Milk Street Indian Classics at Home (Ep 419)

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PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES

Butter Chicken

Start to finish: 1 hour 25 minutes (45 minutes active), plus marinating

Servings: 4 to 6

In our take on the butter chicken we had in Mumbai, boneless chicken thighs are briefly marinated in yogurt and spices, then broiled until lightly charred. We make a separate sauce into which the chicken then is stirred. In many recipes for butter chicken, copious amounts of butter and heavy cream supply richness, but we do as we were taught in India and use cashews pureed with a small amount of water until smooth. The nut puree adds creaminess without making the dish heavy. Serve this with steamed basmati rice for soaking up the sauce.

Don’t scrape the marinade off the chicken before broiling. The yogurt and honey help the chicken brown and char under the broiler.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoons garam masala, divided
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin, divided
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger, divided
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut crosswise into 3 strips
  • 1 cup roasted salted cashews
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, honey, paprika, cayenne, 3 tablespoons of the garam masala, 1 tablespoon of the cumin, 1 tablespoon of the ginger and 2 teaspoons salt. Add the chicken and stir until evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Heat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the broiler element. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, set a wire rack in the baking sheet and mist it with cooking spray. In a blender, puree the cashews with ¾ cup water until smooth, about 1 minute; set aside.

In a large Dutch oven over medium, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon ginger and the garlic, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon garam masala and the remaining 1 tablespoon cumin. Add the cashew puree and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and 2 cups water, scraping up any browned bits. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and bring to a simmer, stirring to combine. Reduce to medium and cook, stirring often, until the sauce is thick enough to heavily coat a spoon, 12 to 14 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Arrange the chicken with its marinade still clinging to it in an even layer on the prepared rack. Broil until well browned and lightly charred on both sides, 15 to 20 minutes, flipping the pieces once about halfway through. Transfer to the sauce, bring to a simmer over medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the chicken meets no resistance, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in the cilantro and lime juice, then let stand for 5 minutes. Taste and season.


PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES

Potato and Green Pea Curry (Aloo Matar)

Start to finish: 1 hour | Servings: 4

This classic curry balances the sweetness of tomatoes and green peas with pungent aromatics and warm spices, all tempered by the mild flavor and starchiness of potatoes. The peas in aloo matar usually are drab army green from the acidity of the tomatoes; we add them at the end so they retain their bright color. Serve with cooling plain whole-milk yogurt, if desired.

Don’t forget to thaw the peas before use. They are added off heat, when cooking is complete, so if they are still frozen, they will cool the curry. Also, don’t be shy about stirring the potatoes as they cook uncovered; stirring helps release potato starch that thickens the curry.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
  • 2½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups frozen peas, thawed
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds. Stir in the onion, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the ginger and garlic, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the paprika, turmeric, garam masala and cayenne, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes with their juice, sugar and 2 cups water, then bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Stir in the potatoes and 1½ teaspoons salt. Return to a simmer, then cover, reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into a potato meets just a little resistance, about 20 minutes.

Uncover and continue to cook, stirring often, until the potatoes are completely tender and the sauce clings lightly, another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the peas and let stand, uncovered, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, then taste and season with salt and pepper.


PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES

Chicken Vindaloo

Start to finish: 1 hour 20 minutes | Servings: 4

Vindaloo, an Indian dish of Portuguese influence, typically is associated with the state of Goa on India’s southwestern coast, but the curry is popular the world over. Vindaloo, which often is made with lamb or chicken, is notable for tangy flavor from vinegar, a generous dose of garlic and the gentle spice of dried chilies. The Kashmiri chilies used in India are vibrantly colored with moderate heat; we found a mixture of sweet paprika and cayenne to be a good substitute. If you order Kashmiri chili powder online, substitute 4 teaspoons for the paprika and cayenne. Serve with basmati rice.

Don’t worry if the chicken sticks to the pot immediately after it is added. Allow it to cook undisturbed and it eventually will release with ease. And don’t be afraid to allow the chicken and puree to brown as they cook. This brings out the flavors in the spices and tames the pungency of the aromatics, yielding a sauce that tastes full and round.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons white vinegar, divided
  • 12 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 4 whole cloves or ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • Fresno or jalapeño chilies, stemmed and sliced into thin rings, to serve
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, to serve

INSTRUCTIONS

In a blender, combine ¼ cup vinegar, garlic, ginger, paprika, sugar, cloves, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, 1¼ teaspoons each salt and pepper, and 3 tablespoons water. Puree until smooth, scraping the blender as needed. Pour into a medium bowl, add the chicken and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken and marinade in an even layer. Cook without stirring until the marinade has browned and the chicken releases easily from the pot, 5 to 9 minutes. Stir, then add ⅓ cup water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the chicken meets no resistance, 35 to 45 minutes.

Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, increase to medium and cook, stirring often, until the sauce is thick enough that a spoon drawn through leaves a trail, about 8 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with sliced chilies and cilantro.

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