Indian Food: Fast & Cheap!
Last night we had a friend over for dinner and I was in the mood for Indian…. Ordering out can be fun (and delicious), but also more expensive than we want to pay sometimes. So, last night I prepared a full Indian meal with some helpers from Trader Joes and Whole Foods. Not quite from scratch, as you’ll see, but still delicious and even somewhat healthy (I’m not saying very, just somewhat)!
I was in a hurry to get this meal ready last night, since I worked a little late and didn’t start prepping until 6:30 for a 7:15 meal–which doesn’t seem bad, but it definitely would have taken at least an hour without my shortcuts!
First of all, I did use fresh chicken (boneless, skinless breasts), green onions and cauliflower. I broke up the cauliflower, spritzed with a little oil, sprinkled with cumin and popped it in the oven at about 400 degrees to start roasting. Then, I diced up the chicken into about 1″ cubes and sauteed with some chopped green onion and a little olive oil.
Next I covered it with about half a jar of Tiger Tiger Bombay Simmer Sauce + 1 cup of water as the jar suggests (I think this cuts down on the heat). Then, I just let this baby simmer. Once it had thickened up a bit, I threw in the cauliflower that had been roasting. Let it simmer for another few minutes and it was ready to serve!
Next on the list were sides. Using a few pre-made dishes from Trader Joe’s, these were a cinch! The frozen rice mix (Trader Joe’s Fat Free, Vegetarian Biryani) includes red peppers and peas so while it’s mainly a carb dish, at least there’s a little color in there. It is a very quick fix: just melt a little butter in a saucepan, then heat the rice for 6-8 minutes till tender. The lentils (Trader Joe’s ‘Indian Fare’ Madras Lentils) were easy too: just dump them in a dish and microwave for about 3 minutes!
Our final side was the classic Indian naan bread that is used to sop up all the sauces that cover nearly every dish. Again, I used a pre-made frozen version from Trader Joe’s — pop it in the oven for 2 minutes at 400 degrees and done! Now, don’t get me wrong, I know this meal is fairly starchy and sauce-heavy… but it’s definitely not the sort of thing we eat every night and I’m of the mind that it’s still a little better for us simply because we didn’t spend the money on take-out! And, if you don’t know about Trader Joe’s, most of the stuff there is either organic or doesn’t use preservatives and/or chemical stuff so I feel a little better about eating it and feeding it to my husband and guest(s). All in all, it was a delicious meal! Paired with a light Reisling wine and a little Port for dessert. YUM. I’d say, overall, this meal cost us about $18 and it fed 4 (3 last night and I’m finishing it for lunch!) So that’s $4.50 per serving….Not a bad deal!
What’s your favorite “semi-homemade” dish(es) to fix for a group?