For us, the hardest has always been the spices. For any one Indian dish, you need a whole arsenal of spices that don't exactly make the "salt and pepper" list for the average cook --turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, curry powder, the list goes on and on. Then you need to know exactly how to combine them to get the desired flavor. This takes either a whole lot of experience, or a great recipe.
Well, thanks to India Plaza (1874 E. Apache Dr., Tempe), spices just got easy. Now, rather than having to stock your kitchen with a dozen types of Indian spices, you can just pick up a spice packet, pre-mixed in exact ratios for each dish. Want kofta lamb curry? Just pick up some lamb and a packet of lamb kofta spice. What about chicken tikki masala? No problem. Grab some chicken and the tikki masala packet.
So on a recent Saturday, we decided to try it ourselves. We originally intended just to buy the ingredients for lamb curry, but when we started to wander down the aisles of spices, sweets and other Indian treats, we admit that we got a bit carried away. Soon the ingredients for saag paneer (a spiced spinach dish with cubed paneer cheese) and raita (cucumber salad dressed with spiced yogurt) also found their way into our basket.
We were also tickled to see that Pillsbury has an entire line of pre-made frozen Indian breads, like garlic and potato-stuffed naan. Just to try, we grabbed some of that too.
The result? Far too much food that was absolutely delicious.
Lamb Curry Recipe:
3 pounds lamb, diced
1 can diced tomatos
1 packet "National" brand lamb kofta spice mix
flour for dredging
Preheat the oven to 350. Cube the lamb, and dredge it in flour. Dice the the onions. Saute the onions and brown the lamb. Add the can of tomatoes, and spice packet. Put in a deep oven dish, and add just enough water to cover the lamb, mixing the spices so there are no lumps. Put covered dish in the oven and cook for 2 hours.