Proven Platter

The Proven Platter, India, January 2018

Hello Diners!

We’re visiting India this month. We’ve been there many times and sampled the cuisine of many different areas of India. This time we’ll be focused on Uttar Pradesh in the northern part of India.

Wikipedia tells me that “Mughlai cuisine is a style of cooking developed in the Indian subcontinent by the imperial kitchen of the Mughal empire. It represents the cooking styles used in North India, especially Uttar Pradesh.” Being the former seat of Nawabshahi rulers during the Mughal dynasty, the cuisine of this area bears the distinctive impression of having originated from the royal court of the Nawabs. Thus, you’ll find recipes containing (at the time) very expensive dried fruits, nuts and spices.

While Chicken Korma is now pretty much ubiquitous on the menu of most every Indian restaurant, it does contain the hallmarks of the Mughlai cuisine. Rich with cream and yogurt, nuts and fragrant spices, it is a delicious dish, although not spicy.

Also on the menu is a simple stir-fried Cauliflower with Ginger, Garlic and Green Chiles, a dish that is a nice complement to the chicken, and looks good on the plate as well.

For dessert, the Chai-Spice Almond Cookies are irresistible. They can be made a day ahead of time and stored in a tin, hidden of course from other family members, lest you find yourself having to make more at the last minute!

Please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions or comments for me.


Chicken Korma (Tested)

Serves 4 to 6

Chicken Korma was once a noble dish that graced the banquet tables of the Mughal court, laden with cream, nuts, and expensive spices. Some recipes use just cream, some use yogurt, and some recipes include both. This is a mild curry, not spicy, and I think you’ll find it appealing to all taste buds. Serve with basmati rice to sop up all the sauce!


One 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped (about 3 tbsp.)

1 large onion, cut in half (half chopped, half sliced)

5 garlic cloves, chopped

¼ cup cashews

1 ½ cups plain, whole milk yogurt (not Greek-style)

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 ½ tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. kosher salt, or ½ tsp. regular salt

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

3 tbsp. canola oil

2 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs

One 2-inch stick cinnamon

8 whole cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

3 tbsp. heavy cream

Cilantro sprigs for garnish


Place the ginger, the chopped onion, garlic, and ½ cup water into a blender container. Blend until smooth, then add the cashews and blend until smooth again. Set aside for use later.

Next, whisk the yogurt with the coriander, garam masala, salt and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Pour the oil into a large, wide, sauté pan and heat. Make sure the pan is good and hot so the chicken won’t stick to the pan. Add the chicken thighs, and turn the heat to medium. Turn the chicken after browning one side, and repeat flipping the chicken thighs until they are mostly done. You will finish cooking them in the sauce.

Remove the chicken and set aside, remove any excess fat in the pan as well, leaving about 2 tablespoons remaining. Still over medium heat, add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and bay leaves. Toast for a minute, then add the remaining sliced onion. Sauté for a few minutes, until the onion turns translucent and is just starting to brown a bit. Add the reserved garlic/ginger paste to the pan, fry for a few minutes so that all the raw flavor has been cooked off.

Stir in the yogurt, the heavy cream, and then nestle the chicken thighs into the yogurt. Simmer on low for 5 to 10 more minutes, until the chicken is done and the sauce has reduced a bit.

Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve with basmati rice.

Recipe and photo credit: Linda McElroy

Adapted from


Cauliflower with Ginger, Garlic and Green Chile (Tested)

Serves 4 to 6

 This cauliflower stir-fry is a snap to prepare. Have all of your ingredients sliced, and spices measured out ahead of time, so that it can be assembled quickly.


2 to 3 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. yellow or brown mustard seeds

3 cloves garlic, sliced into julienne strips

One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into julienne strips

1 jalapeno pepper, sliced into julienne strips (seeds removed for less heat)

1 lb. cauliflower florets, about 4 heaping cups

½ to 1 tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. garam masala

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cilantro sprigs for garnish


Heat a large wide sauté with the vegetable oil. When hot add the cumin and mustard seeds. Let them toast for a minute, but as soon as the seeds begin to pop you can add the garlic, ginger, and chiles. Stir for about 30 seconds, then add the cauliflower florets.

