Full confession: I am not Indian. Nor, do I have any expertise whatsoever in Mughlai cuisine. Having said that, I absolutely love Indian food, and for years have been coming up with completely bastardized versions of some of its more popular dishes….usually the ones involving a lot of cream. To be sure, I don’t want to offend anyone and imply that I know what I’m doing, but I will stand by the claim that this is an absolutely kick-ass dish.
The first thing you’re gonna want to do is find yourself an Indian grocery store, if you haven’t already (in New York Kalustyan’s is the place). I always wind up spending 4 times as much as I planned because inevitably a dozen items will catch my eye that I hadn’t planned on buying. And when buying in bulk, the prices drop dramatically. For this dish, get yourself some Basmati rice, ghee, cumin, turmeric, cardamon pods, coriander, and…OK, if your not up for that much effort, and don’t feel like grinding your own curry powder (which will give you a fresher mix), a jar of store-bought stuff will do. That’s not to say it’s the same, but for an unauthentic dish like this, it’ll do in a pinch.
On the way home from the market, while your eating the vegetable samosa you bought in their take-out area, pop into your neighborhood liquor store and purchase a bottle of Auchentoshan Classic single malt scotch. This is a terrific, triple-distilled scotch from the Lowlands of Scotland. It boasts an extremely smooth, light, fragrant taste. It’s very easy to drink as a “session scotch”….in this case, the time it takes to prep, cook, and serve this dish.
First thing (at this point, I don’t think I have to mention that “first thing” means AFTER you’ve poured yourself a “Scotch-For-This-Recipe” scotch into your favorite rocks glass w a few cubes)
Whoa….OK, even I am gonna admit that’s a fucking lot of scotch in a rather large rocks glass. If I recall correctly, that was due to me being overly-caffeinated that day, and this damn song coming on my iTunes:
(While I love my fellow Heeb, Mr. Diamond, I don’t recommend this song for this dish…or any dish…ever).
But, I digress.
Next, cube up two boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and 3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and toss into a bowl. Add a good tablespoon of salt, teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons of your curry powder. If you prefer to mix your own powder, this is an awesome recipe from the legendary Madhur Jaffrey. (*see bottom of page).
Mix well so that all the chicken is covered. Next spoon in 1 cup of plain yogurt and stir well.
Ideally, you’ll want to refrigerate this overnight, but a few hours can do quite a lot to flavor and tenderize the meat. Of course, if you’re like me (that is, caffeinated and buzzed on late afternoon-scotch) you’ll take the short route.
When you’re ready to get this sucker going, heat up your trusty Creuset, or Dutch oven of your choice, over medium heat and spoon in three tablespoons of ghee.
Ghee, basically, clarified butter, is made by slowly simmering butter until the water has cooked out and the milk fat solids have sunk to the bottom. Strained, you’re left with a rich and shelf-safe fat. When the ghee is heated toss in one finely chopped onion, six cardamom pods and, after the onion has brown, two chopped cloves of garlic.
Carefully dump in all of the chicken and yogurt mixture and stir well. Keep stirring everything around, taking “stirring sips” of your scotch throughout (I just typed, “stirring sips”…jesus), for about 15 minutes. When the chicken looks cooked and takes on some color, toss in a quarter cup of finely chopped cilantro.
Stir well, and pour in a cup of heavy cream, and another teaspoon of salt.
Stir through and cover. Simmer for 40 minutes. When done, serve with Basmati rice (I’m an unabashed Ina G. fan, and highly recommend her recipe. I’ve made it many times, and it never disappointments…as I’m sure it’s never disappointed her well-fe+d husband, Jeffrey) and garlic nan (no, I don’t have a tandoori oven in my apartment, but it, along with owning a squadron of tanks, is one of my life goals). Garnish with more fresh cilantro and dig in.
- 2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- bunch of cilantro
- 1 cup of plain yogurt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 cardamom pods
- curry powder*
- kosher salt and pepper
- 1 bottle of Auchentoshan Classic
(Serve with Basmati rice and Nan)
Makes about 5 to 6 tablespoons
2 Tbls. whole coriander seeds
1Tbls. whole cumin seeds
2 tsp. whole peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp. whole brown mustard seeds
3 to 4 whole cloves
3 hot dried red chilies, crumbled
1 tsp. whole fenugreek seeds
1 tsp. ground turmeric
Set a small, cast iron frying pan over medium heat. When it is hot, pur coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, mustard seeds, cloves and chilies. Stir around until the spices emit a light, roasted aroma. The spices will just begin to turn color. Add the fenugreek seeds and turmeric and stir for 10 seconds. Empty the spices out to cool. When cooled, grind as finely as possible using a spice grinder or food processor.
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