sticky (actually that's an understatement) but this a yogurt based dough. The yogurt is what gives the naan bread it's tang and keeps it from tasting like pizza dough.

So form the dough into a ball...

...and place it in the oiled bowl.
Cover it with a clean dish towel .

Let it rise until it's doubled in size. This takes about 1 hour.

We took the opportunity to take Tyrion the Siberian Husky out for a long walk.
When your dough has risen, flatten it into a disc and divide it into 8 pieces.

Set them on a baking sheet...

...and cover them again to rest while you go light your tandoor oven.

The Homdoor Tandoor I have can be lit either with charcoal or propane. Since Sonoma county is fire central, charcoal wasn't going to be happening. We used the propane option. The burner is lit at the bottom of the oven and the heat is controlled by a grate at the bottom and opening and closing the lid on the top. We used a laser thermometer to give is a reading on the clay interior. The oven had to get to 550 , which it did really fast.

Now To Bake:


I flattened each ball with my hands and stretched the top into a traditional naan teardrop shape.
When the oven reached 550 we were good to go.
The dough was placed on a Gaddi pad  which functions sort of like a baseball mitt.

The dough is draped on top of the pad. The Gaddi pad is believe me the only way you want to get near an oven that hot. I checked my temperature with the laser thermometer.

The dough is then slapped on the oven wall where it will stick and cook.

The dough cooks fast.
When it starts to bubble and char, it's ready.

Using the bread tools, which are a long rod with a small spatula at the end and a bread hook remove the naan by hooking and prying it gently off the oven wall.

Got it!

Place the  naan in a basket to keep warm...

...brush it with ghee...

...and a sprinkling of nigella seeds.

And serve it up.

Getting this Naan bread fresh and hot out of the tandoor I realized what I'd been missing all those years of just using an oven set at 550 degrees and a pizza stone. There's no comparison.
I'm going to be posting tandoor recipes on the blog once a month as I explore the world of authentic tandoor cooking which thanks to the Homdoor residential tandoor oven can be found right in your very own back yard.
Coming up next another fish curry this time, not a dry curry, but a wet curry and yes there's a difference.  Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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