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Dinner and a Movie

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Taken on camel safari in Jaisalmer, India 

Want to impress a first come over to my house and I’ll cook you dinner date?  Need some time for yourself but still have to feed your family?  This recipe fits the bill.

So you’ve met a new someone special.  You’ve been out a few times, and now it’s time to save some money and enjoy some cozy couch time.  This is an Indian inspired dish, which takes care of half of the planning for you.  What to watch: how about a Bollywood movie?  Mood music: soft Indian classical music on the Pandora channel will set a romantic tone.  Candles and floor seating with pillows?  Yes please!Bollywood movies work just as well for a family movie night.  They’re all great for the family with fun musical numbers.  Also, the kids will love sitting on the floor.  Serving some spinach raita with the spicy chicken will get them to eat spinach without even trying.  They will have to to cool off from the spicy chicken and practically shove the spinach in their little mouths.
IMG_2792If you’re like me, I get very nervous before dates.  Very nervous.  Can hardly think straight.  If you are hosting, there are many, many, many things to do.

  1.  Clean house.
  2. Make amazing meal.
  3. Make self look amazing.

You may be thinking, “But Mandy, that’s only three things.”  Yes, but in those three things are many sub steps that could trip you up.  Why this really works and you should make this recipe or look for a similar one (remember this book is only one penny on Amazon!) is it begins the night before.  Or three hours before if you forget or don’t read the steps until a few hours before you are making your meal.

To begin the chicken, you mix a few spices and oil to make a paste, which you then rub on the chicken and put in the fridge.  To marinate in the spicy goodness and make your house smell lovely.  Then make the raita.  This was a very easy process, and was in the fridge and ready to go for later.  Now you can move onto more important things.

As in a select your adventure book, you either:

a) Commence in cleaning the house and making it spotless for your new love interest.  Go ahead, turn up the music and get to it.  The tunes will help and distract from feelings of nervousness.
b) Sit down and read a book.  It’s time for you, baby.  Put the kids down for a nap or shove them outside to commune with nature (safely in the backyard, of course).  It’s your time to finally find out what happens in that book that you haven’t had time to read.  Go ahead and make yourself a cup of chai to go with it.

Right before date time, make some basmati rice.  Heat up some naan in the oven (I’ve seen it at the Indian food store or my local Sprouts carries it as well-it shouldn’t be too hard to track down).  You are practically ready.

Kids driving you crazy with their hunger pleas?  Set them to make mango lassis.  Delicious and on point with the theme of the night.

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The Jodhpur Lassi

There’s a knock at the door.  You welcome your date into your home.  You offer them a glass of Kingfisher beer or a nice champagne.  Fun fact: champagne or sparkling wines actually go great with spicy foods.  The sweetness of the wine offsets the spiciness of the dish.  And helllooooo romantic beverage.  You are going to have romance exuding from your pores.

Now is the point to impress: you’ve got a clean kitchen-all of the pre-cooking dishes are already cleaned and put away.  Now it’s just time to cook the chicken.  Heat up the skillet, cook the chicken which makes your house smell even more wonderful.  This dish is easy to plate in an aesthetically pleasing way: white rice next to beautiful chicken with a pop of green peas.  You pull the pre-dished raita from the fridge and pull the heated naan from the oven. Calmness and confidence exudes from you because this dish is incredibly delicious and does not have any places for you to actually make an error.  Trust me, I would have messed it up if I could!

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Three years ago I decided to start a blog. This blog, actually. I did all of the things you do when you start a blog, entered my email, uploaded a fantastic picture of myself, chose the color of the background, and then checked my email. Or went to work. Or read a book. I’m not sure. It was three years ago. As Sarah Koenig points out on Serial, it is very hard to remember exactly what you did a long time ago on a random day. I hope nobody accuses me of murder on the day three years ago when I created this blog, because I can’t remember what I did for the rest of the day

I do know either that day, the day before, or the day after, I made Indian Tacos. That was my planned first blog post. Luckily I did take pictures to prove it.

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Well this weekend I made them again. Which reminded me of my blog. I decided OK! It’s time to jump back in!   I have posted twice to get my feet wet, and now I have decided to do the long awaited Indian Tacos post. Luckily, we had theme dinner and a movie night this weekend, and so I have NEW pictures of slightly different tacos.

In Oklahoma, we look forward to the Great State Fair of Oklahoma every September. Many Oklahomans will agree that the best thing about the fair is the food. Cinnamon rolls, fried butter, fried Twinkies (I could honestly go on and on about the available fried food), turkey legs, funnel cakes, and more. The most famous of our state fair food is the Indian Taco. Get ready to wait in line, because they are delicious and you can’t go to the fair without having one.

What is an Indian Taco? Navajo fry bread topped with juicy beans, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Toppings vary, and just like Mexican tacos, these are the most common toppings. Navajo fry bread is a golden light puffy fried bread that is best when the juice from the beans seeps down and makes it more tender to eat. If your bread is hard at all, this is the fix to cover the most likely cause of over mixing the dough, which makes the bread on the heavy side.

We topped ours with green chilies and added Buffalo meat to the beans. If you haven’t had Buffalo meat, I highly suggest you do. It is lean and tasty.

Fixing these tacos is a great option if you are feeding a lot of people and are on a budget. The most expensive part was the buffalo meat, which cost us about $10 dollars. The meal is also quick. I love to bake, but I am not particularly fond of cooking because you have to do it EVERYDAY and there are SO MANY OTHER THINGS I could be doing. There are only a few ingredients to mix and it only takes about 30 seconds a side to achieve the finished golden brown loveliness. Then hold yourself back from eating each puffy bread pillow as it comes out of the oil.

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Luckily I was able to delegate the rest of the meal fixing to Ty, who cooked the meat, beans, and chopped the veg. This sounds like he did more, but since I could only cook one fry bread piece at a time we ended at almost exactly the same time. We heaped our tacos and watched Last of the Mohicans. A very nice evening.

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Taco Tip: Your Taco Should be 3D. Don’t skimp on anything.   It should be at least as high as two Harry Potter books. Hardcovers. And the later books, we’re talking HP and the Half Blood Prince, not the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Theme Movie Tip: If you decide to do this, a couple other movies you could choose are Dances with Wolves or Jeremiah Johnson.  Great Actor + Movie classic + Native theme=perfect movie for Indian Tacos theme night.

One Last Etymology Thing…Once I was describing these tacos to a Canadian friend.  Every time I said “Indian Tacos” he would kindly interject, “Native Tacos?” While making these this past weekend, I brought this up with Ty.  Is it un-PC?  Have I been terribly wrong in using the word indian?  While our friends to the North all use Native, here in OK everyone still refers to this dish as Indian tacos.  He made a great point in comparing ‘Indian’ to ‘Oriental.’  People are Asian, things are oriental.  In our area, people are Native while things can be indian.  So please, get some flour and try making these delicious Indian Tacos.

But if you are at a Pow-wow, don’t be the obvious tourist that asks for an Indian Taco.  Just ask for a taco.