Vij-ions of nirvana

27 May

We know, we know. Another ghetto fabulous bberry photo. We’re getting a camera soon, honest!

From the Vancouver legend Vikram Vij and his cookbook, Vij’s: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine (Douglas & McIntyre, 205 pp., $40).

About 1/4 cup of oil is the most we’ve dared to add. We’ve also been adding coconut milk at the end instead of sour cream. Best yet!

½ Cup Canola Oil
2 Cups Finely Chopped Onions (2 Large)
3-inch Stick of Cinnamon
3 Tbsp Finely Chopped Garlic
2 Tbsp Chopped Ginger
2 Cups Chopped Tomatoes (2 Large)
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Turmeric
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
1 Tbsp Ground Coriander
1 Tbsp Garam Masala
½ tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper (I used 1 ½ tsp)
3 lbs Chicken Thighs, bone in
1 Cup Sour Cream, stirred
2 Cups Water
½ Cup Chopped Cilantro (including stems)
In a large pan, heat oil on medium heat for 1 minute. Add onions and cinnamon, and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, until onions are golden. Add garlic and sauté for another 4 minutes. Add ginger, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala and cayenne. Cook this masala for 5 minutes, or until the oil separates from the masala. Remove and discard skin from the chicken thighs. Wash thighs and add to the masala. Stir well. Cook chicken for 10 minutes, until the chicken looks cooked on the outside. Add sour cream and water and stir well. Increase the heat medium-high. When curry starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times, until chicken is completely cooked. Poke the thighs with a knife. If the meat is still pink, cook for 5 more minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Cool curry for at least half an hour. Transfer cooled chicken to a mixing bowl. Wearing latex gloves, peel chicken meat off the bones. Discard bones and stir chicken back into the curry. Just before serving, heat the curry on medium heat until it starts to boil lightly. Stir in cilantro. Serves 8

The real secret to this recipe is to let the curry sit and cool for as long as you can- an hour is the minimum. This allows the flavours to blend together beautifully
from Bon Appetit’s readers’ favourite restaurant recipes, Jan/09
1 1/2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
1 1/2 cups canned tomato puree
3 Tablespoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons ground coriander
2 Tablespoons canola oil
4 teaspoons paprika
1 Tablespoon celery seed
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom pods, cracked
10 whole cloves
5 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 pounds chicken thighs
hanful of chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 375.  Whisk first 13 ingredients in a 2 quart baking dish.  Add chicken, and stir to coat the chicken with the sauce.  Bake until chicken is cooked through (for bone-in thighs, I cooked them 50 minutes).
Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati rice.
2 cups cilantro, chopped
½ cup mint, chopped
2 jalapenos, finely chopped
1.5 cups red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
1 cup water
½ cup canola oil
1.5 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seed
3 tablespoons garlic , crushed
1 tablespoon salt
2 cup plain yoghourt, stirred, or 3/4C whole buttermilk
3 lbs chicken thighs, bone in
3 cups basmati rice, cooked
Mix cilantro leaves and stems, mint leaves, jalapenos, and ginger in a food processor and the cup of water and puree until smooth, set the cutney aside.
Heat oil in a heavy shallow pot on med heat for 1 min. Add cumin and coriander seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 30 seconds.
Add garlic and saute for about 3 minutes or until golden brown, Stir in salt.
Turn off the heat and after 2-3 minutes stir in 1C yogourt. Add chicken thighs and stir well. Turn the heat to medium and cover and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring regularly. (If you have the time, let it cook a little longer, then the chicken should just fall off the bone.) Remove curry from the heat and cool for about 20 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a mixing bowl. Wearing latex gloves peel chicken meat off the bones. The size of the chicken pieces doesn’t matter but do not shred them. Discard bones and stir chicken back into curry.
Stir in mint-cilantro chutney and the other cup of yogourt, About 15 mins before serving bring curry to a boil on medium heat. Turn down the heat to a summer cook, uncovered for about 10 minutes or until chicken is ell mixed.
Serve over rice.
Important Cooking tips from Vikram: Smell the cinnamon bark. If it’s very strong, break the bark in ½ and only use half. If it’s not strong enough, add ½ bark. Smell for the cinnamon throughout the cooking process. You should smell a mild cinnamon flavour instead of a strong one. If cinnamon is the only spice you smell, take out the bark and continue cooking the curry.If at any time the onions or tomato spice mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pan or looks like it’s about to burn, either lower the heat or add 1 tablespoon of oil or ghee. Do not add water. This is meant to be a rich curry.

• 6 large beef short ribs, bone in with excess fat trimmed off
• 1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil (60 ml)
• 2 tablespoons ghee (30 ml)
• 1 large onion, very finely chopped (approximately 1 cup)
• 1 heaping tbsp. finely chopped garlic (5 ml)
• 1 cup ground fresh tomatoes (250 ml)
• 1/2 cup red wine (250 ml)
• 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock with the fat skimmed off (1 litre)
• 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (15 ml)
• 1 whole piece cinnamon bark (approximately 3-inches long)
• ½ heaping tsp. ground fenugreek seeds (2 ml)
• 1 heaping tbsp. cumin powder (15 ml)
• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (2 ml)
• 1/2 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper (2 ml)
• 1 heaping tbsp. Mexican chilli powder (2 ml)

