Thursday, September 29, 2005

Cooler weather... and a great Indian recipe

The cooler air from Canada finally arrived! After dropping the kids off, I hit Town Lake, and the cool wind rippling the surface of the water, brushing the sycamore leaves together and ruffling the poison ivy (lots of it; pretty in the fall, but treacherous) was wonderful... I ran the whole four miles, instead of stopping to gasp for breath and limp a quarter mile halfway through. Of course, I'll probably wolf down a few chocolate bars this afternoon and cancel the effects of the exercise, but for now, I feel virtuous.

I always like to cook when the weather cools down; maybe that's why I made a great Indian dish last night (in anticipation of the cold front)... I was so proud of myself for having everything together: the dal, the chicken dish... and then fifteen minutes before the chicken was done, I realized I hadn't put on rice. So we had Indian food with an African flair (couscous). Anyway, here's what I made (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's fabulous Indian Cooking cookbook)...

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garam Masala

3-5 T veg. oil
3/4 t cumin seeds
1-in. cinnamon stikc
6 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1/4 t peppercorns
2/3 large onion, peeled and finely chopped (well, coarsely chopped, in my case)
6-7 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1-in. cube fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 lb. fresh tomatoes, chopped (you can use canned, apparently, but I didn't)
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 t salt
1/8-1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t garam masala

Put the oil in a large, wide pan and set over med-hi heat. When hot, put in cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves and peppercorns. Stir once and then put in onions, garlic, and ginger. Stir until onions pick up brown specks. Now put in tomatoes, chicken, salt, and cayenne. Stir to mix and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, turn heat to low, and simmer for 20-25 minutes until chicken is done. (Stir a few times while cooking.) Remove cover and turn heat up to medium; stir in garam masala and cook, stirring gently from time to time, for about 5 minutes to reduce liquid a little.

I served it with dal and couscous; had I thought ahead of time, I would have made brown basmati rice. This would also be great with a salad on the side, or, if you're feeling adventurous (I was once, eight years ago, and haven't done it since), fresh naan.


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