My favorite type of food to cook is...?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chicken + India = GOOD!

Its easy to be intimidated by Indian cooking. By North American standards the food can seem strange. Strong flavors and strange ingredients that are hard to spell and pronounce! But once you get your mind past the different tastes, Indian food is an amazing experience that can have new flavors and ideas become staples in your kitchen.

I think best way to introduce your family to Indian cooking is to buy the pre-made sauces from grocery stores. They come in a wide variety of flavors and are not too expensive. I once asked an Indian fellow who worked with me at a grocery store how authentic these sauces were. He picked one up and read the ingredients. Aside from the preservatives, he said, it was pretty close. So browse through the Indian sauces and pick a couple that you like. Once you have a favorite or two, look for a recipe to make that sauce from scratch. You'll find these sauces not that difficult to make and the best part is be able to tweak the recipe to suit your tastes. Below are recipes for two favorite Indian chicken dishes...butter chicken and chicken korma.

Chicken Korma

2.5 pounds chicken thighs, boneless, skinless and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup safflower oil
1/4 cup butter
6 medium yellow onions, diced fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tbs ginger, freshly grated
2 tsp ground cardamom
5 bay leaves
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp coriander (ground)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 tbsp medium curry powder (or more to taste)
8 oz plain yogurt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup coconut milk (sweetened)

Directions: Cut the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and set aside. In a big fry pan that has a lid, heat the butter and oil over med-high heat, then sauté the onions and garlic for about 10 minutes, until slightly browned. Add the ginger, bay leaves, and salt.Sauté until the onions are nice and brown, about 5 more minutes. Mix the coriander and red pepper with the yogurt. Add the yogurt to the fry pan, stirring as you pour. When the yogurt is cooked, add the chicken pieces and brown them. Add 1/2 cup water, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and turn off the heat. Let it sit a few minutes to let the flavors come together. Take out the bay leaves. Serve with rice and naan bread. Serves 4.

Butter Chicken

For the seasoning:
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained of juices
3 pounds boneless skin chicken pieces (thigh, breast..etc) into 1 1/2 by 1/2-inch chunks
400g frozen peas (optional)
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:Stir the spice blend ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Brown chicken pieces in large non-stick skillet with 1tbsp oil until cooked about halfway. Remove chicken. Melt the butter into skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the pieces just begin to turn gold. Add the garlic, tomato paste and spice blend, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning.Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and stir will. Add the chicken pieces, spoon the sauce over the top and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is flavorful, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently. Add cream to the sauce. If adding peas run hot water over them to thaw and add to pan. Continue simmering until peas are heated through. Serve with naan bread, pita or basmati rice. Serves 6.

See? Not so tough is it? And the best thing is how delicious they taste. Even my 3 year old gobbles down these Indian chicken dishes!


Park Food Dude

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