Sunday, October 12, 2014

Inspired by Columbus: Tandoori Grill

Tandoori Grill
808 Bethel Rd.
Columbus, OH
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If you can handle a little heat, Tandoori Grill might just the best Indian food you'll find here in Columbus.  Their website says, "brace yourself for a culinary master class – a festival of flavors in every forkful – and allow yourself to be swept away by the exotic aromas and tastes of truly outstanding Indian-Pakistani cuisine." This is a bold claim, but they deliver.  

Tandoori Grill has an attractive but casual setting centered around a beautifully painted wall and several eye-catching light fixtures. We walked in for lunch at 11:20, about 10 minutes before they officially opened, but they kindly accommodated us anyway.  

We ordered Isaac a delicious mango lassi while we looked over the menu which included all the classics I expected and a few things I hadn't heard of before. Considering the quality of food they were boasting, I was pleased with the middle-of-the-road prices.

We started with potato samosas and fish pakora and then moved on to chicken tikka masala and goat korma with an order of plain naan.  Everything was perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned, certainly among the best, if not the best I have had in Columbus.  I do feel compelled to offer one caveat.  See those peppers in the bottom right of the menu, I think they are there for a reason.  Even though we ordered traditionally mild dishes, like chicken tikka masala and asked for them to be mild, all of the dishes we ordered, the potato samosas, the fish pakora, the chicken tikka masala, and the goat korma were all unpalatably spicy with no indication on the menu that this would be the case.  Make no mistake, this food tasted amazing and if you enjoy spicy foods you will love it. Spiciness aside, I really did enjoy our experience and was looking forward to making an original Indian dish when I got home.

How I was Inspired

I have made flatbread pizzas before, but have always stuck with fairly traditional flavors. Considering how much I enjoy chicken pizzas and also because I like sopping up my curry with naan, I thought a chicken tikka masala naan pizza sounded delicious.

I started by combining salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander with some plain yogurt, vegetable oil, garlic, and ginger and then coating the chicken with it and letting it sit for an hour before broiling it until it was spotty brown all over.  Normally, this chicken would be cut up and tossed with the masala sauce, but I decided to leave it the way it was.

Next I sauteed some minced onion, chile pepper, garlic, ginger, tomato paste and garam masala until softened and fragrant.  I added some crushed tomatoes and salt to taste and simmered for 15 minutes.  Then, off heat, I added heavy cream.

I shredded some paneer cheese and was ready to assemble my pizzas.  I put down a generous layer of masala sauce on a round of naan (the naan can absorb quite a bit, so no need to be dainty).  Then I topped it with paneer cheese and chicken and baked it at 500 degrees for about 5-8 minutes.  The cheese will not melt, so you are mostly just darkening and crisping the bottom of the naan.  Finally, I topped it with a few leaves of cilantro and served it up.

Chicken Tikka Masala Naan Pizza
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. salt plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more for sauteing
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 serrano or jalapeno chile, seeds and ribs removed, and minced
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. garam masala
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • cilantro leaves for garnish
  • 4 oz. paneer cheese, shredded
  • 4 rounds of naan
  1. Mix the cumin, coriander, 1 tsp. salt, black pepper, yogurt, vegetable oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 1 Tbsp. ginger together.  Dredge the chicken in the yogurt mixture and set aside on a broiler pan for one hour.
  2. While the chicken marinades, saute the onion in a little vegetable oil over medium heat until very soft.  Add the remaining garlic and ginger, chile, tomato paste and garam masala and cook until fragrant.  Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Off heat, add the heavy cream and salt to taste.
  3. Gently broil the chicken until well-browned on one side then turn over and brown on the other side.  Let the chicken cool five minutes before slicing.
  4. Spread a generous amount of sauce onto the naan then top with shredded cheese and sliced chicken.  Bake at 500 degrees for 5-8 minutes until the bottom of the naan is well-browned and crisp.  Top with cilantro leaves and serve.
Next week I'm going to take you to one of the best breakfasts I've had in Columbus and show you a different take on breakfast.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Inspired by Columbus: The Orchard and Company

The Orchard and Company
7255 US HWY 42 North
Plain City, OH
Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-6pm, September and October
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There are other U-pick orchards I can recommend, like Lynd Fruit Farm.  There are other Fall Festivals I enjoy, like Pigeon Roost Farm.  But The Orchard and Company does an excellent job of combining both of these concepts together. After parking you are greeted to a hay castle facade behind which their pumpkins sit awaiting purchase.

There is a lot to do at The Orchard and Company.  It has the obligatory pumpkin patch, hay ride, apple picking, and petting zoo, but also a few unique offerings.  This includes a zipline, pedal cars, slides, and more.

Isaac's favorite two areas were the massive jumping pillow and the corn pit, which comes loaded with trucks to play with.  The jumping pillow in particular is an attraction I had never seen before and it could hold a lot of kids who were all having a great time.

There is also a large pavilion with face painting, goods for sale, and a cafe which sells the standard fall festival fare like cider, hotdogs, and pumpkin donuts.  The Orchard and Company was not cheap, and Isaac and I had already had lunch, so we didn't partake in any of these snacks, but looking at this menu I started to get an idea.

How I was Inspired
I have been going to orchards and fall festivals for years and one of the things I have tried repeatedly is the cider dog.  I love the concept of a smoky salty hotdog mixed with a sweet and richly flavored cider.  However, I almost always find the hotdog is unaffected by the the addition of cider and I'm disappointed.  So I set out to infuse as much cider flavor into a hotdog.

I looked at a lot of ideas for this dish, and though I ended up making something that was my own, I was definitely inspired by the blog Heather Likes Food and Epicurious. First, I diamond cut the hotdogs so they would hopefully absorb as much flavor as possible.  Then I reduced 2 cups of apple cider down to 1/4 cup and added 2 garlic cloves and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar.  I marinaded the hotdogs for 24 hours.

Next, I braised an apple (that I picked while at Orchard and Company) and half an onion in apple cider until very soft and sweetened by the cider.

Finally, I broiled the hotdogs until well-charred, added smoked cheddar, and broiled again to crisp up the rolls and melt the cheese.  I topped the dogs with the apple/onion mixture and some barbecue sauce that I mixed with another 2 cups of cider that I reduced down to 2 Tbsp (in retrospect I think a whole grain mustard mixed with the reduced cider might have been even better).  I served them with some delicious sweet potato chips.

Cider-marinaded hotdogs with cider-braised apples and onions, smoked cheddar, and cider barbecue sauce.
  • 8 hotdogs and rolls
  • 1/2 gallon sweet apple cider
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 apple, sliced thin
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thin
  • 4 oz. smoked cheddar, shredded
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  1. Boil 2 cups of cider over high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Mix reduced cider with vinegar and garlic and put in a shallow dish.  Cut a diamond pattern into both sides of the hotdogs and submerge in the marinade.  Refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  2. Braise the apple and onion in 2 cups of sweet cider over medium high heat until very soft and sweet.  Set aside.
  3. Boil 2 cups of cider over high heat until reduced to 2 Tbsp.  Mix with the barbecue sauce and set aside.
  4. Broil the hotdogs turned as needed until well-charred on all sides.  Remove and put in hotdog rolls.  Top with some shredded cheese and gently broil until the rolls are golden brown and the cheese is melted.
  5. Top the hotdogs with the braised apple and onions and some barbecue sauce and serve with sweet potato chips.