Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chicken in Spicy Red Sauce Lal Shorve Vala Murgh

     The weather is starting to get cold, so it's time to cook more Indian food! Nothing warms you up like a belly full of fine spices. This couldn't be a more satisfying dish. Chicken and potatoes in tomatoes packed with flavor. I served it over rice because starch. I'm definitely going to make this again, but when I do, I'm adding more heat and cutting back the water to get a thicker sauce. As I made it, it was pretty mild. I wound up adding some sauce made from Carolina Reapers. That helped! Despite the wide array of spices, this dish was really a snap to cook. Give it a try. Or don't. Ignore this and go to McDonald's. You won't hurt my feelings. No, seriously, you'll hurt my feelings. Try it. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Chicken in a Spicy Red Sauce
Lal Shorve Vala Murgh
via Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking

  • 2-1/4 pounds chicken pieces (we went with thighs. You can use whatever you want)
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 good-sized cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped (we grated our ginger, but more importantly, why is fresh ginger always measured in inches? What if you have a piece 2 inches long but sixty feet wide? Seems kind of inconsistent)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Generous pinch ground asfetida. optional (no it's not. Find an Indian grocer or get it online. Trust me.)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2-inch stick cinnamon
  • 6 cardamom pods (didn't have any on hand, but I did have cardamom seeds. We used about a teaspoon worth)
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 3 dried, hot red chiles (we went with dried cayenne)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (in retrospect, I should have gone with 1/2 teaspoon. It could have used a bit more heat)
  • 1-1/2 cup canned, chopped tomatoes (I used a 14.5 ounce can. I didn't drain it, which I will do next time, or cut some of the water that gets added later)
  • 12 ounces potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks (my chunks were about 1/2-3/4 inches. I do what I want)
  1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and black pepper and set aside.
  2. Put the garlic and ginger into a blender with 3 tablespoons water; blend into paste.
  3. Put the oil in a wide, nonstick pan and set over medium-high heat (we went with the trusty cast-iron enameled Dutch oven). When the oil is hot, put in the cumin seeds. Wait for 10 seconds and put in the cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves and red chiles. Stir for a few seconds until the larger spices begin to turn darker. Put in the garlic and ginger paste. Stir and fry for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken, turmeric, and cayenne. Stir and fry for another minute (I gave it a few minutes to get a nice brown on the skin of the chicken). Add the tomatoes, potatoes, 1-1/4 cup of water and 1 teaspoon salt (I omitted the salt and will likely cut the water a bit, since I kept the liquid from the canned tomatoes)
  5. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken and the potatoes are tender (I live in constant fear of poisoning myself with undercooked chicken, so I gave it an extra 5 minutes or so). 
  6. Make sure to remove the cloves, pods and dried chiles, or at least warn your diners. Remember, much like bay leaves, large spices=DEATH.
Good times!

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