Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cardamom Yogurt Chicken with Shallot and Red Pepper Curry

I am a lucky, lucky girl. Who eats very well.
Obviously I think that the food I cook is tasty, but I feel exceptionally lucky when Kristopher cooks for me. And I don’t mean whipping up a stirfry (which he knows I consider bachelor food*). I mean cook a chicken pot pie from scratch, start to finish, pastry and everything. If he could pluck the bird himself, he would.

*Yes I realize that a stirfry can be fantastic, but I detest them at home and would rather go to an Asian restaurant. It’s one person’s opinion!

When we first met I was a tad concerned about if our food tastes would work together well – I knew he really liked perogies, wasn’t concerned about his vegetable intake, and I saw some Ranch dressing in his fridge (terrible, food snobbish judgements on my part).

But now I know that he thinks my food is delicious and he loves to eat it, and I have long ago been satisfied that we can eat very well together. And when I get grumpy and complain about doing the cooking, he surprises me with something out of the blue, like the above mentioned chicken pot pie. He kept it a secret what he was making, and I happened to walk in (probably to tell a witty story or add a stunningly intelligent insight into BC’s politics) at a key moment – when he was making the pastry. And adding ‘two sticks of butter’. However, I buy butter in the form of two cup blocks which he interpreted to equal one went four cups! I made a few choice suggestions, gave a few pointers and went back into the living room where I was instructed to drink wine.
The pastry turned out perfect – very, very flaky. And the rest, everything you could expect from a chicken pot pie and more. Delicious.
He may not be an experienced cook, but this man can follow a recipe to a T.

Tonight was one of my lucky nights, and Kristopher was cooking.
I believe he heard an interview with
Meeru Dhalwala, Vikram Vij's wife, this morning on CBC and was inspired to make one of Vij’s curries.

These recipes are exactly what he followed, with a few suggestions made by me that I have added here. Don’t let the number of different spices freak you out. If you feel as though Indian cooking is something that you might do more often, then these are exactly the ones you need and you will use them over and over again. I usually buy them in bulk at the grocery store and keep them in sealable glass jars. Apparently I should start labelling them though, just in case someone mixes up the paprika with the cayenne. No biggie.

Please enjoy, because these are phenomenal!!!

Vij’s Chicken in Cardamom Yogurt Sauce
-adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2009

• 1 1/2 cups plain, 2 or 3% yogurt
• 1 1/2 cups canned tomato puree
• 3 Tablespoons ground cumin
• 2 Tablespoons ground coriander
• 4 teaspoons paprika
• 1 Tablespoon celery seed
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon cardamom pods, cracked
• 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
• 2 pounds chicken thighs (I suggest bone-in but skinless)
• handful of chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 375F.
Whisk everything but the chicken and cilantro together in a big baking dish. Add chicken and make sure everything is coated (in ours, we had so much sauce the chicken was submerged).
Bake uncovered for around an hour, flipping the chicken halfway through.
Serve with your chopped cilantro and the curry below.

Red Bell Pepper and Shallot Curry
-adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2009

• 1/3 cup vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
• 3 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 10 large shallots)
• 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
• 1 pound plum tomatoes, chopped (a big can works well)
• 3 large jalapeno chilies, seeded and finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 3 large red bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
• 1 bunch green onions, white and green parts diced

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan, then add the cumin and mustard seeds (if you are using ground, skip this step and use them when you add the rest of the dry spices). Allow them to cook until aromatic and some of them start to pop.
Lower the heat and add the shallots (stir well as you want them to start to caramelize, not deep fry) and the garlic. Allow to brown for about five minutes, then add the jalapenos and the rest of your dry spices.
Stir and allow to cook for thirty seconds or so, then add the tomatoes. You now want this to simmer away so if there isn’t enough liquid to almost cover everything, add some water.
Allow to simmer over medium heat for about ten minutes or whenever the rest of your dinner is ready. Finally, add the sliced red peppers and allow to cook another five minutes or until they are just soft.
Serve with the chopped green onions, your chicken, some rice, and maybe a raita or some chutney.

*yes, these particular recipes give exact measurements for everything. But if you want to add more of something, spices especially, go crazy.

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