Thursday, November 17, 2005

Heaven on a plate

Most of my favorite foods are asian. And of those, most are curries of some kind. Tonight we had the missionaries for dinner and since I had already cooked all my easy, quick dishes that I had planned for this week (i.e. pancakes, spaghetti, etc.) I made Indian food. (Also I chose this dish because it is easy to double to provide lots of food for seconds and left overs: missionaries for dinner). Really this dish is easy to cook and fairly quick. It's just that most of the things I make I've made many times and don't have to follow the recipe anymore. Consulting the recipe adds a little time. But this dish is divine. Though it has red chiles in it, don't be afraid. It also has a lot of yogurt in it which tones down the bite a lot. So try it and see. Let me know what you think.

Chicken Makhani
from the complete indian cookbook

1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken cut into 2 inch cubes
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 large fresh red chiles, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. roasted cumin seeds, crushed (should be available at most grocery stores in the spice section)
1 tsp. garam masala (should be available at most grocery stores in the spice section)
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
5/8 cup plain yogurt (= 1/2 cup +1 1/2 tbsp.)

For sauce:
1- 10 3/4 oz. can tomato puree
4 tbsp butter
5/8 cup heavy cream

Place all ingredients for marinade in a blender or food processor and process until well blended into a paste. Add the chicken to the marinade and turn to coat evenly. Do this in either a nonmetallic bowl or a ziploc bag. Refrigerate for 3 hours. (I usually skip this step as I often don't plan ahead well enough. Still turns out great.)
While the chicken is sitting in the marinade, add the butter, cream, and a little salt to the tomato puree, and set it to simmer.
Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed saute pan. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, reserving the marinade and fry gently to seal them for about 5 minutes. Add the marindate to the pan, increase the heat and cook stirring frequently, for a further 12 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Reduce the heat and pour tomatoe puree over the chicken. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with a swirl of cream and a few cilantro sprigs.

Serve with basmati or jasmine rice.

To drastically simplify, skip the frying and marinading--just dump everything in the pan and cook until the chicken is tender. The flavor isn't quite as nuanced this way, but it takes out a ton of the work.

It is sometimes difficult to come up with complimentary side dishes. The indian sides I have tried haven't turned out right. So we either stop by the indian restaurant on the way home and buy some somosas for take out. Or I serve steamed vegetables on the side. Perhaps a tomato salad, some fresh pineapple...Enjoy. We did tonight.

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