I was happy that the weather cooled down a little bit so that I could sneak this dinner into our springtime menu. The sauce was beyond creamy and delicious. Typically, this dish is prepared with charcoal-grilled chicken; I loved that this recipe was adapted to make using the broiler instead- perfect in cooler weather.
This recipe was adapted from Let’s Eat by Zaynab Issa, via Bon Appétit. It is a wonderful version of this popular East African-Indian chicken curry. It gave my son, who is studying World History in high school, a moment to review the impact and influences of the Indian Ocean trade routes prior to 1450 with our family. 😉 In Swahili, the trade language formed across the Indian Ocean, Kuku means chicken and Paka means to smear, to spread, or to apply.
The original recipe recommends using boneless thighs but notes that any cut of chicken, or a mix of breasts, tenders, or drumsticks (with pieces of similar size), could be substituted. A mix of vegetables can also be used in lieu of chicken to create a vegetarian version. I served it over rice with steamed spinach. Fast and fabulous.
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
3 to 6 garlic cloves
2 lemons, divided (one for marinade & one for serving)
1 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more (or 2 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika or Kashmiri chile powder
one pinch or dash of cayenne pepper (omit if using Kashmiri chile powder)
1 medium jalapeño or 1–2 green Thai chiles, seeded and ribbed
1/4 cup (packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
1 can (13.5 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
4 T (1/4 cup) heavy cream (can substitute nondairy milk or additional coconut milk)
Basmati rice and/or crusty bread, for serving
Finely grate the garlic cloves into a large bowl with a Microplane; alternatively, a garlic press can be used.
Cut 1 lemon in half and squeeze juice into the bowl; discard seeds.
Mix in 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1 tsp Diamond Crystal) and the smoked paprika and cayenne pepper (or Kashmiri Chile powder).
Add the skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used 10) and toss to evenly coat.
Cover bowl and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the curry base.
Coarsely chop the onion, tomato, chile(s) (depending on how spicy your chiles are and your heat tolerance), and cilantro. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend or process until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
Place an oven rack in the highest position. Heat the broiler. (I set my oven to Broiler+Max at 500 degrees.)
Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a high-sided skillet or large pot over medium. (I used a large, low, and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
Add ground coriander, ground cumin, and ground turmeric. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Pour in purée and add 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal). Stir to combine and cook, stirring occasionally, until raw onion smell subsides and curry is paste-like in consistency, 15–20 minutes.
Arrange chicken on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet and broil until cooked through, charred in spots, and a thermometer inserted into the thickest parts registers 165°, 14 to 20 minutes. (I placed the chicken “skin side down” for 7 minutes, flipped each piece over and cooked an additional 7 minutes.)
While the chicken is cooking, shake the can unsweetened coconut milk to ensure coconut cream is incorporated, then add coconut milk to curry and stir well to combine. Curry should be pale yellow. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until warm and slightly thickened, 5–10 minutes.
Once chicken is finished, add chicken and all of the pan juices to the curry and reduce heat to low; mix well to combine. Stirring constantly to prevent curry from breaking, dribble in the heavy cream.
Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
Serve the chicken and sauce over Basmati rice garnished with additional cilantro.
Cut remaining 1 lemon into wedges. Serve kuku paka with crusty bread and lemon wedges for squeezing over at the table, as desired.
I loved the combination of textures and colors from the mix of beans in this creamy dal. The recipe was a “staff favorite” in Food and Wine, contributed by Antara Sinha. It was included an article titled “Good to the Last Sop: Cozy Dinners That Deliver Endless Comfort.” The original recipe includes instructions to make homemade roti to serve with the dal to sop it up. 🙂
We ate this dish with store-bought roti but I included the roti recipe from the original article below. I wish I had made the homemade roti because we tragically did not enjoy the store-bought version. (Homemade is always better!) I served the dal over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. Hearty and delicious vegetarian comfort food.
