Butter Chicken For The First Day Of Fall!

When we went to Atlanta a few weeks ago we went to the Dekalb Farmers Market on the recommendation of a friend at work.   She told me I could find anything I wanted and more, and when we pulled into the parking lot and saw the size of the market I knew were in for a treat!  I wish I had some pictures to share, especially of the fish mongers, but the market does not allow pictures.  It was a food lover’s mecca, for real.  I felt like a kid in the candyshop with wavering self-control.  Fortunately I knew I had to limit my haul to shelf stable items as we were traveling so I went straight for the spices!  I grimace when I have to purchase a $4-5 small bottle of a spice I am missing, when I saw these 1 cup containers filled with all kinds of flavors for under a buck and a half I could not resist.

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I took a way quite a few Indian spices to add to our cabinet.  With the first day of autumn upon us, I knew plenty of soups and stews would be on the horizon.  Fall into Indian Cuisine!  Sir Wes hadn’t ever had Butter Chicken also called Chicken Makhani, nor had I ever made it, so I thought it was a perfect dish to kick off the new season.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon chopped ginger
  • ½ tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, julienned into 1 inch strips
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • Chopped cilantro

Directions:

Pour 1 tablespoon oil in a 2 quart saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add in butter, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin, coriander and bay leaf.  Stir the spices as they cook, drawing out their peak flavor for a minute.   Mix in the tomato sauce, and continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Pour in milk and the yogurt and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently before seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the sauce from heat and set aside.

Place a heavy bottom large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil.  Add in the chicken strips and cook chicken until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium low, and add in teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Feel free to eliminate the cayenne or add more based on you heat preferences.  Add the sauce into the skillet and simmer over medium low heat.   The sauce will reduce and thicken as the chicken finishes cooking.   When ready to serve stir in chopped cilantro as garnish.

This recipe will serve 4 guests. Serve with basmati rice or fresh naan bread.

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If you ever get the chance to get to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market you must go for it.  Take advantage of the lower prices and branch out of your everyday cooking style.  Try something new, you might just find a new favorite!

Happy first day of autumn and may all your leaves fall in the right place!!

Chicken Chickpea Curry- Influenced by a Morning with Indian Cuisine Chefs

I took a quick trip to Chicago last year to learn about Indian food, it was an incredible learning experience and left me with a new favorite cuisine.  Not sure why I didn’t realize it before, it makes perfect sense- a lot of vegetarian dishes, no pork, cilantro and a ton of flavor, all things I love!

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Being in the kitchen with 2 Indian Chefs for the morning, tasting and learning was a perfect way to understand the philosophy behind the cuisine.  Talk about using a lot of seasoning- there is no dusting or sprinkling in Indian cuisine, it is more like straight up dumping.  The more seasoning the better.   The chefs tasted and layered the flavorful stews and sauces for thru the morning, before lunch was served, adding more and more from the bags of spices.

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I was really amazed at the exuberant amount of seasoning they added to all the food, it reminded me of a Chef I worked with when I first started cooking who didn’t believe in the “standard olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic” marinate, but more pushed us to use heavily seasoned marinates and highly flavorful sauces.  But these Indian chefs took that to a whole new level and I loved it- look at the amount of peppers prepped for one lunch- lol- crazy.

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Needless to say, I have become a bit of a dabbler in Indian cuisine; recently I modified a Cooking Light recipe that caught my eye.  I suppose curries are equivalently comforting to me as a beef stew to someone else.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown basmati rice, aka, Popcorn Rice (you can also use standard basmati rice)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • ¼ cup diced green pepper
  • 1 cup ground chicken
  • 2 teaspoons medium curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (28-ounce) can unsalted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

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Preparation

1. Cook rice according to package directions; drain.

2. While rice cooks, heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, peppers and ground chicken; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in curry and cumin; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in yogurt and salt. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve over rice.

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We did manage to have some fun, tried a lot of great restaurants, local food, native micro brews and met a lot of friendly people!  I even had one of my lifetime goals fulfilled… (see evidence below).

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Oh, and one other thing I learned was Chicken Tikka Masala is commonly thought of as being from the Indian culture, but it was derived in England, where Indian food is very popular.  I suppose it is similar to Southwest United States did to Mexican food- Tex Mex…

Being able to learn from expert chefs priceless, if you get the chance be sure to soak it in!