Stir fry for 5 to 7 minutes, until the florets turn brown in some spots.

(While the cauliflower is cooking, mix the salt, garam masala, black pepper, and the optional cayenne in a small dish so that it’s ready to add to the pan.)

Add the seasonings, toss to blend, then add ¼ cup of water. Stir quickly and cover, turn the heat down a bit, let the cauliflower finish steaming for 3 more minutes. If not completely done yet, add another ¼ cup of water and continue to steam.

Garnish with chopped cilantro if using.

Recipe and photo credit: Linda McElroy

Adapted from “Quick and Easy Indian Cooking,” by Madhur Jaffrey


Chai-Spiced Almond Cookies (Tested)

Makes 36 cookies

I’ll venture a guess that you’ve probably made Russian Tea Cakes, or Mexican Wedding Cakes. Well, these cookies are that, but with Indian chai spice!

I’ve used whole, blanched, almonds that I ground in the Cuisinart. But I would imagine that for convenience sake you could use the equivalent amount of almond meal.

Inspired by a recipe for Chai-Spiced Almond Cookies from Epicurious, I came up with my recipe after researching several other recipes, and combined the best of them all.  I’ve created my own chai spice blend as well. You’ll have more spice blend than you need, but then, I think you’ll be making this cookie again, perhaps soon!


1 cup softened butter (two sticks)

½ cup powdered sugar

1 ½ tbsp. chai spice blend (see below)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. almond extract

¼ tsp. salt

2 cups flour

1 cup (5 oz.) whole almonds, ground, or substitute 1 heaping cup almond meal

Powdered sugar for rolling


Place the softened butter and ½ cup powdered sugar into the mixing bowl. Cream until smooth, then add the spice blend, vanilla and almond extract, and salt. Mix until blended, then add flour and almonds. Dough should come together smoothly.

Roll into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until just set. The bottom of the cookie should be very pale, not brown! If your cookies are smaller, or bigger, baking time will need to be adjusted.

Remove to cooling rack. When cookies have cooled a bit, but are still warm, roll in powdered sugar to coat. Let cool completely, then roll in powdered sugar one more time to make them look real pretty!

Pro tip: I like to roll them in the second coating of powdered sugar right before I serve them so they look very fresh. If you’re like me, and have a shaker full of powdered sugar, you can just shake sugar all over them to give them a fresh coat instead of rolling them again.

Chai spice blend

Makes about ¼ cup

1 ½ tbsp. cinnamon

1 tbsp. ginger

1 tbsp. cardamom

½ tsp. cloves

½ tsp. finely ground black pepper

½ tsp. nutmeg

Blend all spices thoroughly and store in a small container.

Recipe and photo credit: Linda McElroy

RECIPES-1216 - Daraba

The Proven Platter – Chad

Hello Diners!

The Republic of Chad, located in northern Central Africa, is the subject of our focus and our dining destination this month.

Okra is one of the most commonly consumed vegetables there. It is used both to thicken sauces and as a vegetable used in preparation of soups and stews. I suppose you either love okra or hate it, but as it happens, I love it! And since I’ve yet to post a recipe calling for okra, I think okra’s time in the spotlight has come. Details


The Proven Platter — Holiday Appetizer Party

Hello Diners!

I’ve got lots of good recipes coming your way this month. I thought I’d share with you a tradition that we have started with my group. Every year in either November or December, depending on what month we are meeting, we plan what we call our “holiday appetizer party.” Initially the idea was to bring a favorite appetizer, or bring an appetizer that you were thinking of trying out for the holidays. There is no better audience for feedback than our enthusiastic DFW members!

It has proved to be really successful and fun. There’s less emphasis on planning a meal and the meeting is a little more casual. We pretty much snack and talk and discuss the whole evening.

Of course, you can bring any type of appetizer you like. But I thought it would be fun, and in keeping with our world mission to plan an “Around the World Appetizer Party!” Details


The Proven Platter – Mali

Hello Diners!

We are off to Mali this month, located in West Africa, in support of the Tandana Foundation. Their Women LEAP program provides literacy and numeracy training, as well as democratic governance and leadership skills.