For the Dal:
3/4 cup dried moong dal (split yellow mung beans) (about 5½ ounces)
3/4 cup dried masoor dal (split red lentils) (about 5 ounces)
3/4 cup dried chana dal (split bengal gram) or dried toor dal (split pigeon peas) (about 5¾ ounces)
2 medium-size fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired, and finely chopped (about 2 1/2 tablespoons)
1 medium tomato, chopped (about 1 cup)
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
For the Roti:
2 cups atta (Indian whole-wheat flour) (about 8 5/8 ounces), plus more for dusting
3/4 to 1 cup water, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
melted ghee, for brushing
For the Tadka:
3 tablespoons ghee
3 small dried chiles (such as Diaspora Co. Whole Sannam Chillies), or more to taste (I used Bird’s Eye)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
brown Basmati rice, optional
steamed spinach, optional
To Start the Dal:
Stir together moong dal, masoor dal, chana (or toor) dal, salt, turmeric, and 6 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. (I used a medium enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
Reduce heat to medium-low; partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until dal is soft and tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Add up to remaining 1 cup water, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired thickness and consistency is reached.
To Make the Roti Dough:
Stir together atta, 3/4 cup water, and salt in a medium bowl. Knead mixture in bowl until all dry flour is incorporated, adding remaining 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to incorporate flour.
Transfer dough to a clean work surface; knead until stretchy and slightly sticky, 5 to 7 minutes.
Shape dough into a ball, and return to bowl. Cover with a clean towel; let stand at room temperature until dough is smooth and matte, about 30 minutes.
To Season the Dal:
Heat oil in a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium.
Add cardamom, cloves, and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.
Add onion and chopped fresh chiles; cook, stirring often, until onion is lightly browned around edges, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add tomato; cook, stirring often, until tomato begins to break down, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add tomato mixture and cilantro to dal mixture; stir to combine. Season to taste with salt.
Cover and keep warm over low.
To Cook the Roti:
Once roti dough has rested, turn out onto a work surface lightly dusted with atta.
Divide dough evenly into 16 pieces (about 1 ounce each).
Working with 1 dough piece at a time and keeping remaining pieces covered with a towel, shape dough into a ball. Dust ball thoroughly with atta, and flatten slightly. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a circle until uniformly thin and about 6 inches in diameter. Rotate the disk 90 degrees after each roll, flipping and dusting with atta occasionally to make a perfect circle. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high. Place 1 roti round in skillet; cook until bubbles start to form and bottom is speckled with brown spots, 30 to 45 seconds. Flip roti using tongs; cook until it puffs up completely and is evenly cooked on both sides, 30 to 45 seconds. (Small charred spots are delicious and totally OK.) If roti doesn’t completely puff up, pat the top using a clean towel to encourage it to inflate.
Remove roti from skillet, and brush both sides lightly with melted ghee; transfer to a serving plate. Repeat process with remaining roti rounds and ghee.
To Make the Tadka & to Serve:
In a small skillet, heat ghee over medium-high. Add dried chiles and cumin to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until cumin is toasted and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Divide dal mixture among bowls, and drizzle each portion with desired amount of warm tadka. (I served it over brown Basmati rice.)
Sprinkle with additional cilantro, and serve alongside hot roti and steamed spinach, as desired.
Note: Dal can be prepared (without the tadka) 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.
I love yogurt-based marinades because the resulting meat is always juicy and tender. This dish not only had a yogurt marinade, it was made on a single sheet pan and had a bright and spicy “finishing condiment” as well. A winner. 🙂
The rimmed sheet pan did accumulate a lot of pan juices, but the chicken and cauliflower were still perfectly crispy on top. The cauliflower and chickpeas absorbed a lot of wonderful flavors from the pan drippings as well.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kat Boytsova. I added chickpeas and served the roasted chicken, cauliflower, and beans over rice, drizzled with pan juices. We also had warm naan on the side. The lemony cilantro-onion-jalapeño finishing condiment was essential and absolutely delicious.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
For the Chicken:
3″ piece ginger, peeled
2 cups whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup (or more) 2% Greek yogurt, for serving (can substitute whole-milk yogurt)
Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 425°. (I set my oven to convection roast.) Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Finely grate 3″ piece ginger into a medium bowl. Transfer all but 1 teaspoon of the grated ginger to a large resealable plastic bag, reserving ginger in bowl for the finishing condiment. (I used a gallon-size bag.)
Add 2 cups whole-milk yogurt to bag with ginger.
Cut 1 lemon in half crosswise and squeeze juice from each half into the yogurt mixture.
Add cayenne and 2 T plus 1 tsp garam masala. Seal bag and shake to combine.
Season 8 chicken pieces with 5 tsp salt. (I placed the chicken on a plate, seasoned with half the salt, turned each piece over, and seasoned with the rest of the salt.)
Place chicken pieces in the marinade bag, seal, and shake again to cover all the pieces.
