There is nothing quite like Indian food to make the house smell like heaven. My kind of heaven, anyway. Tonight I made “Chicken with Indian Spices” from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, along with some Basmati rice and Indian-spiced acorn squash. I will confess that I was put off by the fact the yogurt essentially curdled during cooking, and the sauce looked pretty awful when it was done; I put it in the blender to smooth it out, and it was much pleasanter to look at. I also found that the bone-in chicken pieces (particularly the white meant) were still a bit on the chewy side, possibly because of their size. They were also difficult to eat – I didn’t want to eat the skin, and needed to get the meat off the bone, and in the process of meeting those goals I lost a lot of precious sauce. (The sauce was GREAT, and i would eat it by the spoonful). Next time, I think I’ll use cubes of boneless thigh or breast meat in place of the whole, bone-in chicken parts, and shorten the cooking time accordingly.
I invented the squash preparation. I have no idea whether squash is part of the cuisine of any part of India (and I am too tired to Google it at the moment) but it went beautifully with the rice and chicken.
Chicken with Indian Spices and Yogurt
(From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)
4 Tablespoons peanut, canola or other oil
About 1 cup flour for dredging
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 whole (3-4 pound chicken, cut up (legs cut in two) trimmed of excess fat, then rinsed and patted dry (or 3-4 pounds cubed boneless skinless breasts or thighs)
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups plain yogurt
Minced cilantro leaves for garnish (I had these, but forgot about them)
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet, Dutch oven, or casserole. Put flour on a plate or in a shallow bowl and season it with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot (a pinch of flour will sizzle) dredge the chicken pieces in the flour and shake off any excess, (If using cubed chicken, you can easily do this in a zip-top plastic bag). Add chicken to oil, and brown on all sides. Regulate the heat so that the oil bubbles but is not so hot that it will burn the chicken. (you can skip this browning step if you like, and go directly to cooking the onions).
- When the chicken is nicely browned, remove it from the skillet and pour off all but a couple of tablespoons of oil. Turn heat to medium, and add thge onion along with some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until they soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger and spices along with an additional 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Cook with the onions, stirring, until vert aromatic, about 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in thge yogurt, then add the chicken pieces. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, turning the pieces every 5 minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. (If you use cubed chicken, stir every five minutes and start checking for done-ness at around 15 minutes).
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Garnish and serve. (If you find that your sauce has curdled, puree it to smootheness using a stand or immersion blender)
Squash with Indian Flair
1 acorn squash
2-3 Tablespoons butter
1-2 Tablespoons Garam Masala
- Cut squash in half and microwave about 10 minutes, or until flesh is tender when pierced with a fork.
- Cool squash and scoop out of shell, into medium saucepan.
- Add butter and Garam Masala to squash and mix with a fork until no large lumps remain. Heat over medium heat until butter melts and all ingredients are well combined. If you like, you may puree this before serving,