Coconut-Curry Chicken, South Indian Style

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By popular demand, I am sharing a special Indian recipe from the Club Dine In! test kitchen. This is the perfect dish for a cold winter evening (it’s supposed to snow in SF this weekend). Like most Indian dishes, it tastes better the next day so don’t worry about having leftovers. I highly recommend using organic, cage-free chicken for health, environmental, and ethical reasons. If you cannot find rasam powder, use 1 tablespoon gharam masala. The gharam masala will change the flavor, but it’s a still a good substitute.

Ingredients
serves 4
* 2 pounds chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cubed
* 1/4 cup coconut milk
* 2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
* 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
* 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
* 1/4 cup dried curry leaves*
* 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
* 1 tablespoon rasam powder* (see headnote)
* 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida*
* 1 teaspoon red chile powder, more or less for your palate
* 1 teaspoon turmeric
* 1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes or 3/4 cup canned tomatoes
* 1 teaspoon salt, less if using canned tomatoes
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
* 1 tablespoon coconut flakes*
*Can be found at specialty Asian and Indian markets.

Method

1. Rinse the chicken breast under cool, running water. Cut them into 1-inch cubes and marinate in coconut milk and 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, and ginger for 15 minutes.

2. Add 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and then add the onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until onions are soft and golden. If the onions start sticking and browning, add 1 tablespoon of water and stir.

3. Add the curry leaves, mustard seeds, rasam powder, asafoetida, red chile powder, turmeric, and salt to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and water. Stir well.

4. Add the chicken with the coconut milk and stir well. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally and add a few tablespoons of water at a time if sauce is burning out.

5. Garnish with cilantro and coconut flakes. Serve with basmati rice or roti.


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Chana Chai Masala

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In my quest for eating mostly only seasonal and local produce, I have avoided making Indian food that requires a tomato based gravy this winter. Mainly because I have not seen any tomatoes at the Farmers Market in the last couple of months. Though, I was craving Indian food last week- in particular Chole Bathura. Chole Bathura is a dish that originates in the Northern Indian state  of Punjab. Punjab is known for their decadent dishes like Chicken Makhani, Saag Paneer, and Chole Bathura. Chole Bathura is an ultimate comfort food, perfect for a chilly, winter’s day. Chole are spicy chickpeas/garbanzo bean and bathura is deep fried bread. Since, I am not eating any fried food this month (Rule #3 of January Rules), I decided to make my own version of bread and garbanzo beans that would hit the spot. I also realized that I could make an exception and use canned tomatoes to substitute the fresh, ripe tomatoes. As long as the ingredient list of the canned tomatoes only reads tomatoes and no other processed ingredients.**

There were many firsts when I attempted to make this dish. It was my first time cooking with dried garbanzo beans and using canned tomatoes. After inquiring on Twitter and asking my mom on how to cook garbanzo beans, I decided that soaking and boiling them would probably produce the best results. This  cooking method is longer than opening a can of beans, but canned beans are slimy and often have added salt and preservatives. It also happens to be national tea month, so I added a little flavor of my own. I used a Masala Chai blend from Samovar, but you can easily make your own mix or use a Masala Chai tea bag. Carefully read the ingredients list on the tea bag, and avoid using tea that has added sugars or artificial flavors. Higher quality, fair-trade loose leaf tea will yield the best results.

Chana Chai Masala

Ingredients
Serves 4-6
1 cup dry Garbanzo beans
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda
plenty of water to soak and boil the beans
1 tablespoon Masala Chai mixture or 1 Chai tea bag
3/4 cup boiling hot water
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
2 teaspoon cumin, ground
1 tsp coriander, ground
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, more or less for your tolerance
2 tsp ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces canned tomatoes**
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
One lemon, juiced and zested

Masala Chai Mixture
1 tablespoon black tea
1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
2-3 whole cloves
1-2 peppercorns, whole
2-3 cardamom pods, cracked open

1. Soak Garbanzo beans in plenty of water overnight (at least 8 hours). Rinse the soaked Garbanzo beans. Bring 3 cups of water in a large stock pot to a boil. Add the Garbanzo beans, baking soda, and let simmer for 20 minutes, until they are soft but not mushy.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large pan on medium heat. Once pan is heated add oil and let it heat up for 30 seconds. Add onions and saute them until translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Stir frequently. If the onions start to brown, add 1 tablespoon of water. Add spices and mix well. The spices will stick to the onion and become aromatic in about 45 seconds. Mix in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.

3. While the onions are cooking, steep tea mixture in 3/4 cup boiling hot water in a cup and cover. The tea should steep for about 20 minutes.

3. Slowly add in the tomatoes with their liquid to the pan. Stir well to incorporate spice mixture. Add the salt. After 2 minutes, reduce temperature to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Add in the Garbanzo beans. Strain tea leaves or remove tea bag from water, and pour the tea water into the pan. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning. Turn off heat and mix in lemon juice and zest.

5. Garnish with cilantro or marigold petals. Serve with Basmati rice or roti.

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded people and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.