I adore Indian food. But Indian restaurants generally use enormous amounts of oil, and so eating at them has become a very seldomly indulged in treat. I recently bought the cookbook 600 Curries by Raghavan Iyer, loaded with an amazing variety of recipes. http://www.amazon.com/660-Curries-Raghavan-Iyer/dp/0761137874/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254572254&sr=1-1 He has cut down on a lot of the oil in traditional recipes, but still insists on the techniques of roasting and grinding fresh spices. If you thought all Indian food tasted and looked the same, you're in for a revelation. There are several large Indian grocery stores in neighboring Waltham, so a shopping trip and an inexpensive spice grinder will give me lots of opportunities to explore the cookbook further. Yum.
I made his Chicken with Chilis and Coconut last night, but added vegetables to the mixture,, simplified a bit, and cut the oil even further. It was fantastic, with layers of flavor. I served it with a minty raita, roasted cauliflower with cumin, and brown rice. I used a shortcut with some of the spices, using a wonderful fresh curry blend I bought at the Indian grocery.
Chicken and Vegetables with Chilis and Coconut
1 large onion, divided in half, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 jalapeno chilis, seeded
1 Tbs. good quality, fresh curry powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 cut-up chicken, kosher or natural
1 Tbs. garam masala (Indian spice blend)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 can coconut milk, "light" or regular (I used light)
2 cups fresh green beans, cut in half
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 sweet potato, peeled, halved, and cut into slices
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1. In a food processor, process the 1/2 chopped onion (save the other half), garlic, ginger, chili, curry and turmeric until its a thick paste.
2.Remove all skin and fat from the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with the garam masala, and rub into the flesh.
3. In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, cover the pan, and wait for them to "pop." Then add the onion-spice paste and the cinnamon stick, and cook while stirring for a few minutes until it just begins to color. Add the rest of the chopped onion, and saute some more. Add the chicken pieces, and turn them to coat well with the mixture. Cook for a few minutes, turning once.
4. Add the beans,carrots, and mushrooms to the skillet. Let the mushrooms give up their liquid. Add the chicken broth. Cover the pot, and simmer gently for 1/2 hour. Add more broth if necessary if starts to stick to the pan.
5. Add the coconut milk and sweet potato. Cover and cook another 20-30 minutes or so, until sweet potato and chicken is tender. I removed the breast pieces after just 5 minutes so they would not get overcooked.
6. Uncover pot, stir well, and simmer another few minutes or until chicken is very tender. Add the peas, the white meat if you've removed it, and let heat. Sprinkle the cilantro over before serving, if desired.
Raita with Cucumber, Tomato and Mint
2 small cucumbers, seeded
1 tomato, quartered
1 cup plain thick yogurt (I used TJ's 0% Greek)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
In the food processor, coarsly chop the cucumbers. mint and tomato. Put into a bowl, and stir in the yogurt. Let sit in fridge for 1/2 hour to let flavors blend before serving.