Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Indian Experiment Part 2

Some time ago I decided to make it a point to try my hand at Indian cooking. So far, that has included only one dish, tandoori chicken. I'm nowhere near done yet- still tons to learn about and master. So many spices and flavors to discover and new ways to prepare things. So here I am, finding myself researching recipes and trying to find ways to best use the ingredients I have on hand. Since I stocked up on almost everything in the spice category, it's pretty safe to say I'm prepared for just about any recipe. No bugs though. And no monkey brains. I always say no to bugs and monkey brains. I may have an adventurous palate but I am nooooo Indiana Jones at a time like this.

Butter chicken, also known as murg makhani, will be my next experiment. Probably one of the most popular dishes, this comes from the Punjab region and can be as mild or as hot as the cook decides.  Mine will not be the burn-your-face-off searing heat many Indian dishes are known for, but a pretty intense blend of flavors, and aromas. The spices cooked briefly in the melted butter is just enough to make the whole house smell wonderful. Poor planning on my part landed Indian night on a weeknight, so I won't have time to play with dough and make pita or naan this time either, darnit. I bet it would have been great for sopping up the creamy, spicy sauce. This dish is often served with lentils, but I think I am going to stick with rice.

The more I get to reading and researching these new foods, the more I find I want to make. In a perfect world I would spend all day cooking and playing with food. If only I had all the time I wanted and an endless supply of ingredients...... a girl can dream though, right?

***Please note, I did not "invent" this recipe, but based it on's version. I did make a few changes based on ingredients I had on hand, but the result was fantastic. So let's get cooking.

What you need:

2 tb oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
3 tb butter
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tb fresh grated ginger
several dashes chili powder
1 cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods, slightly bruised
1 can tomato puree
1 tb sugar
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tb lemon juice

The method:

Heat oil in large wok or skillet. Add chicken and cook until nicely browned. You may need to do it two batches using 1 tb oil per batch. Remove to bowl and set aside. Reduce heat and add butter to wok. Add all spices to butter and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about a minute.  Return chicken to wok and stir to coat with spices. Add tomatoes and sugar, simmer for 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for a few more minutes until thickened. Serve over rice. (Make sure to fish out the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods- you don't want to eat those)

I'm so in love with fresh summer squash stir fried with Indian seasonings that again I went with that as a side. I have only made one other Indian dish so it can't technically be called a "rut" just yet. I like the mildness of the squash compared to the bold flavor of the entree- I don't have a plate full of competing flavors, which is more important to me. Concentrate on ONE dish and do it really well, and try a new side later, maybe when I have a couple extra hours for bread-making as well. 

Anyway, this dish really did come together very quickly, which is perfect for a weeknight when you don't want to spend the whole evening in the kitchen. It's basically a one-pot entree as well. If you are one of those super organized cooks, you can pre-prep just about everything- cut up the chicken, vegetables, mix the spices ahead of time. Then it's just a matter of heat, dump, saute and simmer. Done! Convenience food that's actually GOOD for you! I think we might be on to something here!

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