1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1" piece stick cinnamon
6-8 black peppercorns
1 medium onion, chopped
Heat the spices over moderate heat in the oil in a small pan until the aroma comes up and the cloves and cinnamon begin to swell (be careful not to burn the spices). This takes only a minute or so. Then add the onion and saute until transparent.
Transfer to a blender or food processor. Add the following:
1 medium tomato
1 (or more) dried hot chiles
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 TBS dried unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup water
Blend to a fine paste, adding more water if necessary.
2 lbs chicken parts, preferable bone-in but skinned, cut into stew-sized chunks
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 TBS oil
1 tsp salt
1. Marinate the chicken in the yogurt for 1/2 hour.
2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onions and garlic until transparent.
3. Add the meat and saute 3-5 minutes.
4. Add the masala and salt. Boil 5 minutes, then simmer covered for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Vegetable oil: olive oil, especially EVOO, will impart a taste and aroma of olives that is unwelcome here. Something like peanut or corn or canola is more suitable. Or ghee.
Spices: The first step in making the masala is roasting the spices to release their aromatic oils. You can substitute an equivalent amount of ground spices if you don't have them whole. Ground spices don't need to be roasted.
Chiles: As written, this recipe is pretty tame in the heat department. Add more dried red chiles (or more peppercorns) to the masala to turn up the heat. Hot ground chiles, such as ground cayenne, is OK to use here. You could also try fresh red or green chiles in the masala.
Coconut: The recipe calls for dried coconut because it's generally easier to find than fresh. If using fresh, shred or roughly grate it first before adding it to the blender. If using dry, make sure it's unsweetened.
Grinding: Traditionally masalas, wet or dry, are ground in a large mortar and pestle. IMO a blender does a better job than a food processor of grinding things to a fine paste.
Meat: According to my Indian cookbooks, Indians prefer to use chicken on the bone, but skinned. The recipe works best with skinless, bone-in chicken cut into stew-sized chunks, but you can use boneless, or keep the skin on, or cut the chicken into the standard 8 western parts (breasts, thighs, legs, wings).
Serving: This is a southern Indian-style dish (note the coconut), so the usual accompaniment would be rice. It goes well with Indian breads as well.
Last edited by Paul Winalski
on Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:53 am, edited 1 time in total.