Often, the program we are supporting will send us recipes that are rooted in their culture. This month we received a very detailed recipe called “Recipe for Toh, (Oro Dja), Traditional Food of the Dogon People,” by Jemima Tembiné. She started learning to cook when she was about 10 years old and has been preparing Toh since she was 15 years old. Near as I can tell, Toh is a dish of millet dough that has been pounded, and served along with different sauces made out of various leaves, dried fish and dried vegetables. Details


The Proven Platter – Bolivia

Hello Diners!

This month we get to travel somewhere new, Cochabamba, Bolivia. And we are making one of Bolivia’s most beloved dishes, “Pique Macho.”

Bolivians consider Pique Macho the world’s greatest expression of meat and potatoes!

The dish is a sultry combination of perfectly seasoned beef cubes and sliced hotdogs. It is served over a bed of crispy potato fries and finished with julienned vegetables and multiple garnishes. Hot sauce is an integral part of this dish. Bolivians use a fiery hot sauce that they make from their local locoto peppers, but you can use your own favorite hot sauce. Details


The Proven Platter – India

Hello Diners!

Welcome to India. We’ve traveled there before. Flavors from exotic spices perfume every dish.  Garlic, ginger and chiles add heat. If you love Indian food but are intimidated by long lists of ingredients and techniques, well, I’ve got your back. I’ve taken my inspiration for our recipes this month from “Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking” and “Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking.” Both of these books are devoted to recipes in the under 30 minutes or less category. You’ll need to purchase some spices (the bulk spice aisle is your friend here), but other than that most of the ingredients are commonly found. Details


The Proven Platter – Making Your Own Coconut Milk

Hello Diners!


We’re off to Tanzania this month. “Prawns in Coconut Sauce” and “Pilau Masala” are headlining the menu. These recipes have been graciously shared with us by Miriam Kinunda, the author of the blog “Taste of Tanzania.” I’ve tested both recipes and I give them the thumbs up. You’ll find many other recipes to choose from on her site, as well as some very good ones on our own Dining for Women recipe site.



The Proven Platter – Nepal

Hello Diners!

We are off to Kathmandu this month. I’ve always wanted to go there. Since I’m stuck in Seattle in front of my computer though, I will have to find another way to experience Nepal. That’s one of the great benefits about being a Dining for Women member: armchair travel, through our monthly grantees and exploring the cuisine of different countries feels like I’m there – almost. So let’s go! Details


The Proven Platter | A Vegetarian Thali Platter

Hello Diners!

This month our culinary journey takes us to India, specifically the Maharashtra state in Western India. I got a little ambitious this month though, and rather than present you with one “proven platter” dish, I constructed an entire thali platter just for you! I had a lot of fun working on this project, and even more fun eating the leftovers for days!



The Proven Platter—Nepal, December 2015

Hello Diners!

Our culinary travel this month of December finds us in the Himalayas, specifically Nepal.

Originally, I had it in mind to come up with an interesting twist on the “momo”, a Nepalese steamed dumpling with a meat or vegetable filling, wildly popular and sold on the streets. What about a sweet dumpling filling and call it dessert? My first attempt at this idea was a complete failure, but I still liked the idea and decided I’d work on this for the next time we visit Nepal in April 2016. So I’ve got time to get this right!



The Proven Platter—Togo, November 2015

Hello Diners!

This month we visit the small West African country of Togo. Sandwiched between Ghana on the west and Benin on the east, the southern end of Togo sits at the Gulf of Guinea, where plenty of access to fresh fish helps to round out the cuisine. While fish is an important source of protein, bush meat is also often consumed. The most well-liked bush meat is the giant rat. I think we’ll skip that and make a delicious beef stew instead!


Cabbage Tostada

The Proven Platter: Guatemalan Beet and Cabbage Tostada

Hello Diners!

This month we travel to Guatemala. Oh how I love the food of Central America! While Guatemala does not seem to have a national dish, tamales are very popular. I hesitate to share a recipe with you because they’re pretty labor intensive. Instead, how about something simple, refreshing and different, like a Cabbage and Beet Tostada?