Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spinach Dahl & Curried Chicken

I am by no means an expert on Indian cuisine, nor have I ever been to India. I do, however, enjoy Indian food. Usually when I go out to an Indian restaurant I order something standardly American, like Chicken Tikka Masala (basically the Pad Thai of Indian food in America). But when I cook Indian food at home, I almost always make Spinach Dahl and Curried Chicken. What I've learned along the way, is it's all about the spices.

Spinach Dahl
(Adapted from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook)

1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch cayenne
2 cups green lentils, rinsed
5 cups water
8 cups fresh baby spinach (one package)
sea salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a 4 or 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft. Add ginger and spices and sauté about 30 seconds more. 2. Add rinsed lentils and water, stir, cover, and simmer for about 40 minutes or until lentils are cooked through. 3. Add spinach and sea salt to taste. Add more cayenne if desired. Serve over brown rice.

Curried Chicken
(Disclaimer: these measurements are estimates; I usually just add what looks "right." 
My dear friend Madeleine learned how to cook curry when she lived in India, and she taught me that the secret is not in the measurement, but in method.)

1.5 lb chicken breast
1 tbs. coconut oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. yellow curry powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. garam masala
sea salt to taste

1. Cut chick into cubes. 2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and toss to coat. Add curry powder, cumin, and turmeric and saute for a minute or two to cook the spices and bring out their flavors. 3. Add chicken and stir to coat with spices. Cook until done. (Sometimes about half way through cooking I like to add a little fresh cracked black pepper) 4. When chicken is done, turn off heat and add garam masala and salt to taste. The garam masala compliments the curry really well, and the salt brings out the flavor of the curry.

These recipes are very simple and easy to make, but so delicious and flavorful! It's a fun meal to serve to guests, too. When I have leftovers to bring to work, the smell of my lunch always makes my coworkers hungry and jealous. I usually make a big pot of the dahl and freeze what I don't eat in Ziploc bags to thaw out later for a quick dinner when I don't feel like cooking.

Enjoy making Indian food at home!

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