Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recipe: Chicken Masala

I’ve had serious cravings for Indian food lately.  There’s just something about the cool fall weather that makes me want to get into the kitchen and cook plenty of belly-warming, richly-spiced dishes.  

I recently spent an entire Sunday morning leafing through various Indian cookbooks and on-line recipes until I determined exactly what I was craving.  I decided to make two big-batch dishes – a south-Indian style vegetable curry with coconut milk, cauliflower & root vegetables, as well as a butter chicken dish of sorts, with more subtle Indian flavours.

If you aren’t all that familiar with Indian food, but you’d like to try your hand at preparing something, this dish is an ideal one to start with.  It contains garam masala which means “hot mixture” in Hindi.

This Indian spice blend is usually used for finishing dishes but despite the name, garam masala is not especially spicy.  In fact, the "hot" may refer to the fact that the spices are toasted before grinding (but I’ll be honest and tell you that I usually cheat and buy the bagged, pre-ground version).

My husband David remarked that this dish tastes like an Indian version of a creamy rose (tomato-cream) pasta sauce, and he agreed that it would be pleasing to a “beginner” who might be a bit wary of Indian Food.

Chicken Masala
serves 4-6

·        4 (four) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into 1 inch cubes
(OR use one  whole rotisserie deli chicken, skin removed and chopped into small pieces), set aside
·        6 (six) tablespoons butter, divided
·        4 (four) cloves garlic, minced
·        3 (three) small shallots, peeled and finely chopped
·        2 (two), 28 (twenty-eight) oz. cans whole tomatoes in puree, reserve juices
·        1 (one) teaspoon garam masala spice blend (found in the spices/baking sections of most grocery stores)
·        3 (three) tablespoons ground cashews
·        ½ (one-half) cup heavy whipping cream
·        salt and pepper to taste
·        ¼ (one-quarter) cup chopped fresh cilantro
·        brown or white basmati rice, for serving

1.      Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add four tablespoons of the butter and once melted and foamy (but do not let brown), add the shallots and garlic. Turn heat down to low and cook until shallots/garlic have softened and are golden brown in colour, about 7 minutes.  Increase temperature slightly if the process is taking too long.
2.      Meanwhile, puree the whole tomatoes in a blender (reserve juice in cans).  Add to the browned garlic/shallot mixture and stir well to combine. Add salt, pepper and garam masala and cook for about 12-15 minutes or until the sauce is quite thick.  Then, turn off the heat, add the ground cashews and heavy cream and stir well (note: if the sauce is too thick for your liking, add a bit of the reserved tomato juice from the cans until the desired consistency is reached).
3.      Add in the cooked chicken pieces. Return to heat and cook on medium low for an additional 5-7 minutes, to allow the flavours to mingle.
4.      Serve over basmati rice, with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro.

No comments:

catering, gourmet food shop, gift baskets