Yes, folks -- that's a lot of ingredients! And, no -- that's not it. As I began cooking this dish, I realized I had forgotten to put out about a half dozen other things in the photo. Bah. I also realized I still had some ghee left over from the last time I made it. So, no -- I did not use I Can't Believe it's not Butter! for this recipe. Instead, I used the good stuff: Luscious, golden-flavored ghee.
So, yes -- seitan. My dear friend, Mo, introduced me to this wheat-derived fake meat. I like the "chicken style." It has a strange silky smooth texture to it. I know, I know. I'm really selling you on this product, right? But what is fantastic about it is that it holds the flavor very well in comparison to, say, tofu, which I am not particularly interested in eating often. I find tofu to be quite bland, lest you have infinite amounts of time during which you marinate the curd.
No, seitan is a bit more complex. Granted, it is made from wheat, which is so very, very curious to me. I can't make the visual, tactile or palate connection between wheat and seitan -- but it says it right there on the packaging that this stuff is made from wheat. Fascinating.
So, I wanted to make Makhani tonight. Butter chicken. But, alas, my grocer was out of chicken thighs. Unusual. The butcher said he was, at that moment, waiting or the shipment. My next question was almost: "Well, what time will it be here?" But realizing I didn't want to wait for a shipment of chicken, I opted to use the seitan.
But there I was, at the grocery store, also realizing that I couldn't remember whether or not I had garam masala.
"Yeah, I do. Don't I? No, I didn't buy it. It was fenugreek I bought that last time. No, it was garam masala. I can see it clearly on the label."
Wrong. I didn't have any garam masala. After shaking my fists in the air, I set out the mass assortment of things I would need to make the butter "chicken," along with my first go at saffron rice. *squeals*
I am not going to go through the arduous process of describing what I did. I made the sauce, using onions, scallions and garlic for the base, then made a makeshift garam masala with what ingredients I had on hand: Ground cloves, mace, cardamom, star anise, curry powder and cumin. I also added a sizable amount of lemon. But I forgot to add the nutmeg. Arggghhh!
But I did add cinnamon, which was fantastic! I also added peanut sauce (I didn't have peanut oil) tomato sauce and paste -- maybe a bit too much -- along with rice milk, yogurt, salt and pepper, chile powder, cardamom, cayenne pepper (smart choice for the necessary heat). I cooked the seitan in a skillet to its own, using a bit more peanut sauce and some of the spices from earlier. I also added corn starch distilled in a bit of water. I then added this to the sauce. I know I am forgetting a few steps and, likely, a few ingredients.
The rice was already going at this point. I steeped the saffron in warm water and set the basmati rice (which had been washed and left to sit in water for 20 minutes) in the rice cooker. When it was nearly done, I added peas and carrots along with the saffron and its water. For some reason, the flavor yield was substandard. I can only guess that it is because I didn't have top quality saffron. Again, with the fists in the air.
Ah well. The sauce was fantastic! I am glad I added what I thought to be too much cinnamon and cardamom. The house smelled like a professional restaurant and the taste was not too far behind.
...now I must figure out how to perfect saffron rice.