Monday, August 30, 2010

Chicken Ja-what?

It's ok to add Mexican hot sauce to spice up your Indian food... I, personally, give you permission.

Mmm... I love Indian food. When I first start eating at Indian Palace on Madison, (best Indian food in Memphis, I do believe) I had no clue how/what to order. I usually relied on my Indian foodie friend to order a bunch of delicious entrees, and happily sampled a bit of each until I figured what I did and did not like. I often referred to my favorite Indian dishes according to their color... i.e. "Sam, let's go to Indian Palace! I'm completely craving the orange stuff and the green stuff with cheese in it!" Now I know that the "green stuff" I loved is traditionally know as Paleek Paneer, and the proper name for the "orange stuff" is Chicken Tikka Masala. If you had asked me what Chicken Tikka Masala was at the time, I probably would have told you "I bet it's like the Indian version of Chicken Marsala!" Eeek... not so much.

orange stuff   Chicken Tikka Masala
green stuff   Paleek Paneer
brown stuff  Daal Masala

So lately I've been revisiting the early seasons of The Office (don't worry, we'll come full circle with the Indian food soon, go with it.) Steve Carrell is hilarious, but after Jim and Pam finally got together I kinda lost interest. I still find season 2 and 3 to be the highlight of the series thus far. Kelly Kapoor was always one of my favorite characters, and according to a Facebook quiz that I once took... she is the character that I'm most similar to. Do with that information what you will, ha! In season 3, we get to learn a bit about Indian culture (or as much as you can learn from a 30 minute NBC comedy) as the episode focused on the Hindu celebration of Diwali. The episode is full of funny moments, mainly watching uptight Angela experience another culture. The episode is also full of Indian food (mmm.... Naan.) Due to my budget at the moment, I couldn't head to Indian Palace for their FABULOUS lunch buffet. It's a reasonable price of $7.50 a person, but I'm pinching pennies lately. When I'm not though, I turn to Indian Palace to fill my belly with a wide variety of classic Indian dishes... a great way to introduce your picky hesitant boyfriend to this fabulous and exotic cuisine.

Lucky for me, a couple of years ago I attended a progressive dinner party and a fellow foodie friend decided to take a more ethnic approach. She made Chicken Jalfrezi. It's essentially India's answer to Chinese stir-fry, with yellow curry being the star of the show. I think it's delicious, in taste and appearance... some who aren't familiar with Indian cuisine may beg to differ on it's aesthetic appeal. On the nutrition scale - it's pretty great for you: whole grains (I serve mine on whole wheat cous cous, with some wheat pita bread on the side,) double source of protein (from the chicken and chickpeas,) veggies, fruits (yes, people... tomatoes ARE a fruit contrary to popular belief,) and healthy fat (courtesy of the olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fats.) There isn't any dairy though, which is good if you're living it up vegan-style these days. You could have some organic yogurt with fresh berries for dessert for an all around well-balanced meal. Or you could just drink a glass of milk with dinner... if you were one of those kids that grew up drinking milk with spaghetti or pizza. I, however, was not one of those kids. I'll save my glass of milk for my next bowl of cereal... or cookie.    ;)

Up close and personal... as you can tell, I got a little crazy with the Cholula hot sauce :) 

Chicken Jalfrezi
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. cumin
*1 onion, finely chopped                               
*1 green pepper, finely chopped
*1 red pepper, finely chopped
*1 yellow  pepper, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 in. piece of ginger root, chopped
1 1/2 Tb. curry
1/2 tsp. chili pepper
1 1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp salt
14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/4 fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 cans chickpeas (aka garbonzo beans)

- Remove any visible fat from the chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Heal oil in a large skillet or wok. Add cumin, onion, garlic, peppers, and ginger. Saute for about 6-8 minutes.
- Add remaining spices and 1 Tb. water. Stir-fry for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chicken to vegetable mix, stir-fry for about 5 minutes until fully cooked, and juices run clear.
- Add the tomatoes and cilantro, cover and cook for at least 15 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with more fresh cilantro, serve over whole wheat cous cous or brown rice.

Recipe Beginnings = genius

*SHORTCUT: I luuuuurve Kroger's Recipe Beginnings - saves me chopping time, AND bonus - frozen vegetables are actually frozen at their peak freshness. So while the fresh peppers in the produce aisle may have spent a couple of days on a delivery truck en route to your grocery store (ergo, gradually losing those important nutrients that we all need...) the frozen version is chock full of vitamins and minerals. Let's be honest... isn't that why we were all told to eat our spinach and broccoli as kids. I'm pretty sure my dad always told my brothers that it would make them grow chest hair. Maybe that's why I wasn't too fond of broccoli early on in life...


  1. Lovely!! Great food pics. Although I refuse to accept tomatoes as fruit. I have liked every fruit I've ever tried and I hate tomatoes.

  2. I've never tried Chicken Jalfrezi @ Taj India or Silver Coin . . . but looks tasty! and fun to say!!


    Keep up the good work!!!

  3. This is the best blog ever! You are an inspired and inspiring woman - you should have your own cooking show!