Cooking with Lady Smokey: Asian Influenced Southern Cooking

I’m sure many people have explored this concept with much more depth. Although we have been cooking Thai food at home for a long time now, I just recently got interested enough in Indian food to start wanting to try to cook some at home and honestly, so far haven’t followed a single recipe so it’s all just a vague concept in my head at this point, which is why I thought of Garam Masala Fried Chicken (below). It seemed like a great mix of one of my favorite southern dishes and one of the easiest Indian spice blends to cook with.

What I do know, though, is we still have tons of basil in the garden. I’ve been considering changing my personal cooking blog into an herb blog! All summer, I am continually trying to find some new ways to incorporate that basil into our meals. This first recipe was one I came up with last year and wanted to make again. It uses the Thai Purple Basil and was so delicious on vegetables, over grilled chicken or salmon.

Thai Pesto
• Thai Basil (the purple leaves)
• Lemon Basil
• Cilantro
• 1-3 Cloves of Garlic (I used one big one)
• Red Pepper Flakes
• Olive Oil
• Sea Salt

I did not include measurements because it isn’t exact and can be very flexible. I just used a small bowl of thai basil, a small handful of the lemon basil, and a handful of cilantro. I only used as much olive oil needed to keep it all wet and keep my little grinder happy. Add sea salt and red pepper flakes to taste. You can store this in a jar in the refrigerator for days. I have even frozen it before. It holds up well.

(I made quite an elaborate salad with it last year and posted on my blog over here.)

And then here’s that Fried Chicken recipe I was talking about. It seems Garam Masala is often sold in a larger-than-usual spice jar so I have used it in several other dishes lately. I threw some (with chopped basil and cilantro) over pan roasted potatoes with onions and peppers. It was delicious. And to make that meal complete, I threw an egg on top!

The spices combined to make Garam Masala are- black pepper, bay leaves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, pimento, cloves, cardamom, and coriander. I’m thinking next up will be Garam Masala Cookies? I’m sure someone has done that.

Garam Masala Fried Chicken (or Tofu)
• 4 Chicken Thighs (or breasts)

For the Chicken Brine:
• Buttermilk (enough to cover the chicken)
• Sprinkle of Garlic Powder
• Sprinkle of Chili Powder
• Sprinkle of Cayenne Pepper
• 1 tsp. grated Fresh Ginger (or sprinkle in some powdered)
• 1 tsp grated fresh Fresh Turmeric (or sprinkle in a little powdered)
• Garam Masala (about 2 Tbsp probably)

For the Flour/ Dredging Mixture:
• 1 ½ cups All Purpose Flour
• 2 Tbsp Garam Masala
• 1 tsp Garlic Powder
• 1 tsp Paprika
• 1 tsp Turmeric
• ½ tsp Cinnamon
• Sea Salt
• Black Pepper
• For the Frying Pan:
• Grapeseed Oil
• To Sprinkle on Top: Chopped Basil & Cilantro

So, simply mix all the brine ingredients together and then soak the chicken in it for an hour or more. Mix all the dredge ingredients together.

Heat a large skillet on medium. Put about ½” grapeseed oil in the pan. Pull the chicken out of the brine and let the excess drain off for a minute. Then dredge it in the flour mixture. Salt & pepper lightly as you fry it up. Get each side nice and golden brown before you flip each piece over.

If it isn’t cooking fast enough and getting the inside done enough, you can turn it down a little bit and cover for a few minutes. My Grandmother used to do that. I served the fried chicken with a simple stir fry of some southern veggies- okra, green beans, corn, and tomatoes. I finished them with chopped garlic, a finely chopped serrano pepper, and a squirt of lemon.

And, for all those who don’t eat chicken, I tried this recipe with tofu, too. It was delicious!

Fried Garam Masala Tofu

Don’t get me wrong, I fully know this wasn’t a “healthy” dish but, it was a nasty-good meatless meal and a good substitute if you are craving fried chicken but no longer eat meat. I did dip the tofu in an egg-buttermilk mixture (instead of soaking it in the brine) before covering it with the flour-garam masala mixture, but you could easily skip that step to make it healthier. I also used grapeseed oil which holds up to heat well and seems a little bit of a healthier option than what is most often used to fry chicken.

Fried Garam Masala Tofu server with Turmeric Ginger Noodles

So, I couldn’t think of an Asian/Southern band to write about here to keep with my theme. However, our friend Otis Gibbs is pretty awesome and has about a week left for his Kickstarter campaign. I thought it would be great to share it with you.

Otis is an incredible songwriter, very hard-working musician (he travels and tours all the time and has many albums which you can purchase here), a wonderful photographer (you can see more of his art here), he also records podcasts with interviews of other musicians that are very entertaining, and his partner Amy Lashley is super talented as well.

Check out his Kickstarter and pitch in. It feels good to help make someone’s art more accessible to the rest of the world. And be sure to catch his live show if you see him coming through your town.

I will close with this video for his song, “Made To Break.”

Happy Eating and go listen to some music!

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