Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Indian Chicken with Tomatoes and Garam Masala

If you're like me, you looooove curry. Indian food tastes like heaven to me, and I love to cook it at home, because only then do you appreciate the delicacy of the flavor balance in Indian cooking, and how to add the spices in intervals to bring out the full depth of flavor in each one. This is a chicken curry recipe that I got from a Madhur Jaffrey Indian cookbook that was given to me by my college roommates for my birthday years ago. I've adapted it slightly over the years, but the flavors in this one are so good that you don't want to mess with it too much! This is not a very curry-heavy curry; there's no curry powder, so if there's someone you know who is wary of Indian food, just don't call this a curry. The flavors are very distinct, and they make for a chicken dish that can be mild or spicy, depending on your tastes. This originally called for whole peppercorns, but I found that, while the flavor was great with them, they'd make for some rather surprised, and sometimes pained, facial expressions around the dinner table, so I usually just use ground pepper instead. The longer you let it simmer, the better and more flavorful this will be. Delicious and naturally gluten- and dairy-free!

Indian Chicken with Tomatoes and Garam Masala

5 tbsp. vegetable oil
3/4 tsp. cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
1 inch cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. peppercorns or ground pepper
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
6-7 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch cube fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 lb fresh tomatoes, finely chopped and peeled
2 - 3 lbs chicken pieces, skinned and chopped into bite-size chunks
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp. garam masala

Heat the oil in a large pot; when hot, put in cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Stir once, quickly, and then stir in onions, garlic and ginger. Sauté, stirring, until the onions have brown specks. Then put in the tomatoes, chicken, salt and cayenne pepper, stirring to mix. Bring the whole thing to a boil and cover tightly, reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 min until chicken is tender. If you want a stronger tomato flavor or want to thicken the sauce up, you can add tomato paste. Stir occasionally. Remove cover and turn up heat to medium; add garam masala and stir for 5 minutes to reduce water content. Add more garam masala to taste, if desired. Serve over basmati rice or with Indian bread.

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