It was Sunday afternoon and I had not planned ahead for something to cook for dinner. I really wanted Chicken Curry but I really didn't' have all the ingredients I needed for my favorite recipe. I hauled out a copy of my Six Spices, A Simple Concept Of Indian Cooking and foraged for a replacement recipe (page 99). I found one that worked for me but I knew I'd probably still have to do some substitutions.
We receive many questions regarding recipe ingredient substitutions. Many times I ask myself "why don't they just find another recipe if they don't have the proper ingredients?". Or, better yet, go to the store! I mean, if you are looking at a recipe for Cilantro Pesto but you hate cilantro and you hate pine nuts and wouldn't even consider eating Parmesan, WHY would you select that recipe, humm?
Powdered Ginger For Fresh - I was pretty hesitant here but I've substituted powdered for fresh ginger before and it worked out OK. Many curries use ginger-garlic paste and this recipe was no exception. I'm sure fresh would have been even better but the result was pretty good. Cilantro - I didn't have any cilantro, and frankly, my husband being of Maltese descent hates cilantro so I just left it out. If I'd had any flat-leaf parsley I'd have probably tossed some in. Yogurt - Wow, the cupboard really was bare.. no yogurt either but I did have cream, so cream it was! Fresh Tomatoes - I only needed eight ounces, I could have used canned but I rooted around in my garden and found the last six or so ounces of cherry tomatoes, perfect! Fresh Chicken - I had some organic boneless-skinless chicken thighs in the freezer so I did a quick microwave thaw.
The recipe turned out great! Given I've never prepared this particular recipe with all the correct ingredients I had no basis of comparison but I'd suspect following the instructions would have made it even better. Had I let the chicken thighs thaw naturally rather than micro-thaw I think the texture would have been better. I think the cream was very good (whats not to like about cream) but I think that little tartness in yogurt would have been a good add. If my husband had been out of town I'd definitely have found some cilantro somewhere. The little cherry tomatoes, cut up in "fours" were more distinctive than whole chopped up, so I liked that too. As for the powdered ginger I think the dish lost some of its pizazz but, still good.
The final result is that I will be braver about subsitutions in the future and try to be less judgemental about people and their needs for substitutions.
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Read author Russ Klettke blog A Guy's Gotta Eat where he keeps us up to date good nutrition and simple meals for a guy on the move.