This is my first real attempt at making Indian food.
I like the variations of complex spice mixtures, however with little experience preparing it, I needed to find a baseline set of spices to work from. I thought I had found it with a mixture known as garam masala, but no such luck. It was as varied as anything else.
So, I went back to basics: Use what you already have in the pantry. Thus was born, [simple_tooltip content=’Quick & Dirty: expedient and effective, but maybe not perfect.’] Q&D [/simple_tooltip] garam masala. It’s a combination of toasted whole spices and ground spices that are pretty much pantry staples.
1 tablespoon of black peppercorns and about 1 teaspoon each of whole cloves and whole coriander seeds are toasted over medium heat. Shake the pan often until the spices begin to smoke. Should take 5-6 minutes. Let cool then [simple_tooltip content=’in a coffee grinder, pepper mill or mortar and pestle’] grind [/simple_tooltip]. Mix with 1 tablespoon of classic Indian curry, 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground turmeric and ground cayenne pepper and ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
1½ lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts are partially tenderized with a kitchen mallet, then cut into cubes and sprinkled with kosher salt. Brown the chicken cubes in 2 tablespoons or so of olive oil over medium-high heat. Be careful not to over cook. It will finish later in the dish. Remove the chicken and set aside.
Adding more oil if necessary, saute ½ cup of chopped sweet onion for about 1 minute then add in 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro stems. Saute for another minute then add in 1 heavy tablespoon each of minced garlic and minced ginger root along with 2-3 bay leaves. Continue to saute until the garlic becomes translucent.
Now add in 2 cups of tomato puree and ½ cup of water. Reduce for 1-2 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed. Add in the the Q&D garam masala and 1½ cups of plain yogurt. Mix through and add the chicken cubes back into the pot and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the chicken is done. Salt to taste.
Served over brown basmati rice with a squeeze of fresh lime. Garnished with cilantro leaves.