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  • Punjabi Chile Chicken

    YIELD: 4–6 SERVINGS
    TOOLS: You’ll need an 8-inch / 20-cm frying pan; 2 plates; a mortar and pestle or spice grinder; a food processor; 3 small mixing bowls; and a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart / 6-L sauté pan with a lid.
    VEGANIZE IT! Substitute 24 to 28 ounces / 680 to 790 g of tempeh, extra-firm organic tofu, or seitan, cut in 2-inch / 5-cm cubes, for the chicken. Follow the above steps, but reduce the cooking times in Steps 9 and 10 to about 15 minutes total. Bake your tofu to achieve extra texture.

    This is the real Punjabi deal: spicy, complex, and delicious. It’s one of my husband’s favorite dishes and one that you’ll make a staple in your home as well.

    • 2 heaping tablespoons coriander seeds
    • 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
    • 1 cup /100 g ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
    • 1 cup /140 g peeled garlic cloves
    • 2½ cups plus 1 tablespoon /590 mL water, divided
    • 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
    • 5 tablespoons /75 mL vegetable oil, divided
    • 4 pounds /1.81 g skinless whole bone-in chicken, cut into 8–10 pieces (including cutting each breast in ½), or 2 pounds / 910 g boneless chicken
    • 2 (3-inch / 8-cm) sticks cinnamon
    • 6 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
    • 2 tablespoons Garam Masala
    • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • 6–15 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and sliced in half lengthwise
    • Brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan, for serving
    1. Place the coriander seeds in an 8-inch / 20-cm frying pan over medium–high heat and dry roast for 5 minutes, until the seeds turn reddish-brown and become aromatic. During the entire cooking time, shake the pan every 15 to 20 seconds to prevent the spices from burning. When roasting spices, never leave the pan unattended—they burn easily. Remove from the heat, transfer to a plate, and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
    2. Transfer the roasted seeds to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind them into a powder.
    3. In the bowl of a food processor, grind the onion into a watery paste. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and set aside. No need to clean the food processor bowl in between. Add the ginger, garlic, and the 1 tablespoon of water to the food processor bowl and grind into a watery paste. Transfer to a second small mixing bowl and set aside. Again, no need to clean. Add the tomato to the food processor bowl and grind into a watery paste. Transfer to a third small mixing bowl and set aside.
    4. In a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart / 6-L sauté pan over medium–high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the chicken and sear, turning once to ensure even cooking, for a total of 4 minutes, until slightly browned. Transfer the chicken and any scrapings from the bottom of the pan to a plate and set aside.
    5. Return the sauté pan to medium–high heat and warm the remaining 3 tablespoons / 45 mL of oil. Add the cinnamon and cardamom and cook for 1 minute, until slightly browned.
    6. Carefully add the onion paste from Step 3 to the sauté pan. The moisture from the onion can splatter, so keep the lid handy. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan constantly, for 3 minutes, until slightly browned.
    7. Add the ginger paste from Step 3 to the sauté pan and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the ground tomato from Step 3 and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. At this point, the mixture will start to thicken and the oil will start to pull away from the edges.
    8. Reduce the heat to medium and add 1 cup / 240 mL of the water to the sauté pan. Simmer for 4 minutes. Add the ground coriander from Step 2, the Garam Masala, the salt, the red chile powder, the fresh chiles, and 1 cup / 240 mL of the water and cook for 4 minutes, until the sauce thickens a bit. We love this dish spicy, and when we make it at home, I use 15 chiles. Tone it down as needed.
    9. Slowly, carefully return the chicken to the sauté pan. Add the remaining ½ cup / 120 mL of water and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, turning the chicken pieces once to ensure even cooking.
    10. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and cook for 30 minutes, until the chicken has cooked through. Remove from the heat. Stir well and remove and discard the whole spices.
    11. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with the brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

© 2016 Alta Editions LLC.