Friday, March 16, 2007

Scrumptious Pakistani/Indian Something-or-Other

I don’t know what to call this dish, and I don’t want to make something up for fear that a Pakistani who knows better will stumble across it and leave a critical comment about how I butchered a wonderful standard by crossbreeding it with others. But I didn’t butcher it! It’s delicious and has joined the permanent rotation of meals in our house. I like it best of the Pakistani meals I make. Anyway, it’s chicken in a masala sauce, served with the everpresent naan and basmati—it’s kind of a cross between butter chicken masala (thanks to a yummy recipe from Sandy), chicken bhuna, and the buriyani recipe I use, but it’s none of those exactly.

Mix the following in a large bowl:

1 and ¼ cups plain yogurt

1 tablespoon garlic paste (finely chop/crush about 4-5 garlic cloves)

1 tablespoon ginger paste (do the same to some ginger root)

¾ tsp. hot chilli powder or cayenne powder, or to taste

¼ tsp. ground cloves

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon garam masala (a spice blend found in most grocery stores, or make your own blend from the handful of internet recipes out there)

½ tsp. tumeric powder

1 tsp. dried cilantro leaves (use a few tablespoons of fresh in summertime)

½ tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. cardamom powder (very expensive unless you can find it, like I do, at a place like Sweeney’s Meat Market five minutes across the Susquehanna River. Tone’s brand, ground cardamom, .45 oz, for $1.20. Woohoo!)

a pinch of black pepper

salt, to taste

* The spices aren’t always these exact measurements. I sometimes increase the sweet spices and decrease the hot spices, or vice versa.

Add a large can or two of diced tomatoes (I use tomatoes I canned last summer, almost a quart jar—about 3 cups or 24 oz)

Stir together until blended and then add 4-8 skinless (and boneless, if desired) chicken pieces (eight if using mixed parts; four if using breast halves). Make a few cuts in the chicken and stir to coat. Refrigerate for four hours or overnight.

Place in an ovenproof dish (I use a 13X9 glass pan) and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until chicken is fully cooked. My oven runs hot, so it only takes about 30-45 minutes for boneless, skinless breasts, and a bit more when I cut up a whole chicken and leave the bone in.

While chicken is baking, soak and cook the basmati rice (about 2 cups dry) and prepare the naan. Serve over rice with hot naan.

Makes enough for yummy leftovers on the following morning

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