Saag-Khumbi-Tikka Masala Pizza and Curried-Lemony Cabbage Salad

I worked at an Indian restaurant called Shalimar for about six months…I’m not sure I ever made more than $25 a shift, but that didn’t matter, because, as part of the gig, I got to eat from the lunch buffet every day. I also dated the chef, Raju… a fascinating amalgamation of old and new. He pumped serious iron every morning, drove a black Escalade and wore a thick gold chain with an ‘om’ symbol hanging from it. I remember one night in particular… him taking me to the “Indian store”, buying us sugar cane juice and renting a non-sub-titled Bollywood movie. The juice was in a green can, sweet, and the movie was innocent, repressed, in a way that I liked. He had limited English proficiency, but we spoke the same language…the one comprised of  the gestures made in the kitchen and those made while eating everything with naan.  I still have the mix CD that he made for me…(think: Panjabi MC). It was the music of the kitchen, the beat of the tandoori oven, and I loved it.

This is what I love about food…it’s never just about the food…it’s about who made it, where it came from, where you ate, who you ate with. Food is a conduit….through which so many essential life elements flow, comingle, crash. Pulling my head out of kheer clouds, I decided  it was time for some Indian this week….and friends were coming over….the perfect opportunity.

So, I sauteed a couple massive portobello mushrooms in butter, added some coconut milk, red pepper flakes and curry powder, and blended in a paste of (CSA) kale, (CSA) chard, (CSA) onion and (CSA) garlic.

that's all of it in a pan together.

that’s all of it in a pan together.

I mixed the aforementioned combination with some diced chicken breast and a packaged tikka masala sauce (I cheated, it's true.)

I mixed the aforementioned combination with some diced chicken breast and a packaged tikka masala sauce (I cheated, it’s true) and spread it on a pre-made gf pizza crust (I cheated twice).

then I chopped (CSA) cabbage, (CSA) bell pepper and onion, and tossed them with lemon juice, cider vinegar, honey, curry powder and celery seed

IMG_1340

the salad was lacking dimension…so I tossed in some cashews…I topped the pizza with mozzarella, had I been shooting for authenticity, I would have used paneer…but, how authentic is “Indian pizza”, anyway? haha. Friend brought some cider, a perfect accompaniment.

It wasn’t Shalimar, and it wasn’t Raju…but it was a good Indian-ish dinner with good friends….we should have ended the night with some Bollywood.

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