Indian food is often the go-to cuisine for many of my friends, but I’ve never been a huge fan mostly because many of the Indian food I’ve had either had dried out chicken or too much spices in the curries.
So when I agreed recently to try out a sample spice kit from the online RawSpiceBar, I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t a bit disappointed when that month’s sample spices featured the cuisine of Punjab, India.
RawSpiceBar offers a monthly spice kit that’s mailed to your home, similar to a farmers market vegetable box except everything sent aren’t perishable and fits nicely into a 6X10 envelope. Along with three small spice packets, you receive a couple of recipes to feature the spices.
For the Punjabi spice month, I received three spice bags filled with tandoori, punjabi garam masala and rose chai. The tandoori and masala are used for the Punjabi chicken tikka masala recipe, and the rose chai is for a cookie recipe that I still have to try. The recipes were developed by Chef Vishwa Mohan, executive chef/owner of Bin 941 in Vancouver, B.C. in Canada.
The steps were easy to follow when I made the chicken tikka masala, although it did require a bit of work (it was like creating two dishes because I had to grill the marinated chicken separately from the masala curry). The final dish tasted very authentic, but because I made it fresh at home, the sauce was just right and the chicken wasn’t dried out. (I made half the recipe so I had half the masala spice left over, so I used it to coat some cauliflower that I roasted.)
So playing with RawSpiceBar opened my eyes to the possibilities of Indian food, when made fresh. Now you might have the chance to discover your own spice journey. RawSpiceBar is giving away one three-month spice subscription to one of you.
I’ll pick the winner by seeing if anyone can guess what March’s spice “journey” will focus on. In the comments section, list which country’s spices will be featured. (Hint: it’s a country that has a major holiday that’s celebrated in the month of March.) Contest open to people in the United States only and will close on April 1 or earlier if someone guesses correctly. CONTEST CLOSED: Congratulations to the reader who guessed Persia (I would have accepted Iran) as the featured country in March. (The holiday celebrated by that culture is Nowruz, the festival of spring.)
Punjabi Chicken Tikka Masala
Makes six servings
4 T Tandoori spice
4 T Punjabi garam masala spice
1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 white onions, diced
6 gloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece fresh ginger
28 oz. can whole tomatoes (separate liquid)
3 T vegetable oil
1 cup heavy cream or coconut milk (I used coconut cream)
2 cups whole-milk yogurt
salt and pepper to taste
Bring chicken to room temperature, pat dry to remove liquid. Cut into 1 inch cubes and generously salt
Whisk yogurt in a bowl. Chop or crush garlic cloves and ginger into a paste. Add half of this paste to yogurt. Toast Tandoori spice in saucepan for about 2 minutes to bring back life to the spices, combine ingredients.
Add cubed chicken to yogurt mixture and coat on all sides. Refrigerate and allow chicken to marinate for at least 2 hours or up to 5 hours.
After marinating, thread chicken on bamboo or metal skewers and sear on either a grill, grill pan or broiler over very high heat, about 4 minutes on each side until chicken begins to char (I only had to grill about 2 minutes on each side). Remove from heat and set aside.
Add vegetable oil to Dutch oven over medium-high heat until oil is hot. Add diced onions, reduce heat to medium until golden brown. Add minced garlic and ginger paste and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add Punjabi garam masala spices, cook another 5 minutes.
Increase heat to medium high, and add chopped tomatoes (juice removed) and let brown, about 5 minutes. Add vegetable oil as needed to keep contents moist. Add reserved tomato juice and reduce heat to medium low.
Add cream or coconut milk and allow to simmer for 20 minutes until tomatoes cook down. Add chicken to pot and bring to medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
To finish, add a splash of squeezed lemon and chopped cilantro to each serving. Serve alongside rice or warm naan.
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