chicken in tomato sauce, with a sour kick

Posted: October 18, 2013 in Indian
Tags: , , , , , , ,

chickenI have only one pet peeve when I cook: It’s when I’ve mixed almost all the ingredients, only one step to go till it’s over, and I realize that I don’t have the last ingredient. It’s usually something important, too, like the pesto for my pesto cream pasta entree.  Now that I’ve become a food blogger, it’s become more than just a peeve; it’s downright unacceptable. Unfortunately, the alternative is not so sexy. Every Thursday or Friday, after work, I sit down in front of the computer to plan out what we’re going to cook for the rest of the week so I can write a grocery list. There are so many levels to why this is not sexy: One, it feels rigid. One of the Myers-Briggs questions is “Do you think that the best solution is one that can easily be changed?” I’m not sure which part of my INTJ profile that question was meant to source, but my answer to it has always been “yes.” When I’m writing my meals for the rest of the week, I should be excited, looking forward to all these new recipes I get to try, but I’m too busy rolling my eyes at the fact that I’ve committed myself to seven days’ worth of recipes.

The second reason it doesn’t feel sexy is it means I always know what’s in our pantry – which is obviously the whole point of the exercise – but it feels like a double edged sword. On the one hand, I know what’s in my pantry, and so I’ll always know what I can cook. On the other hand, I feel like I lose some of the magic of walking into my kitchen, pulling stuff out of cabinets, throwing spice around my skillet and wondering what creation I’ll end up with!  Granted, that style of cooking has rarely proved successful in my case and has led to one too many nights of Korean take out, but boy, did it make cooking exciting.

Maybe the biggest part of it is that there’s something about writing lists – grocery lists no less – that feels just so grown up. Have I really become this responsible middle-aged person who plans out her week so that she has something great on the table each night? I have.  There’s a silver lining to all of this, I suppose: edible food and an ability to be more creative with my cooking instead of walking blindly through the kitchen.

There’s a life lesson in there somewhere, if I were open-minded enough about the perks of being a grown up to find it.

*                      *                        *

This recipe is adapted from Food Network’s Aarti Sequeira’s recipe. She’s become a new favorite chef  of mine. I’ll admit, I’m not sure where the zesty taste comes from in this recipe — maybe the diced tomatoes?)

1 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
3 tablespoons Ginger-Garlic Paste, recipe follows (or 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger and 3 cloves garlic put through a garlic press or finely minced)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, poked with a fork, and cut into large bite-sized chunks
Sauce:
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup Ginger-Garlic Paste, recipe follows (or 6 cloves garlic and 2-inch thumb ginger minced)
2 serrano peppers, minced (seeds removed if you don’t want it spicy)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
8 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 to 2 cups water
Oil, for grilling
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Minced fresh cilantro, for garnish
Cooked rice, naan, or crusty piece of bread, for serving

For the marinade: In a large bowl, mix together the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Marinate at least 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator up to overnight.

For the sauce: When you’re ready to make the curry, place a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the Ginger-Garlic Paste and serrano peppers. Saute until lightly browned around the edges. Add the tomato paste and cook until the tomato has darkened in color, about 3 minutes. Add the garam masala and the paprika and saute for about 1 minute to draw out their flavors.

Add the tomatoes, salt, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. You may need more water depending on how much liquid the tomatoes give off. Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid is thick. Add the cream just before it’s ready.

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