Monday, March 06, 2006

Chicken Masala (ARF5/#10)

What happens when a fresh coconut in the middle of the winter is too hard to resist at the grocery store? When you try to impress friends from out of town by using your drill to get at the sweet, rich water inside (other than learn there are easier ways)? What do you do once everyone has had their fill of sweet coconut meat? You spend a week in coconut bliss…

It all started with a Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze. Now, fresh coconut is not needed for this bread, but it tastes amazing sprinkled on top. Once all that coconut meat is shredded, there are about 4 cups to put to use. Coconut Banana Bread used about ½ cup. Today it was Chicken Masala. I must admit this was my first time ever cooking a “legitimate” Indian meal. In the past, I have sprinkled some curry, tumeric and cumin together and called it Indian. Sad, because I absolutely love Indian food. And bad, especially since I have most of the spices in my cabinet!

I found a fairly simple recipe on Mahanandi. This recipe was chosen over others because, well, I had all the ingredients. This recipe also did not take too much time—as long as everything is in front of you at the start. It also helps to have an extra hand in the kitchen (so while one is roasting spices, the other can grind). The final result was excellent and filled the home with an amazing aromatic essence.

First, the benefits of coconut.

At a recent dinner party, I ordered coconut milk. I offered some to a friend who dissed it, “Oh, that stuff is really high in saturated fats. I won’t touch it.” Your loss, it was good. Coconut Oil is one of the best oils a person can consume. For centuries, South East Asian cultures have called the coconut palm the Tree of Life. Coconut oil is antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiprotozoal. Not all saturated fats are alike. While coconut oil is one of the highest in saturated fats it is also one of the highest sources of medium chain triglycerides, many of which are important in building and maintaining the immune system. Some medium chain fatty acids, like coconut oil, help to maintain the metabolism. It is also very good for the skin as a moisturizer.

Coconut Meat is high in fiber, vitamins and minerals (vitamin C, E, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron). It is also low in cholesterol and sodium. Other forms of coconut include Coconut Water which is the liquid found upon initially cracking the coconut open. And Coconut Milk, made by steeping coconut meat pulp in boiling water and then pressing for the milk. All these forms of coconut share similar health benefits up to a point.

Below is the second installation on coconuts. More to come shortly on this tasty and long lasting fruit! This recipe is taken from Mahanandi’s site. It is followed step by step with the replacement of chicken instead of potatoes. Interesting, because my masala turned out orangey-brown instead of red! It also was not as sauce-based as Mahanandi’s picture! Maybe more water (or plain tomato sauce?) would fix this. Well, it was still delicious! I served this on a bed of basmati rice. Once again, it is recommended to have all ingredients out before starting. And again, a second hand helps-- While D was roasting all ingredients on the stovetop I was busy puréeing the ingredients together in steps and keeping an eye on the rice. In the end, there is enough masala leftover for two lunches tomorrow.

The below recipe is the original Aloo Dum (Potatoes in Masala Sauce). This recipe seems like a lot of ingredients but it is really mostly spices. So give it a try.

Serving Size= 4. Active Time= 30-45 minutes.
The preparation is three step. First boil the baby potatoes until they are just tender. Roast and grind the spices, the vegetables and the nuts for masala sauce. Combine and cook them together. The whole preparation takes about 30 to 45 minutes, if you have everything at hand.:) And the main chunk of it is of course to wait for the potatoes to boil.

* 12 tiny baby potatoes

* 4 medium sized ripe tomatoes, each cut into four quarters
* 1 medium sized red onion or 4 shallots cut into big chunks
* ¼ cup finely chopped coriander
* 1×1 inch piece of fresh ginger
* 2 big garlic cloves

* ½ cup cashews
* ½ cup fresh grated coconut

Dry Masala
* 6 dried red chillies
* 1 teaspoon coriander seeds & cumin
* ½ teaspoon peppercorns
* 3 small cinnamon sticks and cloves
* 1 star anise

* 2 teaspoons of peanut oil
*1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, cumin and some curry leaves
* ½ tsp of turmeric
* Salt to taste

1) Preparation is boil, roast-sauté-grind and cook.
Boil the potatoes until they are just fork-tender. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the skin. Prick them with a fork in multiple sites and keep them aside.
2) Gather the listed ingredients for masala sauce, ready on hand on a big plate. Heat an iron skillet and proceed like this.
3) Roast dry masala ingredients, for few minutes, until they release their smell. Remove them from the skillet and keep aside.
4) Roast cashews, then fresh grated coconut for few minutes. Remove them from the skillet and keep aside.
5) Roast ginger and garlic for few minutes. Remove them from the skillet and keep aside.
6) Finally heat one teaspoon of oil and roast onion and tomatoes for few minutes.
Let them cool down little bit. When they are cool enough to touch, put them in a blender. Add half glass of water and half teaspoon of salt. Grind them into smooth paste.
7) Cook: Heat one teaspoon of peanut oil in a big wide pan or kadai. Toast the popu ingredients (mustard seeds, cumin and curry leaves) until they start to splutter. Add the grinded masala paste and another half glass of water. Stir in turmeric. Taste and add salt if needed. Add baby potatoes. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes. Finally stir in finely chopped cilantro and serve.

My Kitchen Notes: 
Don’t forget to prick the potatoes, so that they can absorb the sauce.
 Onions - avoid yellow onion and go with shallots or red onions. 
If you want, you can also stir in cream/yogurt at the end.

Head on over to Sweetnicks for all your ARF/5 round up!

View Stats Defining your blogs worth..