Anjum Anand is on a crusade to change the way we look at Indian food. Her mission is to familiarize Western cooks with ingredients and techniques as well as lightening up classic dishes. This Kashmiri Chicken from her recently released Anjum's New Indian does both by creating a simple to put together dish that relies on an array of spices and vegetables for flavor instead of fat.
This dish begins like many in Anjum's New Indian: Whole spices get a brief sauté in hot oil, onions are browned, and a purée of garlic and ginger is added to the pan. Next up are puréed tomatoes and ground spices and finally pieces of chicken. While the chicken cooks, the sauce reduces into a multilayered tomatoey gravy that although rich in flavors and spice, retains a wonderful lightness. I chose chicken thighs, but a whole, cut up chicken would do nicely as well.
Adapted from Anjum's New Indian. Copyright © 2010. Published by Mariner Books. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves
- 6 green cardamom pods
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 1 small–medium onion, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
- Salt, to taste
- 3/4 teaspoons pure red chile powder (or paprika or Kashmiri chile powder, for color)
- 1 rounded teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 rounded teaspoon ground coriander
- 3 medium–large tomatoes, puréed
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken pieces or 4 leg quarters, skinned
Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan and add the whole spices; let them splutter for 15 seconds. Add the onion and cook until golden. Meanwhile, using a blender, make a fine paste of the ginger and garlic with a little water. Add to the pan and cook until the excess liquid has evaporated and the paste has fried for 30 seconds. Add the salt, powdered spices and tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until oil is released from the masala sauce, around 10–15 minutes.
Add 3/4 cup water and bring to the boil, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the chicken pieces and cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, around 25 minutes. Take off the lid and add a splash of water from a recently boiled kettle if the gravy has reduced too much or, if necessary, cook off excess liquid over high heat. Serve with rice.