Squeeze out as much air as you can from the bag, which makes sure that all the chicken is covered with the marinade. Let marinate at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or keep in the fridge for up to 4 hours. (I marinated the chicken 3 hours in advance, letting it come closer to room temperature for 20 minutes or so before roasting.)
Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Lay out on a paper towel to dry thoroughly.
Cut 1 head of cauliflower into quarters through stem end. Place quarters cut side down and remove most of the core. The cauliflower florets should fall apart and separate naturally, but you can slice any larger florets in half or into quarters until all florets are about 2″ in size. You want the more or less evenly sized so they’re cook evenly.
Transfer cauliflower and beans to the prepared baking sheet.
Drizzle 3 T oil and 1 1/2 tsp salt over and toss to coat. Spread evenly all the way to edges of pan, making sure that the pieces aren’t too crowded, otherwise they’ll steam instead of roasting. (If you ended up with more cauliflower than can fit in a single layer, take some out and save it for something else.)
Remove chicken from marinade, slightly shaking off excess. Arrange on baking sheet skin side up, nestling into cauliflower. (It’s okay if some marinade clings to the chicken, just make sure it’s not pooling in pan.)
Roast chicken and cauliflower, turning pan halfway through and moving chicken around with tongs to ensure even browning, until chicken skin is blistered, meat is tender all the way to the bone, and cauliflower is nicely charred, 35–40 minutes. (The internal temperature should reach 165 degrees.) Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
To Make the Finishing Condiment and to Serve:
Chop the onion, place it in a colander, and rinse it with cold water. (This removes some of the onion’s sharpness.)
In the bowl of a food processor, finely chop the cilantro.
Add the onion to the food processor, finely chop.
Add onion and cilantro to the bowl with the reserved ginger (from step 2 above).
Finely grate zest of remaining lemon into the bowl. Cut lemon in half and squeeze 1 half into the bowl; reserve remaining half for another use.
Remove seeds and ribs from the jalapeño, if desired, finely chop. Alternatively, it can be thinly sliced into rings. Add to the bowl.
Season with remaining 2 tsp garam masala and 3/4 tsp salt.
Mix with a spoon to combine, taste, and add more salt and lemon juice if necessary.
Arrange chicken, beans, and cauliflower over rice, if desired, on individual plates or on a platter. Drizzle with pan juices, as desired.
Top with lemon condiment and serve with a dollop of yogurt or yogurt to pass at the table, as desired. (I served 2% Greek yogurt with the meal.)
For years, this was the most popular recipe on Food and Wine.com. It was included in the 40th Anniversary edition of Food and Wine magazine titled “Our 40 Best-Ever Recipes.” I have tried several recipes from this wonderful collection.
This is an easy version of this classic and popular Indian dish. I especially loved it because the sauce was so amazing. The original recipe makes a note that the marinade and sauce are also delicious with shrimp, lamb, and vegetables.
The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Grace Parisi. I doubled the garlic and used slivered almonds. We ate it over brown Basmati rice with warm naan and sautéed spinach. Yum!
One 35-ounce can peeled tomatoes, finely chopped, juices reserved (I used San Marzano tomatoes)
pinch of granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
warm naan and/or rice, for serving
In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper.
Using a sharp knife, make a few shallow slashes in each piece of chicken. Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat.
Remove the chicken from the marinade; scrape off as much of the marinade as possible.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and spread the pieces on a baking sheet. Broil the chicken, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and browned in spots, about 12 minutes.
Transfer to a cutting board and cut it into 2-inch pieces.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil.
Add the almonds and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate and let cool completely. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering.
Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes.
Add the garam masala, chile powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes with their juices and the sugar and season with salt and pepper.
Cover partially and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.
Add the cream and ground almonds and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes longer.
Stir in the chicken and pan drippings; simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and serve.
Note: The Chicken Tikka Masala can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.
This creamy and indulgent vegetarian stew was hearty and delicious. The dish is based on Southern Indian chickpea stews and some stews found in the Caribbean. I loved how it was loaded with greens (I used Swiss chard) and toppings. An added bonus is that the stew and toppings are made in one pot.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alison Roman. I doubled the onions and garlic, used rainbow chard, and substituted parsley for mint. We ate it over Basmati rice with warm naan on the side. Wonderful!
