Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Goan-Style Chicken with Roasted Coconut and Gujerati-Style Green Beans

I have been waiting to make this recipe for Goan-Style Chicken with Roasted Coconut for a long time.  The biggest deterrent to our making the dish was that I was never organized enough to have 2 cups of grated fresh coconut.  And then we saw bags of frozen grated fresh coconut at the Thai grocery store so I picked one up with this recipe in mind.  But it stayed in the freezer until I remembered it earlier this week and unearthed it.  These green beans were another recipe that I have been meaning to try.  A long time ago when I lived down the block from Kalustyans, we picked up Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking on the recommendation of one of the ladies manning the registers.  Our first meal that we made from the cookbook was Green Beans with Ginger and Cilantro and Lemony Chicken with Cilantro.  The chicken was good, but those green beans were a revelation.  Green beans are not a vegetable that I typically associate with Indian cooking.  When I think Indian I think lentils, chickpeas, eggplant, cauliflower and spinach.

Once again, Madhur Jaffrey's green beans were a revelation.  They were really delicious and easy to make.  I loved how the green beans remained crisp-tender, and soaked up the flavors of the garlic and red chili.  They were just so good.  And they went really nicely with the chicken.  I actually slightly preferred the green beans to the chicken (and I went back for seconds on the beans rather than the chicken), but Alex said that he enjoyed them both equally.  We used a mix of boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs for the Goan-Style Chicken and while I preferred the flavor of the breasts (I know, that doesn't make any sense because thighs are more flavorful) they were a little dry.  Meanwhile the chicken thighs just seemed greasy.  I'm weird like that.  The chicken smelled amazing while it cooked and the flavors lived up to the aroma.  It was also a really interesting and delicious combination of flavors - coconut, ginger, chili, coriander, cloves, cumin, etc.  I think the other thing that threw me about the chicken is that you spend all this time toasting the coconut to get it crispy and golden brown.  And then you throw it in a pan with a cup of water to essentially braise/steam the chicken and the coconut gets all soggy.  I think in the future I would reserve a little of the toasted coconut and spice mixture to use as a garnish.  The other thing that threw me was that the fully cooked mixture is a study in beige.  You can see it in the picture and it doesn't exactly look all that appetizing.  But appearances can be deceiving, because it is quite tasty.

Recipe after the jump!

Goan-Style Chicken with Roasted Coconut
Indian Cooking
By Madhur Jaffrey

1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1-inch cinnamon stick, broken into 3-4 pieces
4 cloves
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
about 1/6 of a whole nutmeg
1 dried, hot red chili (remove seeds if you want it mild)
2 cups grated fresh coconut
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2-1 fresh, hot green chili (we used a serrano)
1 1/2 cups water
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, peeled and minced
2 1/2 lbs chicken pieces, skinned
1 1/2 tsp salt

Put coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, nutmeg, and dried chili in a small, preferably cast-iron frying pan.  Place the pan over medium heat.  Now quickly "dry roast" the spices, stirring them frequently until they emit a very pleasant roasted aroma.  Empty the spices into a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder and grind until fine.  Take the spices out and put them in a bowl.

Put coconut in same frying pan and dry-roast over medium heat, stirring regularly.  The coconut should pick up lots of brown flecks and also smell roasted.  Put the coconut in the bowl with the other dry-roasted spices.

Put garlic, ginger, and green chili in a mini food processor or blender with 4 tbsp of water.  Blend until you have a paste.

Put oil in a 10-12 inch frying pan or saute pan and set over medium-high heat.  When hot, add onions.  Stir-fry until they pick up brown spots.  Now pour in the garlic-ginger mixture from the blender and stir once.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add chicken pieces and salt, as well as the spice-coconut mixture.  Stir-fry the chicken until it loses its pinkness and turns slightly brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Add 1 1/4 cups water and bring to simmer.  Cover tightly, turn heat to low, and cook until chicken is cooked through and tender, about 25-30 minutes.  Stir a few times during this cooking period, making sure that you turn over each piece of chicken.

Serve with basmati rice.

Gujerati-Style Green Beans
Indian Cooking
By Madhur Jaffrey

1 lb fresh green French beans
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
4 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
1/2-1 hot, dried red chili, coarsely crushed in a mortar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper

Trim the beans and cut them into 1-inch lengths. Blanch the beans by dropping them into a pot of boiling water and boiling rapidly for 3-4 minutes or until they are just tender. Drain immediately in a colander and rinse under cold, running water. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium flame. When hot, put in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, put in the garlic. Stir the garlic pieces around until they turn light brown. Put in the crushed red chili and stir for a few seconds. Put in the green beans, salt, and sugar. Stir to mix.

Turn the heat to medium-low. Stir and cook the beans for 7-8 minutes or until they have absorbed the flavor of the spices. Add the black pepper, mix, and serve.

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