Sometimes I crave Indian food so much it hurts. The problem is that it’s not always available and if it is, it’s not always affordable. So here’s an example of one of my lazy meals. As much as I like to cook from scratch, there are times when I’m just too tired & headachy to make everything myself. Fortunately for me, I have my friend Mr. Trader Joe to help out. I know many of you in certain areas don’t have this wonderful store that I harp about too often, but there are plenty of these ingredients available at your local supermarket, albeit at a slightly higher price. The resulting meal is not exactly authentic, but it has a lot of the requisite flavors and stands alone just fine on its own.
Trader Joe’s has started carrying these fabulous little Indian soup pouches for about $1.99. They have two varieties right now: Lentil, Spinach, Garlic, and the Carrot Lentil that I am using in this evening’s recipes. They’re meant to be enjoyed as a quick microwaveable meal, but I always see these things as the beginning of something more. TJ’s also sells these incredibly delicious Vegetable Samosas for just $3.49 per half dozen. Filled with peas, carrots, and potatoes, these flaky pastry pockets are both a great appetizer and a fabulous entree, depending on how they’re served. Though they’re tasty enough on their own with plenty of cumin, curry, and other delicious spices, I’m a big fan of sauces to dip into, and chutney is a favorite of mine. There are probably a million chutney variations out there, some in jars, some just written down in recipes. I have combined the best of both worlds and have come up with a simple, quick version of chutney, and even if it is far from traditional, it’s very tasty and gets the job done.
What I want to accomplish in this post, however, is to show you how easy it is to modify pre-made products and make them your own if you just use your imagination. I’ve done nothing to change the samosas, but buying the chutney itself would have cost me an arm and a leg for a mere 6 oz., so being able to stretch my raw (and/or frozen) ingredients is very appealing to me. With a pound of frozen mango, a pound of frozen pineapple, an entire bottle of sweet chili sauce, several cloves of garlic, and an arsenal of spices, you can see how all of these ingredients can lend themselves to hundreds of other recipes when used individually. And that is what I want to teach you: how to make the most out of each ingredient. Right now we’re combining a lot to make an unorthodox version of a classic favorite, but it’s nonetheless delicious. Feel free to add raisins & cucumbers into the chutney for more texture but in a pinch, rest assured that this is all you need for a few frozen samosas. And now, on with the show.
Prepare Cheater Chutney by thawing mango & pineapple. Once thawed, chop or mash with a large fork until the fruit reaches a chunky, stew-like consistency. Add chili sauce, 1 clove crushed garlic, 1/2 tbsp cumin, cinnamon, 1/4 tbsp chilies, and mix together well. Set aside.
Season chicken thighs with garlic salt, ground black pepper, curry powder, chilies, and 1/2 tbsp cumin. In a medium skillet sprayed with cooking spray (I like to use the olive oil spray myself, but any regular cooking spray like PAM will do), add the crushed garlic and heat over medium heat until browned, not burned. Add seasoned chicken with as many extra seasonings as possible, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side (since the meat is covered, it will cook through faster).
In the meantime, heat the samosas in the oven according to the package instructions. When the chicken has cooked thoroughly and is no longer pink on the inside, place on a plate and chop into bite-sized pieces, then return to the pan with original drippings. Add the pouch of Carrot Lentil Soup and cook until completely heated through, simmering for about 4 minutes over medium-low heat. Check for flavor and add seasonings accordingly.