Sunday, June 30, 2013

CHICKEN MAKHANI for the WIN. This one is a KEEPER!


You get a lot of wonderful sauce, perfect for rice and naan bread.

 
We all get into ruts sometime, and lately I have been really busy, moving locations for work; travel, grad school commitments, moving, you name it!  So cooking gets routine, and as much as I can throw things together quickly, I get bored with both the cooking and the eating of the same things over and over. So I occasionally throw out a plea to my brilliant web of friends on FB. I imagine many of whom are facing the same issues. This week I got a great list of things to try, and they are on the menus for this next week. I also like to take one of my cookbooks (I have hundreds and read them more for inspiration than for actual recipes). I chose one I have not read in a while and browsed through and looked for things I have never considered before. This time I found a great recipe for Indian food, something I love but have only cooked once with my brother Eric and my sister-in-law Anna. This recipe comes from Indian Food and Folklore by Jo Lethaby.
 
So tonight I made Chicken Makhani, a rich dish that actually needs very little in the way of special spices, so the investment in new flavors was minimal.

CHICKEN MAKHANI--4 servings

Plan on marinating the chicken ahead of time, it needs to be in for 3 hours, although I overlooked this part and it was only marinated 1-1/2 hours . . .

1-1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2" pieces
3 Tbl. vegetable oil

Marinade
2 large red chiles (jalapeno size) seeded and chopped (If you are worried about the heat, use some small red peppers)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp. dry-roasted cumin seeds, crushed (I just toasted them a little on a hot skillet and threw them in the blender)
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. fresh cilantro leaves
4 Tbl. lemon juice
2/3 c. plain yogurt (I used greek)

Sauce
3 lb. ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup butter
1/2 c. heavy cream
The butter and tomatoes are signature flavors for this dish, so don't skimp!

I used thick Greek yogurt, so my marinade was fairly thick
Start by making the marinade. Place the peppers, garlic and cumin seeds in a blender or food processor and blend briefly. Add the remaining marinade ingredients and process into a smooth paste.
Transfer the marinade to a non-metalic bowl or ziplock bag, add the chicken cubes, and stir to completely cover. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

Meanwhile prepare the tomato/butter/cream sauce:

I only cooked this down for about ten minutes, they were fairly ripe so they got liquid fairly quickly.
I also made the mistake of adding the cream at the same time as the butter, but it worked out fine. I was more careful about heating it too high..


 Place the tomatoes in a saucepan and cook them gently with no added water for about 20 minutes or until they are tender. Rub them through a sieve into a second pan, pushing all the juices through and discarding the peels and seeds. Simmer for another 20 minutes, allowing the tomatoes to reduce and thicken a little. Stir in the butter and a little salt, and cook, stirring for about 10 more minutes. Add the cream and heat through, adjusting salt as needed. Set aside.

The oil seems like a lot but it all incorporates into the sauce.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet. Remove the chicken out of the marinade, reserving the marinade. (Because I used Greek yogurt, it was thick, and tended to cling a lot, but having a little on the meat didn't seem to matter.) Gently fry the chicken pieces for about 5 minutes, just enough to start searing the surface and getting a lightly browned surface. Add the marinade to the pan, increase the heat, and cook the mixture for about 10 more minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

Reduce the heat, and add the tomato/butter/cream sauce. Stir gently to fully mix the sauces, and simmer another 5 minutes.

Serve over rice, garnished with cilantro leaves and small diced pieces of chile. Goes nicely with naan.

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