Has it really been 3 weeks since my last post? The holidays were a bit of a whirlwind this year. Then I lost myself in what may be one of the best books I’ve ever read. It was 900 pages of I can’t possibly put this down even though my bus stop is here/my lunch break is running long/I should really go to bed. The book? Shantaram, the story of an Australian man who escapes a high security prison and finds himself living in a Bombay slum. It’s an epic novel. The kind that takes you on countless journeys to unexpected places and covers the spectrum of human experience. It’s the kind of book that stays with you even after you’ve put it down. Needless to say, I was cut off from the world until I reach the last page. That also meant I ordered a lot of takeout. Usually Indian. Partly because I was reading a book based in India. But mostly because I love the leftovers.
Now that the New Year is upon us, well, my Seamless bill is running a bit high. An app that delivers delicious Indian food to your doorstep in less than 30 minutes is entirely too convenient (and rough on the budget). It was becoming a Sunday tradition, but one that could afford to skip a week or two once in a while. So this past weekend I set out to create my favorite dish. While it may not be an authentic Indian dish (its origins are often traced back to the United Kingdom), it’s a damn good one that’s easy to make and tastes even better the second day as leftovers.
The recipe calls for red chile powder. I recommend using a kashmiri chile powder which contributes a mild heat and bright red color. If it’s not available, it is possible to subsitute with paprika and cayenne to taste. For a mild sauce, use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or omit entirely.
Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours, up to overnight.
3 tablespoons ghee, clarified butter, or oil
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 green chiles, stem and seeds removed, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon red chile powder
1/2 cup tomato paste
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek
3/4 cup English Porter
1/2 cup full-fat yogurt or heavy cream
Heat butter (or oil, if using) in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens. Add garlic, ginger, and green chiles; cook until onions begin to brown. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, chile powder, and tomato paste; cook, stirring often, until fragrant and tomato paste turns brick-red in color. Stir in beer. Reduce heat to low; add tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, for 15 to 20 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, turn the broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with oil. Remove chicken from bowl, shaking off any excess marinade, and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Place on the top rack beneath the broiler and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating once halfway through cook time. When ready, the chicken will be slightly charred around the edges.
Stir yogurt (or cream, if using) and fenugreek into the sauce then add the cooked chicken. Continue to simmer until chicken is fully cooked. Serve with basmati rice, naan bread, and an English Pale Ale.