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
¼cup olive oil, plus more for serving
4 to 8 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 to 2large yellow onions, chopped
1(2-inch) piece ginger, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
1teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
ground coriander and/or ground cinnamon, to taste, if desired
2(15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2(15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
2cups vegetable or chicken stock
1bunch Swiss chard, spinach, kale or collard greens, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces (I used rainbow chard)
1/2 to 1cup flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, or mint leaves, for serving
yogurt, for serving, optional (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
toasted naan, pita, lavash or other flatbread, for serving, optional
Basmati rice, for serving, optional
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot over medium. Add garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent and starts to brown a little at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, (ground coriander and/or ground cinnamon- as desired) and the chickpeas, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, so the chickpeas sizzle and fry a bit in the spices and oil, until they’ve started to break down and get a little browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove about a cup of chickpeas and set aside for garnish.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula, further crush the remaining chickpeas slightly to release their starchy insides. (This will help thicken the stew.) Add coconut milk and stock, and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until stew has thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. (Taste a chickpea or two, not just the liquid, to make sure they have simmered long enough to be as delicious as possible.) If after 30 to 35 minutes, you want the stew a bit thicker, keep simmering until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Determining perfect stew thickness is a personal journey! (I continued to cook the stew to a thicker consistency.)
Add greens and stir, making sure they’re submerged in the liquid. Cook until they wilt and soften, 3 to 7 minutes, depending on what you’re using. (Swiss chard and spinach will wilt and soften much faster than kale or collard greens.) Season again with salt and pepper.
Divide among bowls, over rice (if desired) and top with mint/parsley, reserved chickpeas, a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes and a good drizzle of olive oil.
Serve alongside yogurt and toasted pita or naan, if using; dust the yogurt with turmeric if you’d like.
This is an incredible vegetarian adaptation of the much loved classic Indian dish. It was also a fabulous weeknight dinner. I served it with steamed spinach which paired perfectly. 🙂
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the amount of garlic, used San Marzano tomatoes, and served it over brown Basmati rice with warm naan. Great.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
4 T unsalted butter
1large yellow onion, minced
1 ½tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 to 8garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
1 T grated fresh ginger
2tsp ground cumin
2tsp sweet paprika or smoked paprika
2tsp garam masala
1small cinnamon stick
1(28 oz) can whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes
1(13.5 to 15 oz) can coconut milk
2(15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained
cooked brown or white rice, for serving
½cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, for serving
naan, for serving, optional
steamed spinach, for serving, optional
Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
Stir in onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until golden and browned around the edges, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to medium-high; keeping the heat on medium ensures even browning without burning the butter.)
Stir in garlic and ginger, and cook another 1 minute.
Stir in cumin, paprika, garam masala and cinnamon stick, and cook another 30 seconds.
Add tomatoes with their juices. Using a large spoon or flat spatula, break up and smash the tomatoes in the pot (or you can use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes while they are still in the can).
Stir in coconut milk and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and continuing to mash up the tomatoes if necessary to help them break down.
Stir in chickpeas and a pinch of cayenne. Bring the pot back up to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes.
Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Serve spooned over rice, topped with cilantro, with warm naan and steamed spinach, as desired.
This Indian stew was fast to prepare, loaded with spices and flavor, and was absolutely fabulous. What a combination! If that wasn’t enough, it was also a hearty vegetarian dish with a little bit of heat. All my favorites.
This recipe is from Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball. It is a simplified version of a classic Goan dish. I increased the amount of onion and served the stew with warm naan and chopped grape tomatoes on the side as an optional garnish.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 T coconut or peanut oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed
3 tsp finely grated fresh ginger, divided
2 tsp yellow or brown mustard seeds
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp freshly ground fennel seeds
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 1/2 cups water
13.5 to 14 oz can coconut milk
1 cup split red lentils, rinsed
6 oz (about 6 cups) baby spinach, roughly chopped
juice of 1/2 to 1 lime
unsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish, optional
chopped tomatoes, for garnish, optional
In a large saucepan over medium to medium-high, combine the onion, oil, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and are just beginning to color, 7 to 9 minutes.
Stir in 2 teaspoons of the grated ginger, the mustard seed, turmeric, coriander, fennel, and red pepper flakes.
Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the water, coconut milk, and lentils, then bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the lentils have broken down, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Uncover and stir in the spinach; return to a simmer.
Off the heat, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of grated ginger and the lime juice.
Season with salt to taste.
Serve, garnished with coconut flakes and chopped tomatoes, as desired.