I’ve been delving into Indian cooking with increasing frequency as of late. I don’t know if it’s my admiration for a generous use of tomatoes, or my love of their frequent creamy-spicy flavor combination, but I simply can’t get enough of it these days. There’s just such an amazing array of spices and flavors in their cooking that traditional western cuisine doesn’t have. So when McCormick approached me to develop a recipe for their Modern Masala program, I could not have been more on board (I believe my exact thought process was ‘ohmergod YES.’) Modern Masala refers to an aspect of their 2014 Flavor Forecast that expects Indian cooking to go beyond traditional eastern dishes, with Indian flavors being infused into new and modern culinary scenes. Jafrezi is a great example of this; it’s a heavily spiced curry dish that is stir-fried in oil so it’s more paste-like in texture than the more water and cream-based Indian curries we’re used to seeing in the west. This dish is slowly but surely spreading outside of its current realms of popularity in Pakistan, the UK, and India and making its way through North America and western Europe. While I was tempted to make it for this post, I decided to do an Indian fusion dish, and drew my inspiration from the Canadian favorite, poutine.
Poutine is basically french fries covered in a gravy-like sauce and topped with cheese curds (I’ve been wanting to make actual poutine for a while but have yet to find readily available cheese curds). I decided to make it a bit healthier by baking the fries in the oven and coating them in a McCormick curry powder-olive oil base to get them nice and crispy on the outside. And instead of covering it with gravy, I made a tikka masala sauce and poured it over the top. Tikka masala is a creamy tomato-based sauce that is essentially the ideal tomato soup, but taken to the max with spiced flavor and with a splash of cream tossed in for good measure. And to keep the cheesy poutine vibe going, I topped it all off with paneer cheese crumbles. The result was the ultimate Indian-fusion comfort food, the crispy french fries tasted fantastic covered with the thick and tangy tikka masala, and the creamy and soft paneer cheese bits just rounded out the whole flavor-texture situation. Honestly, this was the best appetizer I’ve made in years. So much flavor, relatively easy to put together, and aside from the cream in the tikka masala sauce, it’s pretty healthy.
The folks at McCormick were kind enough to put together a little giveaway, too! To enter, share your own unique flavor story by commenting on this post using the hashtag #flavorstory and be entered for a chance to win a McCormick Anniversary Edition Product. The giveaway ends May 9th and the gift package includes exclusive McCormick spice products, a McCormick recipe book, and a branded canvas tote – all valued at $50. For every story shared on any of McCormick’s brand websites or social channels, McCormick will donate $1, up to $1.25 million, to United Way to help feed those in need. So keep those entries coming, folks!
Tikka Masala Sauce
Oven Baked Curry Fries
3/4 teaspoon salt
First, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter with the oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste, garam masala, and red curry powder and toast for 4 minutes, stirring every minute. Add the tomatoes, water, and salt and allow to simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes. Remve the mixture from heat, puree it in a blender or food processor, and pour it back into the pot. Stir in the cream until incorporated and then cover and keep warm until serving time.
To prepare the fries, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss all of the ingredients except the paneer together and spread them out in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden around the edges and crispy. Remove and allow to cool slightly, then transfer them to the serving plate. Cover them with the tikka masala sauce and top with the fresh cilantro and paneer cheese. Serve immediately.