It’s weird that I should be thinking of India now; in the middle of January, during this hot and humid Argentine summer.
Perhaps it’s the weather; there is a sticky humidity in the air that reminds me of, but more than that, transports me directly back to that September in 2009, five long amazing years ago. Or perhaps it is because right now, just as it was back then when I was visiting India on a work trip, it was the beginning of change.
I remember India in all its colorful vividness – the rush of hot, thick air that gushed into my face as I stepped off the airplane and out of the airport; the feeling of being overwhelmed as I saw hundreds of dark, anxious faces awaiting their loved ones’ arrivals; the chaos of men and animals coexisting alongside each other.
India has a charm that repels yet draws you in at the same exact moment.
There is a constant vibration of life all throughout the country; in the same way that evidence of poverty permeates every inch of this amazing country.
Miles of slums stand proudly next to imposing five-star hotels; expensive cars ride next to rickshaws and tuk-tuks, and everywhere you turn there is further proof of the great divide between the distinct social castes. From the highest Brahmin caste to the lowest level “untouchables” and everyone else in between, it’s one giant mix of differences.
The one thing that unites them and makes India what it is, is the heart-throbbing pulse that you get; the never ending sounds that fill the place – constant chatter in Indian dialects I will never understand; everyone shaking their heads as they speak too quickly; cars tooting their horns every few minutes just to say “hello”; and the noises of the city that never go to sleep. Food-wise, India is a haven of countless spices and mixes of curries that will leave you dizzy; as colorful as the saris the lovely women wear, and as varied as the languages they speak.
It was in this breathtaking, thought-inspiring and contrast-rich country, where I first made the decision to move to Argentina.
Juan and I had just had a long Skype conversation, during which we admitted that the long-distance relationship we had between Argentina and Singapore was being strained by the physical distance. One of us would have to move, and because Juan was still fresh out of school without any work experience, we agreed that practically speaking, it would make more sense for me to uproot myself from Singapore and move to Buenos Aires.
It’s crazy to think that a Skype conversation five years ago would have me living in Argentina, and five years later, in the first peeks of 2014, looking back at those memories fills me with deep nostalgia.
Today, I’m fortunate to be by Juan’s side, as we think about which countries our feet would like to tread next, and in which city we would like to call our next home. To be brutally honest with you, we aren’t able to see very far off into this year; where we’ll be is still a mystery. But I’m holding on to the tight hope that we’ll come to a convinced decision soon, a middle ground for both of us.
Perhaps it is thinking of all these large life decisions that we have to make and recalling those beautifully intense India days, but there is a strong urge for India’s permeating flavors to fill my kitchen.
I don’t know very much about Indian spices, but I crave the taste of yellow curry stained with curcuma every once in a while.
And so this led to the birth of a tart – part Western part Asian; a fusion, a mix of ingredients and tastes.
This is a tart that is rich and satisfying – bursting with intense flavors and texture.
I love that it feels Western but Asian as the very same time; just like the giant bursts of contrasts of India and its people. And it’s color, a bright yellow, is vibrant and full of life.
I hope you’ll like this tart as much as I did.
CURRIED CHICKEN TART
For the tart shell:
1) 200g of all-purpose flour (or whole grain flour)
2) 100g of butter, cubed
3) 100g of water
4) 1 egg yolk
5) A pinch of salt
For the curried chicken filling:
1) 1 chicken breast, skin removed and boiled until cooked through, then shredded
2) 1 large onion, diced
3) 1 tablespoon of curry powder (or more depending on how spicy you like it)
4) ½ cup of milk cream
5) Salt & pepper to taste
1) Mix flour, salt and butter together, adding the yolk and a bit of water at a time to incorporate the ingredients until you get a dough that’s neither too dry nor sticky (if too sticky, add a little bit of flour; if too dry, add a bit more water)
2) Without kneading too much, form the dough into a small disc, cover with plastic wrap, and let it chill for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator
3) As dough is chilling, cook the chicken breast in generously salted boiling water, then when chicken is cooked through, shred it using a fork
4) Peel and dice the onion and saute in a saucepan until golden and caramelized
5) Mix caramelized onions, shredded chicken, cream and curry powder in a large bowl
6) Add salt and pepper to taste
7) Pre-heat oven to 180 deg cel
8) After dough has chilled, remove from refrigerator. Sprinkle flour generously over a flat, cool surface, and place dough on top.
9) Use a floured wooden rolling pin to pat down the dough, the roll it vertically & horizontally to expand the circle, before rolling it outwards in 360 degrees until it is large enough to cover both the base and height of the tart mould
10) Grease the tart mold with either butter or cooking oil
11) Gently place the rolled dough over the tart mold, making sure to fit it well, and then use a fork to poke holes in it (so the dough doesn’t inflate when it bakes)
12) Pre-cook tart shell slightly in the oven for 10 minutes
13) Once tart shell has been pre-cooked, fill it with the chicken mixture and bake some more until shell turns golden brown
14) Serve tart warm with a side of salad
*Note: To make this tart Paleo, you can substitute the tart shell recipe given above for a grain free one.