Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Chicken with Spiced Yogurt Sauce and Roasted Cauliflower

Where would all us cooks, amateur and professional alike be without spices? Can you imagine a world without them? Cinnamon, cumin, pepper, turmeric, coriander, mustard, the list goes on and on.  If they all disappeared our culinary world would certainly be a sad, bland place and many cuisines would be unrecognizable.

Indian food would arguably suffer the most in such an alternate reality. The way spices are mixed, rubbed, sprinkled and infused into every corner of an Indian dish is truly an art form in itself when done well.  To duplicate (or at least approximate) at home the flavors found at good Indian restaurants is not all that difficult.  A well stocked spice drawer is all you need, well, that and the willingness for your house to smell like an Indian restaurant for a several hours after dinner is over, which in my opinion is not such a bad thing.  The recipes below make use of many of the most common spices found in Indian food and little else, so you really get a good example of how powerful these colorful powders can be.

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Roasted Cauliflower (adapted from Bon Appetit)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 large head cauliflower
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger

1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
Chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Core the cauliflower and then break apart the florets into bite sized pieces. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil and all the spices, then add the cauliflower, season with salt and pepper and toss to give the florets an even coating of spice mixture. Line a large sheet pan with foil (for easier cleanup) and arrange the cauliflower in a single layer, then roast for around 15 minutes or until the edges have started to brown. Transfer to a large plate or serving bowl and sprinkle with the parsley, lime zest and ginger before serving.

Chicken With Spiced Yogurt Sauce (adapted from Mark Bittman)
2 tbs olive oil
2 pounds chicken legs, skin on (drumsticks and/or thighs)
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 tbs chopped garlic
1/2 tbs grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper
1 cup plain yogurt

Put the oil in a large saute pan with a lid  and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and brown it well, rotating and turning the pieces as necessary to brown all sides.  You may want to use a splatter screen for this step, or at least wear an apron.  When done, remove the chicken to a plate and add the onions to the pan.  Cook for around 5 minutes until the onions have started to soften and then add all the spices, the garlic and ginger.  Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring for another minute.  Stir in the yogurt and then put the chicken back into the pan. Cover and reduce the heat to low simmer and cook, turning the chicken occasionally until cooked through, around 15 minutes.  Serve over rice with the roasted cauliflower on the side.

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