In a large, heavy saucepan with fitted lid, melt the ghee on medium to high heat. Add the cooking oil and the cumin seeds. Let the seeds sizzle for 30 seconds and add the cinnamon bark and onions. Sauté until the onions are medium brown in colour. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until garlic is golden brown and onions are a darker brown. The darker you sauté the onions without letting them burn, the richer the onion flavour will be in this dish.
Temporarily lower the heat and add the tomatoes and all of the remaining spices. Once you stir the powdered spices in the tomatoes, increase the heat back to medium. Stir regularly and continue cooking the spices until the oil/ghee separates from the tomatoes. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the stock and red wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the oil/ghee separates from the stock and rises to the top, stirring occasionally.
Add the short ribs and stir well. Bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer the short ribs until the meat completely separates from the bone. This will take approximately 4 hours and you will need to stir occasionally.
This recipe is for 30 medium size popsicles, with five per person.”
Marinated Lamb Popsicles with Fenugreek Cream Curry Recipe
• 4 lbs French cut racks of lamb, in chops
• 1/4 cup white wine
• 3/4 cup grainy yellow mustard
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp black pepper
Combine the popsicles with all the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Cream curry:
4 cups whipping cream
• 1 Tbs salt
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
• 1 tablespoon dried green fenugreek leaves (known as “kasuri methi”)
• 60 ml or 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 60 ml or 1/4 cup canola oil
• 3 tablespoons packed finely chopped garlic
• 1 tsp turmeric
In a large bowl, mix the whipping cream, salt, paprika, cayenne, fenugreek flakes and lemon juice. In a medium size pot, saute the garlic in canola oil on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the garlic is golden. Stir in the turmeric, and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream mixture, stir and heat on low to medium heat for about five minutes, or until it is gently boiling.
Finish Lamb Popsicles:
Preheat a stove-top cast iron grill or an outside barbeque to high heat. Each side of the popsicles should be grilled for two to three minutes. You can either pour the cream curry over the grilled popsicles or use the cream curry as a dipping curry for the popsicles


4 portions of halibut
salt, pepper & pepper flakes to taste

Coconut Curry Sauce:

1/4 cup of canola oil
20 curry leaves
3 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup pureed onion
1 lb tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp each of ground cumin and coriander
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
6 whole cloves
3 cups of water
1 cup coconut milk, stirred

Sautee curry leaves, garlic, and onion in the oil for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Add tomatoes, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne and cloves. Continue cooking for 8 minutes until the water from the tomatoes has evaporated and the oil glistens on top. Add water and coconut milk, Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain and portion the liquid to 4 heated serving bowls.

Season fish with pepper flakes, salt and pepper and pan fry in olive oil and butter until cooked. Place on the serving bowls with the curry sauce, spoon a little bit of the sauce on top and garnish with cilantro leaves. The cookbook suggests serving with Muscat Ottonel.


7 ounces green onions (about 8 stalks)
1 cup plain yogurt, stirred
1 tablespoon Mexican chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
21/2 teaspoons salt
1 eggplant, skin on, in 1-inch cubes
2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)
1/2 cup canola oil

Wash the green onions. Chop the white parts in rounds ¼-inch long. Remove and discard the hollow green parts. Chop the remaining solid green parts in rounds ¾-inch long. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, chili powder, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Add the eggplant, tomatoes and onions and stir well to make sure the vegetables are well covered in the curry mixture.
In a shallow, heavy pan, heat oil on medium-high for 45 seconds. Pour the curry into the pan and stir well. Sauté for about three minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking. Turn off the heat and stir once more. Remove the lid if you are not going to serve the curry immediately, or the eggplant will become too mushy.
To serve, ladle the curry into six bowls or plates. If serving with another curry, serve this one in a bowl, so that it doesn’t “run” on the plate. Serves 6.
1/2 cup canola oil
25 to 30 fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
1 tbsp + 1 tsp chopped garlic
2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 12 ounce can coconut milk, stirred
1 lb eggplant, cubed
1 lb cauliflower, cut into small florets
3/4 lb red, green or yellow bell peppers, cubed
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat. Keeping your head at a distance from the pot, add the curry leaves and mustard seeds and allow them to sizzle for about one minute or until a few seeds pop.
Immediately add onions and saute until golden brown, about 8 minutes
Add tomatoes and remaining spices and saute for 8 minutes or until oil glistens on top.
Stir in coconut milk an d bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Add eggplant. Cover and simmer to five minutes. Add cauliflower and bell peppers, cover and simmer for another five minutes. Stir in cilantro
Serve over basmati rice.
1 kilogram lamb, cut into pieces
½ kilogram plain yogurt
2 teaspoons of salt (or to taste)
2 medium onions, ground in a food processor
2 bulbs garlic, peeled and ground
4 tablespoons oil
1 bay leaf
6 cloves
8 peppercorns
2 black cardamoms
4 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon grated coconut, soaked and ground
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, soaked and ground
6 tablespoons milk

Wash the meat and squeeze out all the water. Add the yogurt, salt, ground onions, garlic and mix thoroughly.
Heat oil on medium in a heavy-bottomed pot. When slightly smoking, add the bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns and cardamoms.
Add the chopped onions and fry until golden brown. When the onions are nicely brown, add the meat/yogurt mixture and keep stirring. Bring the heat to medium, cover the pot with a lid and let it simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cook until the lamb is almost tender. Add the coconut, poppy seeds and milk and bring to boil. Cook till the gravy thickens. If you like fruity flavours, you can add dried apricots or raisins as a little garnish. Serves 4 to 6.

One Response to “Vij-ions of nirvana”


  1. Indian Summer, Rockies style | Saucy Cherie - May 13, 2015

    […] This is a great partnership with an authentic connection: Vij worked in the Banff Springs’ kitchen in the early 1980s (wish our paths had crossed, but alas). Here’s his family chicken curry recipe. […]

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