Sunday, September 12, 2010

Indian Chicken with Cilantro and Almonds

The thing I really appreciate about Indian food (besides the flavor, of course!) is that I can make it in advance, and the longer it sits, the better it tastes. That's a very helpful thing for those of us who are responsible for putting dinner on the table after a long day at work. I might make a chicken or lamb curry on Sunday and heat it up later in the week for a quick weeknight dinner. And the vegetarian dishes freeze beautifully. I just pulled out a portion of sweet and sour chickpeas from June and it tasted just as good as the day it was made.

Indian food has the reputation of being difficult to make but I think you'll find this stew (curry?) is quite easy. No hard to find ingredients. Use whatever part of the chicken you like-dark or white meat, with or without bones. The only difference is the cooking time. Best of all, this dish can be made ahead and gently reheated so you can it enjoy it more than once! Be sure to have plenty of naan around to mop up the sauce.

Chicken with Cilantro and Almonds
Adapted from The Food of India
serves 4 to 6
  • 6 chicken drumsticks, skin removed (or the equivalent amount of another cut)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond butter*
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • knob of ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • green chiles, to taste, chopped
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • 1.5 tbs ground coriander
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup cream
  • healthy handful cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted almond slivers for garnish
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat about 3 tablespoons oil in a casserole or pot and brown the chicken. Remove and set aside. In the same pot, fry the onions, ginger, garlic and bay leaves (add more oil if necessary). Cook over medium until the onions start to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the dry spices, and return the chicken to the pot, turning to coat the chicken well. Add about 1.5 cups water. Simmer the drumsticks with the cover on for 25 minutes (about half that time for breast meat with bones). Add the almond butter and cream, coating the pieces well. Add salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook uncovered on medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Just before serving, garnish with the chopped cilantro and almond slivers. Serve with basmati rice or naan bread.

Leftovers can be reheated over low-med heat. Add a little water or cream to loosen the sauce, if necessary.

*The original recipe calls for blanching and grinding the almonds, but I save time by using a good quality, unsweetened toasted almond butter. It also gives a smoother consistency to the sauce.

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