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"These spices are the soul of Indian cooking." (includes recipes) (Chiefs of the West)

The cuisine of the Indian subcontinent is an ancient and varied one. But to most American diners it simply means curry--a notion that amuses Indians if it does not annoy them. As more Indian restaurants open, our appreciation of the complexity of the country's cuisine grows. One concept that has caught on is tandoori cooking--named for the tandoor, a very hot clay or brick oven that sears the surface of meat or fish, creating a crisp and richly colored crust. The crust and the meat take their flavor from a blend of herbs, spices, lime, vinegar, and yogurt used as a marinade and basting sauce. These spices are the soul of Indian cooking and are more important, in fact, than the tandoor itself. Tandoori dishes can be, and often are, barbecued over coals, baked in an oven, or cooked on a rotisserie. After marinating chicken legs in a classic tandoori marinade, S.M. Estvanik grills them over charcoal. You can use any chicken parts, of course. For deeper flavor penetration, some Indian cooks remove the skin, slash the meat in several places, and rub in the marinade.

Tandoori Barbecued Chicken

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 1/4 cup lime juice 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried hot red

chilies 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed

1 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger 1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 cup unflavored low-fat yogurt

6 to 8 chicken legs (drumsticks with

thighs attached, about 2 3/4 to 3 1/2

lb. total) In a blender or food processor, whirl vinegar, lime juice, chilies, cumin, turmeric, paprika, cilantro, garlic, ginger, and parsley until smoothly pureed. Put in a large bowl, add yogurt, and mix well. Rinse legs and pat dry. Make a cut through to thigh and drumstick bones along entire length of each leg. Add chicken to yogurt mixture; mix to coat thoroughly. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or up until next day. In a barbecue with a lid, ignite 50 to 60 charcoal briquets on the firegrate. When coals are dotted with gray ash, push equal amounts to opposite sides of grate. Place grill 4 to 6 inches above height of coals. Drain legs briefly and lay them on grill, but not directly over coals. Cover barbecue, open drafts, and cook until chicken is no longer pink at bone in thickest part (cut to test), about 40 minutes. Baste frequently with remaining yogurt mixture. Makes 6 to 8 servings. Per serving: 285 cal.; 31 g protein; 16 g fat; 3.8 g carbo.; 120 mg sodium; 105 mg chol.

With shrimp at the price they are, one should make every effort to enhance, and not conceal, their flavor. Jambalayas and gumbos are fine if you operate a shrimp boat, but the rest of us would prefer a more subtle approach, like Robert Gates' Shrimp de Jonghe. Gates enjoyed it in a Chicago South Side restaurant years ago and has reconstructed a recipe for us. Samuel Johnson once said that the keenest of human pleasures is to do a good deed by stealth and have it discovered by accident. Re-creating a favorite restaurant dish by memory and experiment (and getting it right) is a similar pleasure.

Shrimp de Jonghe

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped chives 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire

3 tablespoons seasoned fine dry

bread crumbs 1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 pound medium-large (36 to 42 per

lb.) shrimp, shelled and deveined 1/4 cup dry sherry

Paprika In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat, stir together until hot the butter, garlic, parsley, chives, Worcestershire, 1 tablespoon of the crumbs, and pepper. Add shrimp and stir often just until they turn pink but are still translucent and moist-looking in center (cut to test), 3 to 4 minutes. Evenly arrange shrimp with butter mixture in 4 individual casseroles (each about 3/4-cup size). Add sherry to pan, scraping browned bits free; spoon liquid equally over shrimp. Evenly sprinkle remaining crumbs over shrimp, then dust lightly with paprika. Bake, uncovered, in a 400 [degrees] oven until crumbs are lightly toasted, 5 to 8 minutes, Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 178 cal.; 20 g protein; 7.5 g fat; 6.8 g carbo.; 349 mg sodium; 156 mg chol.

