Two Winners

Friday, February 12, 2010

My first foray into Indian cuisine, Chicken Tikka Masala, was at my wife's urging: It's what she usually orders when we go out for Indian. For this latest pair of recipes, it was my turn to choose, so I went with something close to what I usually order, Tandoori Chicken, and paired it with an interesting recipe for curried spinach that I found by accident -- I believe while looking up a spice substitution for the chicken.

As usual, I make spice substitutions to accommodate what is convenient or most easily available to me and look for ways to save time or make the steps flow better. Most notably -- some may say, egregiously -- I use butter rather than ghee in the spinach, and I broil the chicken. The original chicken recipe (linked below) calls for grilling or baking. No grilling for me since the move from Texas, and baking strikes me as a great way to produce dry meat. Since broiling has worked so well for the Chicken Tikka Masala meat (which I always sample when making that), I adopted it for the chicken. Given the choice, I'd grill the chicken, but this was still so good that I'm posting it after making it only one time.

My wife was highly skeptical of the spinach when I showed her the recipe, but we both loved that, too. If you make them together, which I recommend, start the spinach shortly after you start cooking the meat. Finally, don't be fooled by the long ingredient lists. Both dishes are actually quite easy to make.

-- CAV


Tandoori Chicken
(adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

Preparation Time is 15 minutes on day 1 and 45 minutes on day 2.


olive oil, 2 tbsp
onion powder, 1 1/2 tsp
minced garlic, 2 tbsp
ginger paste, 2 tbsp
black pepper, 1/2 tsp
cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp
paprika, 1 tbsp
salt, 1 1/2 tsp
cumin, 1 tsp
turmeric, 1 tsp
coriander, 1 tsp
garam masala, 1 tsp
yogurt, plain, 1 cup
lemon juice, 1 tbsp
chicken pieces, boneless and skinless, around 8


Day 1

1. In a large, sealable mixing bowl, thoroughly blend the oil, spices, yogurt, and lemon juice.

2. Cut any breasts in half and slash each chicken piece several times with a knife. Place in bowl with marinade.

3. Coat chicken evenly, rubbing the marinade into the holes and slits.

4. Seal bowl with lid and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2

5. Preheat grill or adjust broiler rack to 6-8 inches from the top of the oven and turn broiler to high.

6. If broiling, spread aluminum foil on baking sheet.

7. Remove chicken from marinade, scraping off any excess. If grilling, save bowl of marinade for basting.

8. If grilling, proceed to step 9. Otherwise, broil the chicken, turning every five or six minutes four or five times and basting as necessary, until just cooked through and browned in spots and juices run clear. Skip step 9.

9. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Place on the grill and cook for 8 to 10 minutes on the first side. Turn, baste as needed, and cook on the second side for 8 to 10 minutes. Turn and continue cooking, as necessary until the chicken is cooked through, but still tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.


Palak Masala (Palak ka Saag, or Curried Spinach)
(adapted from An Indian Kitchen in France)

Preparation Time is about 25 minutes.


frozen spinach, chopped, 10 oz. box
olive oil, 3 tsp
onion, large
tomatoes, medium, 2
cardamom, 1/2 tsp
ginger paste, 1 tsp
minced garlic, 1 tsp
turmeric, 1/2 tsp
chili powder, 1/2 tsp
cayenne, 1/4 tsp
paprika, 1/4 tsp
coriander, 1/2 tsp
garam masala, 1/2 tsp
salt, about 3/4 tsp
butter, 1 tbsp


1. In parallel with the next step, defrost the spinach.

2. Finely chop the onion and set aside in a bowl.

3. Chop the tomatoes and set aside.

4. In parallel with the next step, heat the oil in a large frying pan, then add the cardamom. When you detect its aroma, add the onions and fry until they start to go from a golden brown to a darker brown.

5. Mise en place: Ginger and garlic together in a small bowl, and the dry spices together in a small bowl.

6. Add the ginger and garlic pastes, fry for a couple more minutes.

7. Add tomatoes and fry until oil starts to appear on the sides.

8. Add the dry spices and fry for a minute.

9. Add the spinach, season with salt, and cook, covered, until the leaves are soft.

10. About a minute before removing pan from heat, add butter, and mix thoroughly.


: Changed note on basting to apply to grilling only.


Lynne said...

All printed out and ready to hand to the chef. We have a tandoori chicken recipe now - I'll let you know how they compare. I'm very curious about the curried spinach.

Gus Van Horn said...

And if yours is better, by all means let me know!

Hope you enjoy the spinach!