Monday, September 5, 2011

Dinner Party Series: A Feast from India (Chicken with Spiced Spinach)

If you missed yesterday's post, Dollinks, you must read it! This is the second of several postings about how to make a complete Indian meal, as related to me by South Asian home chef Kuldip Ardawa. Kuldip lives in the Surrey/Delta area of British Columbia, Canada. She does home catering and offers private cooking lessons. If you'd like to contact her, drop me a line through this blog.

Chicken with Spiced Spinach:
1 tbsp. oil
1 large whole breast of chicken, skinned and boned
½ small onion, finely diced 
3 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered (Kuldip uses fresh, organic garlic for the best flavor)
1 piece of ginger, ½ - 1 in. in length, peeled and chopped fine
3 - 6 small green jalapeño peppers, chopped (see Note)
1 tbsp. cumin seeds
½ tsp. turmeric
1-½ tsp. garam masala (see Note)
1 pkg frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (or, steam and finely chop 1 bunch fresh spinach, steaming and squeezing dry)
Salt, to taste
Water, as needed
Heat oil in skillet until sizzling. Dice chicken, adding to oil in pan. Salt to taste and stir-fry until all pinkness is gone, liquid from chicken has completely evaporated, and chicken appears dry.  Set aside in small bowl. In same skillet, sauté onion, garlic, ginger, jalapeño peppers, and spices until first four ingredients have softened. Add well-squeezed spinach, stirring until mixture is very dry and no water remains. Add the chicken to the spinach, stirring to evenly combine the chicken and the spinach. On high heat, add just enough water to create steam as the spinach cooks. Salt to taste. Return chicken to pan, stirring 2 min. to combine flavors. Keep warm until ready to serve. Serves 3 - 4.

Note: Although I’m not a huge fan of hot, spicy foods, the three jalapeño peppers Kuldip used in this recipe provided a mild pleasant balance of flavors. For more of a “kick” with this dish, she suggests using six peppers. Kuldip recommends that you choose peppers well-filled with seeds, because that’s where the heat is. Peppers with a pointed end will have a greater concentration of heat; peppers get hotter as the summer and early fall progress. I recommend you wear disposable latex gloves when chopping any hot peppers.
Note: Garam masala is a powdered mixture of Indian spices widely used in Indian cooking. If you can’t find it in the ethnic foods section of your local supermarket, check South Asian food stores or order it online.

Dice onion, garlic, ginger, peppers.
Add cumin seeds and other spices to above; set aside.
Fry chicken until pink disappears and chicken is dry.

Set chicken aside; fry onion, garlic, ginger, peppers, spices.
Add puréed, very dry spinach to spiced onion mixture.
Add water as needed to steam spinach and chicken ...
Return chicken to steaming pan, allowing flavors to blend.
Keep warm in a covered dish in the oven until ready to serve.

Tomorrow: Paneer with Peas.

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