Sunday, May 31, 2009

Favorite Chicken Curry of the Moment

Unfortunately my downstairs Indian neighbors have vanished. They left as mysteriously as they came. No moving truck, cars, or furniture. Poof. Vanished. Now I no longer come home to the sweet smells of their bustling little kitchen. Indirectly thanks to them, I am now better in the kitchen when it comes to Indian dishes. My new downstairs neighbors may now be tempted with the smells of curry from my upstairs kitchen.

This recipe has been tweaked a little based on my own trials and errors. I've gotten in the habit of pureeing all the base ingredients to improve the texture and richness. Ever since an incredible korma I had in Atlanta, I'm also hooked on adding golden raisins and almonds for a whole different experience.

Favorite Chicken Curry
adapted from My Husband Cooks

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of some fat and veins
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 tblsp curry powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
3 cloves garlic
1 tblsp fresh ginger
1 serrano pepper (jalapeno works as well)

1 tblsp + 1 tsp curry powder (use a hot curry powder if you like more heat)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon

14 oz can coconut milk
1 onion, chopped
2 serrano peppers, chopped (or jalapeno)
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth)
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup golden raisins
fresh cilantro

Don't be too frightened by the ingredients list! First marinade the chicken. Put all the pieces in a large ziploc bag and add the yogurt. In a food processor blend the first set of ingredients. Pour the puree into the ziploc bag and mix everything together to coat the chicken thoroughly. Let chicken marinade over night or for however long you have to spare.

When you're ready to cook, take the chicken out of the marinade and shake off the excess. If you have a grill, grill the chicken to simulate the tandoori oven. If not, cook the chicken under the broiler, pouring off excess fat to prevent the future sauce being too oily.

In a small bowl, combine the spice mix. Set aside.

In a large pot, using a neutral oil like ghee or some butter, saute the onion, peppers, and garlic until just soft and slightly caramelized. Once soft, remove the saute and puree in a food processor until you have a nice paste. Return the paste to the pot and stir in the spice mix. Cook for no more than a minute then pour in the wine (or broth) and scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pot. Once the wine reduces, add the can of coconut milk and stir to combine.

Let this simmer for several minutes on low heat so it thickens nicely. After 10 minutes add the raisins, almonds, a little cilantro. If the chicken is done you can either chop it into pieces or place it whole in the pot. Stir around at a low simmer so the flavors come together. Add salt to taste. Serve piping hot over some rice or with naan.

Note: This makes a ton of thick, delicious sauce. Save the leftover sauce for another meal. Serve it over cauliflower, paneer, or whatever other leftovers for a real treat. The raisins will zing as they pop in your mouth.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tired of Takeout

I'll be honest. I haven't been cooking much lately. It has gotten so bad that our favorite takeout guys recognize me on the street. They know where I live! I'm slowly coming back around. I just had some minor set backs. There was that week long illness that may or may not have been swine flu, the mysterious poison sumac incident, a bit of traveling, and don't forget about the 30 inches of rain.

This simple tofu dish can be made with ingredients you probably already have on hand. Replace the tofu with another protein if you prefer. You can throw this dinner together faster than that familiar takeout boy can make it to your door.

Sweet and Sour Tofu
adapted from Serious Eats

1 package (14-ounce) firm tofu
1 red onion, halved and sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 jalapeƱo pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 tblsp white wine vinegar
3 tblsp soy sauce
1 tblsp honey
1 tblsp brown sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Drain the tofu with a heavy dish on top with paper towels for at least half an hour, changing the paper towels now and then. The drier, the better. Slice the tofu into small cubes and fry them in a bit of oil until browned on all sides. Add the onion, peppers, and garlic and cook until just soft, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl combine 1/3 cup hot water with the vinegar, soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, cornstarch, and red pepper flakes. Pour this sauce over the tofu once the vegetables have softened and let it thicken for a minute or two. Serve with rice.