Arm chair traveling with Georgian Court University: Feasting on India

Dr. Kasturi Das Gupta arranged for henna artists to be on hand and here, little Carleigh Schoeneick, 10, Brick, whose mom, Jennifer, is a history major at Georgian Court University, shows how the ancient art form looks on her hand. (Photo by Lois Rogers)

Over the past two years,  our nephew, Patrick Anselm Rogers, has traveled widely through India, studying the Hindu language in a missionary school,  volunteering and taking in the spectacular scenery from the Himalayas to Bengal. In his travels, the taste for Indian cuisine he started developing in childhood as an outgrowth of his family’s interest in the Bollywood phenomenon, intensified.

He, of course, has been sharing his culinary insights with all of us and making us very hungry in the process.

So, for the second time in a few months, I decided to embark on a journey, via Georgian Court University, to a realm traveled by family members and friends but viewed only on television by me. The first excursion took place during a summer staycation to Egypt sponsored by the McAuley Community Center where Egyptian cuisine was on the menu.

That “voyage” was so enjoyable, when the McAuley Community Center extended a similar invitation to India, I jumped at the chance for enhanced armchair travel again. This time, the guide was a good friend, Dr. Kasturi Das Gupta, professor of sociology who has opened windows for me over the years on so many critical concerns shared by the Sisters of Mercy including immigration, race relations, homelessness, nonviolence and all manner of environmental concerns.

To share a small “journey” with her to India, her native land, was a lovely opportunity. A highlight of the three days was a spectacular performance of classical Indian dance by the Kalamandir Dance Company. It was a marvelous evening, full of drama and tradition and it definitely left everyone lucky enough to attend the performance in the Wellness Center hungry for more.

Leaving me hungry for more also, was a lunch of Indian fare in the dining hall which featured a robust Chicken Tikka Masala, a favorite dish in our family and always so well prepared by my sister-in-law, Kate.

The recipe below, is adapted for grilling and since the weather is still so good for grilling, grilling seemed like a great way to go. It’s easy to prepare and quite delicious.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients: 1 cup Greek yogurt; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; 2 tablespoons ground cumin; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper; 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper; 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger; 4 teaspoons salt; 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces; four wooden skewers

Sauce: 1 tablespoon butter; 1 clove minced garlic; 1 chili pepper, finely chopped; 2 teaspoons ground cumin; 2 teaspoons paprika; 3 teaspoons salt or to taste; 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce; 1 cup heavy cream; 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro.

Directions: In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger and 4 teaspoons salt. Stir in chicken, cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Prepare your grill for high heat. Lightly oil the grill gate. Thread the chicken onto skewers and Grill until the juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side. Then, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic and chili pepper for about 1 minute, add 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika and 3 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until the sauce thickens and simmer for 10 minutes.Take the chicken off the skewers and add to the sauce. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with fresh cilantro.


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