Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cardamom and Black Pepper Chicken

This chicken is delicious.  Super delicious.  And so was the cauliflower.  I know I usually babble on for awhile about how I chose the recipe, etc., but this time I just had to say something about how good the chicken was before I babbled.  Now on to the babbling.

The only Indian cookbook I have ever owned is by Madhur Jaffrey.  Several years ago when I first moved to NYC, I visited Kalustyans and asked the Indian ladies working there for a recommendation on a good Indian cookbook.  They pointed out Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey in a split second.  So I bought it.  And all of the recipes I have tried from it (with the exception of one) have been delicious.  So at the library the other day I saw another one of Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks, From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail so I checked it out.  And then proceeded to go through the cookbook, flagging all of the recipes I wanted to try.  This recipe for Cardamom and Black Pepper Chicken was one of the ones that first caught my eye.  And then I thought while I was at it, I should try one of the cauliflower recipes that had also caught my eye.  So our meal of Cardamom and Black Pepper Chicken with Quick Cauliflower Bhaji was born.  I also served it with plain basmati rice and naan (not homemade unfortunately).  Yum.  Both the chicken and the cauliflower had some spice to them, but not an overwhelming amount.  The heat level was lingering and meshed well with the various spices, cumin and coriander in particular.  In the case of the chicken, the spice was additionally balanced against the perfume of the cardamom, the sweetness of the cinnamon, and the tang of the fresh lemon juice.  Very tasty.  I considered making some cilantro chutney with the meal to give it some additional freshness and color, but decided against it.  In the future I might top the chicken with some roughly chopped cilantro because I just love cilantro and otherwise the meal is a study in beige, but it certainly didn't need it flavor-wise. 

Alex kept stopping mid-bite and saying how pleased he was with the meal.  You know it's good when your husband stopped eating long enough to compliment you and/or your food.  Several times.  What can I say?  I'm just that good.  Or Madhur Jaffrey is.

Recipes after the jump!

Cardamom and Black Pepper Chicken
From Curries to Kebabs:  Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail
By Madhur Jaffrey

6 tbsp onion, finely chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices
3 tbsp peanut oil
1 stick cinnamon
8 whole cardamom pods
1 cup onion, sliced into fine half-rings
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
4 tbsp Greek yogurt
5 tbsp grated tomato
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garam masala
2-3 tsp lemon juice

To make the marinade, put 6 tbsp onion, ginger, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, cayenne, black pepper, and 3 tbsp water into a blender or food processor.  Blend mixture to a smooth paste, using a rubber spatula to scrape the walls of the blender or bowl as necessary.  Put the sliced chicken in a bowl.  Add the marinade and mix well, making sure to coat each piece of chicken in the paste.  Cover and refrigerate for between 30 minutes and 3 hours.

Heat a wide, non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Add oil.  When oil is screaming hot, but not smoking, add the cinnamon and cardamom.  Stir for 10 seconds.  Add the 1 cup onions and dry, stirring regularly, until the onion turns dark reddish-brown, about 6-7 minutes.  Add the cumin and coriander.  Stir once to combine.  Add the yogurt, 1 tbsp at a time, and stir until fully absorbed.  Add the grated tomato and fry for one minute.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the chicken, together with its marinade, and cook, stirring, until all of the chicken pieces turn opaque, about 3-4 minutes.  Add 3/4 cup water, 1 tsp salt and garam masala.  Stir mixture to combine.  Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Once chicken is fully cooked, add lemon juice.  Stir to combine.

Serve immediately with basmati rice.

Quick Cauliflower "Bhaji" (Gobi Ki Bhaja)
From Curries to Kebabs:  Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail
By Madhur Jaffrey

1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp corn, peanut or olive oil
1/2 tsp whole mustard seeds
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
2 whole dried, hot, red chilis
1-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into thin slivers
4 cups cauliflower florets (2 inches long, and no wider than 1 1/2 inches)
1/2 cup tomato, peeled and finely chopped

Put coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl.  Add 4 tbsp water and mix.  Set aside.

Heat a large saute pan with a lid over medium-high heat.  Add oil.  Once oil is hot, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and chilis.  Once the mustard seeds begin to pop, about 10 seconds, add ginger.  Stir fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add cauliflower.  Fry the cauliflower, stirring occasionally, until it starts to turn brown in places, about 2-4 minutes.  Stir in the spice paste, cover, and reduce the heat to low.  Cook cauliflower over low heat for 6 minutes.  Add tomatoes.  Replace the lid, and cook until the cauliflower is just tender, about 6 minutes more.

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