Every now and then I binge on certain types of food. One that is always in my rotation is Indian food. Back in Boston I lived two blocks from a cute little Indian foodstuffs store. I used to buy spices and lentils and chickpeas -it was great. Then Indian food got pushed aside for the next obsession. I think it was sandwiches. And it’s been long, long while since I’ve wanted to make it again.
Sure, I’ve used curry powder or cumin to spice things, but I’ve not made a proper curry, or dal makhani, or, oh yum, chana masala. But it’s over now. It’s back! And I must say, this is one of the best curries I’ve made to date. The cauliflower I made is take it or leave it. I don’t even really want to give a recipe for it, but I’ll give a barebones one. You could even just add it to the curry, but I like side dishes personally.
This won’t be one of those recipes where you find yourself with a bunch of leftover ingredients and no idea how to use them. All of the spices I used, I just had laying around. Now, that might not be the case with everyone, but if you don’t have cardamom in your spice rack you should, because you can find tons of things to use it for – spiced coffee anyone?
for the marinade:
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 inch cube of ginger root, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder)
1 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (I didn’t have this, so I did about equal powdered)
1″ cinnamon (again, didn’t have, so I did about 1/2 teaspoon)
4 cloves (about a large 1/4 teaspoon)
2 cardamom pods (I used 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom)
1 – 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, cut into chunks
3 tablespoons butter or oil, divided
1 large onion, or 2 smaller, sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced not too thin
5 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt to taste
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup almond meal, or a paste made from 10 blanched almonds (optional, I’m not sure I could taste this)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cream (optional)
cilantro leaves, for garnish
1. In a mixing bowl, add yogurt. Press the diced ginger root in a garlic press into the bowl and empty pressed pieces into the bowl as well. Press the garlic too. Add spices and stir to mix. Add the chicken and stir to coat. You can marinade the chicken for as long as you want. I did a couple hours, but I’m sure less is fine.
2. In a dry pan, roast any seeds that you have for about 3 minutes, or until turning dark and are fragrant. Be careful not to burn – so turn and stir them frequently. If you any powdered spices, add them at the last minute and stir, stir, stir. Put the roasted spices in coffee grinder or spice mill and make a powder. You can obviously skip this last step if all you’re using is powdered spices.
3. Heat a tablespoon of butter or oil in a large pot. Add the onion and garlic slices. Saute for about 7 minutes or so, stirring frequently, until they brown.
4. Add the spice mix and water to the onion mixture. Using an immersion blender, make a paste. Alternatively, you can add all the ingredients into a blender. I just was feeling lazy and used my immersion blender. It works.
5. In a saute pan, heat a tablespoon of butter or oil and add the chicken. Don’t try to scrape all of the marinade out of the bowl. You can add that later. Cook the chicken for about 7-10 minutes, depending on the chunk size. Make sure to cook pretty well. You can simmer it in the pot to cook further, but better safe than sorry.
6. Heat another tablespoon of butter to the large pot. If you used a blender, add the onion mixture back to the pot and cook for 3 minutes. Add salt to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon), chili powder, and tomatoes. Cook for about 4 more minutes. Now, you can blend again if you want. I did, and I was extra thankful for the immersion blender here. I suppose you could also use a can of tomato sauce. Hm.
7. Add the chicken, remaining marinade, almond meal, water, and the optional cream to the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce is reduced some. Taste test and adjust your spices. I shook some extra coriander and a little garam masala in mine. But you can also do a rough reduced ratio of all the spices if you want it heavier. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
Cauliflower with Raisins
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup raisins
spices of your choice – I used poppy seeds, coriander, turmeric, paprika, and curry powder, but just plain curry powder would be fine
salt to taste
1. Heat the butter in a large saute pan. Add the cauliflower, raisins, and water and saute until tender. Add more water if necessary.
2. When the cauliflower is near done, the water should be running out. If you have too much in there, drain it out. Saute a little more, just to get some browned edges. Add the spices to taste and you’re done!