The bean is the donkey of the vegetable world, bearing up under derision while it carries a big load of nutrition, especially in parts of the world where meat is a luxury. Since pre-Columbian times in Mexico, the bean has been a significant source of protein. More recently, the refried bean has become a staple on the Mexican-American restaurant combination plate. Modestly refried (when judged by Mexican standards for fat added), Carter Wilson's dish consists of beans that have been boiled, mashed, then cooked again with seasonings. More traditional refried beans start as a sort of thick porridge; then the mixture solidifies rapidly, forming a crust around the edges. Any left over for another meal quickly takes on the appearance of a lava field and the texture of fudge--but still tastes good. Wilson's concoction passes the porridge stage quickly and goes right to the solid state with his Idaho Pinto Bean Cakes. A ham hock and chicken broth enrich the bean flavor in the boiling process. After the beans are mashed and seasoned, the mixture is shaped into round cakes and cooked yet again.

Idaho Pinto Bean Cakes with Salsa

1 cup dry pinto beans or 2 cans (15-oz.

size) pinto beans

1 small (about 1 1/2 lb.) smoked ham

hock, cut in half and rinsed 3 1/2 cups or 2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each)

regular-strength chicken broth

4 slices bacon, chopped 1/4 cup each finely chopped onion and

red bell pepper

2 large cloves garlic, minced or


1 medium-size fresh jalapeno chili,

stemmed, seeded, and finely


2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh

cilantro (coriander) 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal

About 4 tablespoons salad oil

Homemade or purchased salsa Sort dry beans, discarding any debris; rinse beans and place in bowl. Cover with cold water and let soak overnight. Drain soaked beans and place in a 3- to 4-quart pan along with ham hock and broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer until beans are tender to bite, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. (Omit these steps if using canned beans.) Drain liquid from beans, cooked dry or canned, and place beans in a large bowl. Reserve cooking liquid and ham hock for other uses, such as soup. Mash the beans with a potato masher until mixture sticks together; set aside. In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp, stirring often. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno. Stir often until union is limp, about 10 minutes. Add onion mixture to mashed beans along with cilantro, cumin, and pepper; mix well. If warm, cover and chill until cool, at least 1 hour or up until next day. Spread cornmeal on a sheet of waxed paper. Shape bean mixture, 1/8 at a time, into cakes about 1/2 inch thick and 2 1/2 inches across; as formed, coat each cake all over with cornmeal and set slightly apart on another sheet of waxed paper. Rinse and dry the frying pan, then add 2 tablespoons of the oil and set over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add cakes without crowding; cook until golden brown on both sides. Lift out and keep warm until all are browned; add more oil as needed. Serve bean cakes with salsa to add to taste. Makes 8; allow 1 or 2 for each serving. Per piece: 234 cal.; 12 g protein; 13 g fat; 18 g carbo.; 453 mg sodium; 19 mg chol.

It looks like any other truffle

Sweet heat is the surprise in these confection truffles. You make a syrup with jalapeno chilies, then add it to uncooked powered-sugar fondant. Shaped into balls and dusted with cocoa, the effect is cool with a tingling afterglow.

Jalapeno Truffles

6 fresh jalapeno chilies (about 5 oz.

total) 1/4 cup white vinegar 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine, at

room temperature

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

About 3 cups powdered sugar 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa Wearing rubber gloves, stem, seed, and mince jalapenos (do not touch eyes) In a 1- to 2-quart pan, combine chilies, vinegar, and granulated sugar. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil, without stirring, until thermometer reads 220 [degrees] (you may need to tilt pan to pool syrup for an accurate reading), about 6 to 7 minutes. Let stand until cool, at least 15 minutes. In a bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Still beating, add jalapeno syrup and orange peel. Stir in 3 cups powdered sugar, then beat until mixture holds its shape when patted into a ball. If too soft and sticky, stir in a little more powdered sugar. Divide mixture into 1-tablespoon portions. Shape each into a ball to make a truffle. Roll truffles in cocoa completely. Place truffles on a plate, slightly apart. Cover and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 weeks. Makes 25. Per piece: 92 cal.; 0.3 g protein; 2 g fat; 19 g carbo.; 19 mg sodium; 4.9 mg chol.
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Date:May 1, 1990
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