Bindya Bedi’s chicken curry

Adapted from The Age and read at NewsELA

  • 1 kilogram chicken thighs 

Ingredients for the marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons of ginger garlic paste 
  • 1 squeeze of lime 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt 
  • 1 tbsp ghee

Ingredients for the curry:

  • 1/4 cup of neutral oil (coconut oil or ghee, my pref)
  • 4 medium-sized brown onions, peeled and roughly chopped 
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled 
  • 2 cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely diced 
  • 1 to 2 green chillies (we used 1 Jalapeño chili pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick 
  • 4 to 5 cardamom pods 
  • 8 to 10 peppercorns 
  • 4 to 5 cloves
  • 4 tomatoes, or 1/2 a cup of tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder 
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander 
  • 1 teaspoon ground garam masala 
  • Salt, to taste 
  • cilantro, to garnish

Directions:

  1. In a large glass bowl, marinate the chicken thighs in the ginger garlic paste, lime juice and salt. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestle (or food processor?) to grind the onions, garlic, ginger and green chillies to a paste and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the cumin seeds. Roughly pound all of the whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns and cloves) and add to the oil. Once they start to make popping sounds, add the onion paste. Heat over a low flame, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a golden-brown paste and the oil starts to separate. 
  3. Next, add the tomatoes, salt to taste, turmeric, red chili powder, and ground coriander. Cook until the tomatoes just start to form a paste. Add the chicken, garam masala and 1/2 cup of water. Bring the curry to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover with a lid and continue to cook over a medium heat.
  4. After 20 to 25 minutes, uncover the pan and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until the water evaporates and the curry starts to thicken. Once the curry is ready, switch the flame off.
  5. Serve with your choice of naan or basmati rice and top with fresh cilantro leaves, if desired.

I read this in a NewsELA article, which I subscribed to as a science teacher. They offer loads of readable current news, including in science and health and social justice. Some changes from the original recipe: we used organic coconut oil, although I would have been equally happy with ghee. We speeded things up with using a garlic press and grater for the ginger for the marinade paste, and added a coconut oil to keep the chickens moist. I ran out of whole cloves, so I added some black mustard seed for appearances. And rather than the mortar and pestle method for the onion-garlic-ginger-chili mixture, we used a smoothie blender. We did use the mortar and pestle to grind the whole spices though! Make sure you turn on your ventilation — these are some powerful aromas when you start frying!

***Marinade reminder: we mixed ACID (lime) + SALT + OIL (ghee) + HERBS/SEASONINGS/SUGAR (ginger / garlic) + TIME (30 minutes).***

~Jessica

Palak paneer (aka saag paneer)

Adapted from Spice Cravings and Kitchen of Debjani

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon ghee (ghee / coconut oil blend)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup onion (1 medium onion, chopped)
  • 1 green chili (optional: Habanero)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (thought I had it, but it was actually milder Madras curry powder)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder (I used paprika!)
  • 12 oz. baby spinach (2 boxes of organic)
  • 1 cup water
  • 100 ml. fresh cream
  • 10 oz. paneer, 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp. kasuri methi (I couldn’t find)

Directions:

  1. Heat a deep sauce pan on medium high heat.
  2. Add oil and cumin seeds (I used black mustard seeds instead). When the seeds begin to sizzle, add crushed ginger and garlic.  Add sliced onion and green chili, and sauté for a minute. Add the tomato.
  3. Add salt, spices and stir well. Then, add 3/4 cup water, stir, cover the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Open the lid and add 1/2 the baby spinach and stir to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining spinach and wilt for around 2 minutes. Sauté for another minute. Turn off the heat.
  5. Using a hand blender puree the spinach mix.  Add a little water if needed. Add 1/2 the cream.
  6. Turn the heat back on to medium, add paneer cubes and simmer for 1 min, till paneer cubes become soft. Turn off the heat. Stir in butter and the other 1/2 cream, this adds a silky smooth finish to the sauce, and gives it a gorgeous shine.
  7. Serve hot with cumin basmati rice or naan. Enjoy!

No Insta Pot here, I’m afraid. We made na’an to go with it! Baking adventures. It was an adventure finding a Pakistani store on the day before Puerto Rican Independence Day, to find frozen paneer. Also since we had less spinach, we added a couple of parboiled potatoes, so… palak aloo paneer! Coming up next: the na’an recipe.

~Jessica

Murgh makhani (Indian butter chicken)

Adapted from Little Spice Jar and Urvashi Pitre

Chicken Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes (we used tomatoes on the vine)
  • 5 or 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
  • 4 ounces butter, cut into cubes, or ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup yogurt (original: full-fat coconut milk)
  • ¼ to ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the tandoori masala, ginger, garlic, and yogurt. Whisk until smooth, adjust seasonings to preference. Add the chicken and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes and ideally for 12-24 hours, covered in the refrigerator. We marinated overnight.
  2. Heat the ghee (we used butter) in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they turn translucent and start to sweat, about 5-7 minutes — don’t allow the onions to brown! Add ginger and garlic paste and let cook for 30 seconds, stirring so it doesn’t burn. Add the crushed tomatoes along with the chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder and continue to cook for 5 minutes, if the mixture starts bubbling rapidly, add about ¼ cup of water and continue to cook.
  3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the dutch oven over medium heat. Add the marinated chicken (discard any excess marinade) and cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring as required to brown all sides.
  4. Add the butter chicken sauce to the pot and heat everything through. Once it starts to bubble, add the cream (we used whole plain yogurt) and garam masala. When the sauce regains a simmer, add the crushed fenugreek leaves (we didn’t have! Darn COVID-19 pandemic). Serve over basmati rice or with naan.

(Hindi: मुर्ग़ मक्खनी) according to Wiki. “The subtle difference between Paneer Butter Masala and Shahi paneer is that more of whole spices are used in Paneer Butter Masala whereas Shahi paneer has a sweeter taste when compared to Paneer Butter Masala.” (Wiki) Pitre’s recipe was even featured in The New Yorker! Jesse cooked this really well, and even set timers and things. We did not have an Instant Pot.

~Jessica