My first Indian meal was in London about twenty years ago. They brought a tower of sauces and dips to the table with naan. It all looked so exotic and exciting. Unfortunately, my only memory of that meal is my mouth was on fire. Everything was intensely spicy. The kind of unpleasant heat that covers up any flavor the food might have had. It was not an enjoyable dinner.
I steered clear of Indian food for many years, until I was taken for an Indian dinner in Los Angeles. I entrusted my husband to order, promising me a delicious dinner. All I was hoping for was lots of naan and a cold beer to cool the impending fire. We were still in the dating phase and I wanted to seem worldly and cool. Inside I was thinking, “there’s an In and Out around the corner… a cheeseburger would be just fine.” I’m so glad I kept my mouth shut and went along with the plan – dinner was awesome. No fire, just a festival of amazing spices and flavors. I don’t know what we had, I just remember I loved it.
Fast forward and we finally have a couple of good Indian restaurants in our area. Indian has become a part of our regular out-to-dinner-rotation. It’s a favorite with the kids, too. Determined to figure out how to prepare Indian here at home, I’ve built up my spice collection to include just about everything I need to whip up an Indian style meal. Emphasis on the word “style.” By no means am I saying I can make traditional Indian fare, but this chicken dish got raves reviews from my family. One last note, Indian food can be heavy. Making this at home allowed me to control the oil and calories – a good reason to give Indian cooking a try.
INGREDIENTS (Serves 4-6)
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1 1/2 tbsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp cardamom seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- Pinch hot chili powder
- Kosher salt & pepper
- 1.5 pounds ground chicken
- Juice 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 10oz frozen green peas
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Sliced hot green chilies, for serving (I used fresh jalapeño)
- 2 scallions, light green and dark green parts only sliced
Add the grapeseed oil to a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Saute the onions until they begin to turn golden in color. Add the garlic and ginger, stirring for about a minute. Add the spices and stir until everything is coated and the spices cook in the pan for about a minute. Add the ground chicken, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, stirring the mixture around until the chicken is cooked through and properly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the chicken stock and lemon juice, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add in the peas and stir, allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. Reseason with additional salt if needed.
Serve with basmati rice, lemon wedges, chopped scallions and sliced chilies. I like to place each garnish in a little bowl on the table so everyone can help themselves.
* Remove the seeds from the chilies to reduce the heat or omit the chilies altogether if you don’t want it spicy.
** I always add a smashed clove of garlic and a piece of fresh ginger to my basmati rice as it cooks. It adds such nice flavor. Just remember to remove them before serving.