Thursday, October 14, 2010

Country IX: India

I was a tad bit nervous about India day. I have never really liked Indian food, but I decided since this month was about being brave about food, we'd give it a shot anyway. I was browsing recipes, and nothing was grabbing my attention, and I had decided from the beginning that Tandoori Chicken with Naan bread was waaay to cliche. In the end I found a recipe for Murgh Makhani, or Butter Chicken. Now, the lady whose blog I got this recipe off of, stated in said blog that an Indian woman had told her that 'white people' love butter chicken.
I decided that was perfect. 
I could not find some of the ingredients in this recipe, so I kind of fudged it, and I'm glad to report that fudging it worked just fine. 
Now, I'm not putting many pictures up this time, because, though I took quite a few, I wasn't happy with hardly any of them. I'm working with a small, 10.2 MP camera and poor apartment lighting. Yes, I'm saving up for a good camera, but they aren't exactly cheap, so it might be a while :(. And my solution to the lighting problem is on it's way in the mail. More on that in another entry, mayhaps.
Anyway, first off, you marinade the chicken. The recipe called for a boneless chicken cut into pieces. I just used 1 1/5 chicken breasts and cut them into large chunks. The marinade also called for garlic and ginger paste. This could easily be made with a small food blender or mortar and pestle, but I have neither and since my food processor was much to large, I just very finely chopped up even amounts of ginger and garlic. Mix that with yogurt, salt, chili powder, and oil and marinade the chicken in it for 4 hours. 
Then you just put the chicken in a broiler pan under the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes until it gets a nice brown color. I didn't have a broiler pan either, so I improvised with a metal cooling rack and baking sheet (yes, it's truly awful, but it worked, right?):

Set those aside for later. Now, the recipe called for cardamom pods...I couldn't find those anywhere, and something tells me I couldn't afford them even if I had. So I substituted cardamom powder and tweaked the cooking steps a little bit. 
Heat some oil in a deep skillet and cook your cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods (if you have them), whole cloves, and bay leaves for 2 minutes. Then add the ginger and chilies (this is also when I added the cardamom powder) and cook for 1 minute. 
It's going to look very pretty in the skillet and it's smells wonderful. 

After that add the can of whole tomatoes, honey, tomato paste and some water and simmer for a while. By the way, you simmer this uncovered, so it's going to pop just a little here and there, and your stove top is going to be covered in little red polka dots. 
Right, so after it's done simmering, sift through it with some tongs and get out the cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Throw those away. Dump the remaining mixture in the food processor and blend it until it's smooth. Return it to the pan. Now here is where, according to the recipe you add the dried fenugreek and cashew paste. Yup, you guessed it, couldn't find any dried fenugreek. I really need to move to a more foodie-oriented town. I substituted about 1/2 tsp of celery seed. I made a cashew paste of sorts by finely chopping some cashews and mixing them with a little water. Again, a mortar and pestle or mini food blender would work great here, but that's why being creative is a good thing :). Anyway, add that to the pan and salt to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and set aside. 
Now, here's where the butter comes in. Melt 1 Tbs. in the skillet and add the chicken and some cashews. I added more cashews then were called for simply because I like them. Cook those for 3 minutes. Then add the sauce and 1/4 cup heavy cream. I also added more cream than called for because I wanted to tone down the heat of the chilies a tad....and because I like it. Cook that 3 minutes. Then remove from the heat and toss in 3 1/2 Tbs. of butter and stir it until the butter melts. 
Now, traditionally, this would be served with Naan, an Indian grilled flat-bread, which is very good, but I didn't have the time to make it...or a grill. But mostly because of the time.
Instead I used what I had. What I had happened to be couscous. Yes, it's kind of weird, but it turned out to be a perfect compliment to the sauce of the chicken. 
DH really liked this recipe. It was kind of spicy, and I have very little tolerance for anything spicy, but this was so good, I ate it anyway. Then I ate some of the leftovers after I got home from work. This one is another keeper recipe for sure. 

Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

1 lb. boneless chicken, cut into pieces
3 1/2 Tbs. garlic and ginger paste
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 Tbs. chili powder
1/2 Tbs. oil
Mix marinade ingredients and add chicken to completely coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Heat oven broiler. Spread chicken in one layer on a the tray in a broiler pan and put under the heat for 5 to 10 minutes until the outside is well browned.

3 Tbs. oil
4 cinnamon sticks
5 cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
5 whole green chilies
1 14 oz. can whole tomatoes
1 Tbs. honey
1/2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 tsp. dried fenugreek leaves, ground
3 1/2 Tbs. cashews, ground with a little water to make a paste
Salt, to taste
Heat oil to medium heat then add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves and cook for 2 minutes. Add ginger and chilies and cook 1 minutes. Add tomatoes, honey, tomato paste, and 1/3 cup water and simmer for 20 minutes, until the whole tomatoes break down and thicken. Remove and discard the cardamom, cloves bay leaves and cinnamon and blend remaining mixture in a food processor until smooth. Return to pan and add fenugreek and cashew paste. Salt to taste and simmer 10 minutes.

1 Tbs. butter
Cooked chicken
1 Tbs. cashews
Prepared sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 Tbs. butter

Melt 1 Tbs. butter in pan, add chicken and cashews and fry for 3 minutes. Cover with sauce and cream and simmer for 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 3 1/2 Tbs. butter until it melts.

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