Ironic Chefs - Indian



Main Course and Side Dishes


Chicken Moghlai

Adapted from An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cubed
4 medium onions, 2 coarsely chopped and 2 cut in half lengthwise and then sliced into thin half-rings
Ginger, a piece about 1 1/2 inch by 1 inch, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
10 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
10 cloves
1 tsp whole cumin seed
1 1/2 Tbsp ground coriander
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 Tbsp yogurt
1/4 cup tomato sauce
  or 1 Tbsp tomato paste dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp leaf saffron
1 Tbsp milk

Put the chopped onions, ginger, and garlic in a blender or food processor with 4 Tbsp water. Process to a smooth paste.

In a heavy 4-5 qt pot, heat 2 Tbsp oil. Stir fry the sliced onions over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until onions are dark brown and crisp but not black or burned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Raise heat to high and add as much chicken as will fit in a single layer in the pan. Brown the chicken on all sides as quickly as possible, without cooking the chicken too much. Remove to a platter. Repeat for any remaining chicken.

Turn the heat down to medium high. Add remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cardamom pods, cloves, and cumin seed. Stir and saute for a minute. Add the pureed onion mixture and stir fry for 10 minutes.

While the paste is frying, dry roast the ground coriander and cumin by placing them in a small frying pan over medium low heat and stir for 2-3 minutes until spices darken a bit.

When the paste is ready, add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Stir and mix for 1 minute. Add, at intervals, one ingredient at a time, constantly stirring and frying, the yogurt (one tablespoon at a time), the tomato sauce, the chicken pieces and salt, and after two minutes, 1/2 cup water. Combine well, bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring periodically.

While the chicken cooks, dry roast the saffron in the same way as the coriander and cumin. (Be careful not to let it burn.) Warm the milk and crumble the saffron into it. Let soak for 20 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked, add the browned onions and the saffron milk. Simmer another 5 minutes to blend.

Sweet Tomato Chutney

Adapted from An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

2 pounds tomatoes (or 28 oz canned, with juices)
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
Ginger, a piece about 2 inches by 1 inch by 1 inch, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8-1/2 tsp cayenne
2 Tbsp golden raisins
2 Tbsp blanched slivered almonds

Drop the tomatoes in boiling vinegar until the skin crinkles. Lift them out, cool by running under cold water briefly, and peel.

Put the garlic and ginger in a food processor. Process, gradually adding up to 1/2 cup of the wine vinegar until the mixture forms a smooth paste.

Put the tomatoes, remaining vinegar, sugar, salt, and optionally cayenne in a heavy 4-quart nonstick pot. Bring to a boil, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon as they heat. Add the garlic-ginger mixture. When the mixture returns to a boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, stirring periodically, until the mixture becomes thick. Add more cayenne to taste, and the almonds and raisins. Simmer 5 more minutes. Allow to cool and then refrigerate.

Notes: The author knows from experience that after mostly forgetting about the chutney for several hours while it simmers, it is easy to also forget the final ingredients (almonds, raisins, and cayenne). If you happen to forget, or if you have nut allergies, the chutney suffers very little from their absence.

If you use fresh tomatoes but are feeling a bit lazy and don't mind the inelegance of a few skins in your chutney, you can use tomatoes unpeeled and optionally just fish skins out as the tomatoes cook. Since unpeeled tomatoes take longer to disintegrate and are harder to break with a spoon, it is best to halve or quarter the tomatoes to avoid increasing the cooking time.