As food evaluators, we look for one important thing when we taste food- how many different drivers or dimensions one can perceive individually while tasting the food. Are you geting one common note or are the individual ingredients managing to express harmoniously and simultaneously blending with each other.
Let's say you are used to strawberry icecream and I add some percentage of apple to it in such a way that you cannot recognize the apple but can perceive something different - familiar but cannot pinpoint what it is. That means I have added a different dimension to the usual strawberry- something that may make you want to come back to the same icecream again and again.
This is what first struck me when our office chef made this recipe of chicken. The various spices are in such a proportion that one can perceive the ingredients really well.
The almond contributes to the creaminess without disturbing the salt balance. Cashews tend to make it sweet, I am told.
Surprising thing was that the recommended cooking medium is mustard oil- I thought this was typical Bihari, Punjabi & Bengali- but Nepali?
OOPS OF THE DAY- I PRINTED THE WRONG RECIPE
Here's teh creamy chicken recipe that had impressed me.
2 lbs. Chicken breast, cut into 1-in. strips
4 cloves garlic
1 in. ginger
3 fresh red chilies
1/2 cup almonds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon mustard oil
1 bay leaf
1 in. cinnamon stick
5 green cardamoms, crushed
2 cups onions, finely chopped
1 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper Salt to taste
4 teaspoons clarified butter
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro for garnish
Grind garlic, ginger, chilies, almonds, coriander and cumin seeds with water to form paste. Salt and pepper chicken. Heat one tablespoon musturd oil in a non-stick pan, and brown chicken. Transfer chicken to a bowl. Drain and clean the pan, heat clarified butter. Add cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaf, and cardomoms. Fry for 30 sec., and add onions. Sautee the onions till brown.
Transfer the almond paste to the onion mixture. Stir for about 2 min. till the oil separates. Add yogurt, mix well to a consistent mixture. Transfer the browned chicken to the yogurt sauce. Cook in low heat till chicken is tender and the almnd sauce is thickened. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with roti, or rice.
2 lbs. chicken, black and white, skinned, boned, and cut into 1.5-in. cubes
3 cups onion, chopped
2 cups yogurt
2 cups chicken stock
5 cardamom, bruised
1 in. cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
4 tablespoons mustard oil
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro for garnish
In large bowl, combine chicken pieces, pepper, turmeric, and salt; toss well. In a non-stick sauce pan, heat oil. To the hot oil, add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaves; fry for 30 sec. Add chopped onions, and fry until brown. Put garlic and ginger into the onion mixture; fry for 30 sec. To this mixture, add cumin, coriander, chili powder, and grated nutmeg. Mix them well for a minute or so on low heat. Increase the heat to medium, and transfer chicken pieces into the spice mixture; stir well to brown. Add yogurt, chicken stock to the browned chicken. Lower the heat to low and let simmer until chicken pieces are tender, and the sauce has thickened up to a desired consistency, about 35-45 min.
When cooked, turn off the heat and add chopped cilantro to garnish. Serve hot with rice, and or roti.