I love bold fresh flavors, and I’m not going to lie, I like bold colors too. This often leads me to fondle bags of turmeric, or chili powders that I don’t really need in the spice shop, and my spice cabinet (fancy word for shelf) is organized by a brilliant system of color and most used rather than something practical like alphabetically.
Indian food has a flavor, scent and taste that I have always admired and enjoyed but I have made very little of it. After getting inspired by watching both Anjum Anand and Bal Arneson I took myself down to the spice shop and invested in some basics, curry leaves, cardamom pods, a garam masala (which just means hot, spice blend, but not hot as in heat, rather hot meaning the spices are toasted before put into the blend) cumin seeds, coriander seeds, you get the picture, and started experimenting. Some of my attempts haven’t been total successes but finally I made one that I loved and plan to make over and over with a variety of vegetables. This recipe is so quick easy and flavorful. The only slightly complicated part of this is making sure to marinate the chicken overnight. Other than that, the total cooking time was just around 30 minutes if not less.
Chicken Tikka Masala Over Brown Rice
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
The night before:
1 pound organic boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into inch wide strips
1 fresh anaheim chili or two red frescos
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or peanut, sunflower, anything really)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoons garam masala
1 tablespoon tomato purée (I used the juice from a can of tomatoes)
3 sprigs chopped cilantro including the stalks
Put the garlic, chili, ginger and oil in a food processor and blend well. Then add the paprika, garam masala, tomato purée and the 3 sprigs of cilantro and blend. Take your chicken and put it in a resealable bag, pour the marinade over the chicken coating each piece thoroughly and put in fridge to marinate overnight.
After the chicken has marinated:
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 large red onion sliced
2 large bell peppers cleaned and sliced (any color you want, I used multi-colored ones from the farmer’s market)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons turmeric
1 tablespoon kosher salt (add more if you want more!)
1 28 oz can of organic plum tomatoes drained and broken up
1 cup goat yogurt (you can use regular cow yogurt)
1/3 cup Crème Fraiche
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves roughly chopped
1 cup brown rice
Start the brown rice. After taking the chicken out of the fridge and cutting up your vegetables, heat the 2 tablespoons oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, cinnamon, ground coriander and turmeric and cook gently for 5-7 minutes. You want the peppers and onions to soften but not lose their delightful crispy crunch. Add the drained and broken up tomatoes and the cup of goat yogurt, stir until thoroughly mixed and bring to a medium simmer. Add the chicken pieces, the marinade should be coating the chicken, if there is some left in the bottom of the bag add that too.
Cook the chicken pieces in the sauce for 12-15 minutes, or until the pieces are cooked through. Turn off the heat and stir in the Crème Fraiche and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve over rice.
Cooks note: I used thighs as opposed to breast because I like both the flavor and the price of dark meat over breast meat, but you can absolutely use chicken breast instead. I recommend brown rice not only because it is better for you, but also I thought the nuttier flavor of it went really nicely with the sauce.
Nerd Note: Turmeric is actually part of the ginger family and it is most often used for in the U.S. is providing color in prepared mustards. Who knew? Thank you Harold McGee!