Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Green Chicken Masala | January 20, 2010

When Jason and I were visiting DC for our honeymoon, we had a late dinner at Rasika, an upscale Indian restaurant.  We enjoyed creative cocktails, delicious palak chaat (a crispy spinach dish, sooooo good), chicken tikka masala, garlic naan, and some incredibly spicy goan fish curry (with the most perfectly cooked mahi mahi I’ve ever had).  The real star of the meal, though, was the green chicken masala that Jason ordered.  The meat was tender, the sauce was simultaneously spicy and refreshing…it was just a superb dish.

Since Jason couldn’t stop talking about his delicious meal, I decided to search for something similar to make at home.  Lo and behold, in a back issue of Food and Wine, I found Chef Vikram Sunderam’s recipe for green chicken masala.  Victory!  I gathered up all of the ingredients and set to work.  The recipe itself is quite simple, with “saute, simmer, and stir” being the primary cooking method.  The herbs and spices made the kitchen smell so damn good, and as I was winding down with the preparations, I absolutely couldn’t wait to dive into my exciting, restaurant-quality dinner.

Well…close, but no cigar.

The dish was very tasty, and the chicken was crazy tender, but there was really no spicy kick at all.  I was somewhat suspicious when I read the recipe and it only called for one seeded jalapeno, so now I know to trust my instinct and use something hotter.  I should have known that a mainstream mag would dumb the dish down somewhat, to account for those who have a low spice threshold.  Despite the lack of tongue-scorching, I definitely want to make this dish again and see if I can get it closer to the real thing.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  • 2 cups cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 jalapeño, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (1 3/4 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • Kosher salt
  • Basmati rice, for serving

In a blender, combine the cilantro, mint, jalapeño, garlic, lemon juice and water and puree until smooth.  In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and turmeric and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden in spots, about 7 minutes. Add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves and cook for 1 minute. Add the cilantro puree and coconut milk, season with salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is slightly reduced and the chicken is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Serve with basmati rice.

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