An old friend stopped by last week. It was such a pleasure to see him again, and cook for him! His wife fed me often and well during my graduate school days... I only wish I could have cooked for her as well. This dinner is a well-rehearsed group of dishes, many of which can be prepared in advance.
The chicken curry uses Patak's mild korma curry paste. I fry lotsa onions until nice and mahogany brown (this 10-20 minute saute, apparently, is the secret to a thick, rich sauce). Then I add to the onions a whole jar of the curry paste, cooking until fragrant. Into the slow cooker this mixture goes, followed by ~1 cup water used to rinse the jar and the frypan. I fry 2 kg thighs until golden brown on the outside, then mix into the onion and spice paste mixture and cook on low for 2-4 hours. This short cooking time seems to defeat the purpose of using a slow cooker -- but if you cook it much longer, the chicken disintegrates into shreds, probably because of the pre-cooking. I use the slow cooker because it's convenient to have the stovetop and oven free for the other dishes.
For vegetables, I have invented this room temperature 'salad'. It has nothing to do with true Indian cuisine, but it's convenient because it keeps very well and thus you can make it the day before. And the cool texture of the still-crunchy vegetables goes well, I think, with more mushy curries.
To make the salad, I parboil cauliflower, carrots and beans until just barely cooked. Then they are marinated in a simple vinaigrette of 5 tablespoons canola oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and garam masala.
I also made a raita from yogurt, grated cucumbers, mint and cumin.
Oh, and a sharp garnishy thing of coriander (cilantro), tomatoes and red onions.
And Patak's spicy lime pickles.
And basmati rice in the rice cooker.
When it was ready, I surreptitously took a photo of my plate (no use having my old friend worry about my new strange habits). Ouila, mush everything together and come up with new and exciting combinations with every mouthful!