Chicken Korma: a warming supper for a rainy night. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Last night, after a week-long diet of alternating meals of homemade chicken noodle soup and mac and cheese, I was craving Indian food. Upon digging through my freezer and pantry, I found most of the ingredients to make myself a batch of Chicken Korma. I only lacked the cream, which I was able to purchase at the general store down the road. I didn’t bother with the cilantro, instead adding some fresh spinach that I had gotten earlier in the week at a nearby farm stand.

I chopped and sautéed, filling my kitchen with a lovely aroma that warmed my lonesome heart. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but any chicken can be used. Just cook it first then remove it from the bone or not and add it to the sauce. Half and half can be substituted for the cream and milk. Just add a bit more flour or cornstarch and cook it (gently) longer to thicken it.

If you don’t have these spices in your cupboard and don’t want to navigate the grocery store, you can get just what you need at your closest health food store.

For the raita, small, tender zucchinis also work in place of cucumbers. Don’t have cumin seeds and peppercorns? Just carefully warm ground spices.

Earlier yesterday, I had thrown together these Butterscotch Krispies. I had the butterscotch morsels from December, but had run out of time to make these holiday treats. Now it seems I have all the time in the world. If you don’t have corn flakes, just stir enough crunchy bits into the melted chips and peanut butter to make cookies that hold together. Any type of cereal, chow mein noodles or even potato sticks work. These little nuggets are completely addictive and can probably be made with any type of morsel. I must experiment more.

As I ate my “supper for one” at the kitchen island, I thought of the wonderful families who run my favorite Indian restaurants in Brunswick and Lewiston. I’m so looking forward to enjoying a yummy meal in their establishments again soon, but along with the raita and Indian music courtesy of Alexa, this was very close to being there.

Chicken Korma

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon flour or cornstarch
1/2 cup milk
2 cups cream
1-2 cups baby spinach, julienned (optional)
Cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
3 cups cooked rice

In a large heavy skillet with a lid, heat olive oil and sauté chicken pieces until browned, 5-8 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook about 3 minutes, until softened. Add all spices and salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Add chicken and stock. Cook 2 more minutes.

Blend flour or cornstarch with 2 tablespoons milk. Add to pan. Add remaining milk. Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer 25 minutes. Stir in cream, cover and simmer 15 more minutes. If sauce needs to thicken more, remove cover from pan and continue cooking until desired consistency.

Add spinach, if using, cover and simmer for 2 more minutes until spinach is wilted. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro. Yield: 4-6 servings

Cucumber Raita

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
20 black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Combine yogurt, salt and sugar in a bowl with a whisk. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat then turn off the heat and add cumin seeds and peppercorns, stirring for about 40 seconds until they release their aroma. Remove from the pan and allow to cool for 5 minutes then crush them with a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board with a rolling pin.

Set aside 1/2 teaspoon spices and stir the remaining amount into yogurt. Mix with cucumber. Sprinkle with reserved spices and paprika before serving.

Butterscotch Krispies

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 (12-ounce) bag butterscotch morsels
2 cups corn flakes

Stir together peanut butter and morsels in a large pan over medium heat until melted. Remove from heat and stir in cereal. Cool for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon mixture onto waxed paper to form cookies and allow to cool completely. Yield: 2 dozen or more, depending on size

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