Indian Butter Chicken and Side Dishes (No Cap!)

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Editor’s Note: What happens when you have a pandemic and you stay home bored political reporter with extra time? LA Blade contributor Christopher Kane decided to pursue his second love and passion, cooking, and now he’s sharing the results in his weekly Sunday column.

WASHINGTON — In an effort to cling to the youth I have left, I’ve been awkwardly weaving the phrase “no cap” into texts with my friends all week, neither of whom knew what it meant because, like, they I, are all aging millennials. Let’s just say I got kicked out of a few group chats and had to struggle to get back in.

My attempt at cooking a traditional Indian meal this week was, shall we say, less clumsy than my attempt to adopt the jargon used by the Gen Z crowd. Before we get into that, however, please allow me to preface this week’s column with a word of warning: I am not Indian, nor do I claim to understand Indian cuisine beyond the extent possible for a white boy living in the continental United States States grew up. So, the techniques and ingredients used to prepare the dishes described and illustrated in this article came from an Indian cookbook and an Indian spice market near my home in Washington, DC.

You may be surprised to learn that these columns are not sponsored. (But seriously, give me a call. Especially you, Le Creuset.) So, I don’t usually include affiliate links, but I choose to make an exception in this case to share the resources that it does enabled me to do something that…maybe not quite authentic but I assure you delicious nonetheless.

When approached for comment, my go-to for Indian cuisine was at a Kerala wedding, which was understandably much more concerned with her beautifully ornate sangeet outfit than my culinary adventures. “Looks delicious!” she exclaimed. “No cap?” (I couldn’t help it.) (She still doesn’t know what that means.)

Photo by Dan Balinovic

BUTTER CHICKEN: Recipe adapted from “Mother Butter Chicken” in Nisha Katonas “Mowgli cookbook(p. 112), with pantry ingredients Rani Soudagars spicez in Georgetown, Washington DC

  1. Take a boneless, skinless pound Chicken breast or thighs (I prefer thighs) and cut into cubes, each about 1 to 2 inches wide. Rub in about a teaspoon of kosher salt and two tablespoons Tandoori masala Spices (Curry powder isn’t quite as good, but will do in a pinch.)
  2. In a medium bowl, combine two teaspoons ground cumintwo teaspoons floor corianderA teaspoon granulated sugarhalf a teaspoon ground cardamomhalf a teaspoon Cinammonhalf a teaspoon ground turmerica fourth teaspoon ground fenugreeka fourth teaspoon ground cayenne peppertwo tablespoons tomato pasteone can (~14 ounces) diced or whole peeled tomatoesand five tablespoons greek yogurt.
  3. Place two thinly sliced ​​pieces in a hot oiled skillet White onions with six to eight grated cloves garlic and a two to four inch piece fresh Ginger, diced or grated. Cook over medium-high heat, seasoning with salt and black pepper, until onions are soft/translucent/golden, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the spice/tomato/yogurt mixture over low heat and cook for another five minutes, stirring again and seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. Use an immersion blender to emulsify the mixture until smooth. If you can’t find your brand new Cuisinart Smart Stick® cordless hand blender either, you can also use a spatula to place the mixture in a regular blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
  6. In a separate nonstick skillet (or a stainless steel skillet coated in the tiniest bit of cooking spray), sear the chicken for 6 to 8 minutes. This is one of the few times I will urge you to use as little oil as possible.
  7. Combine the browned chicken with the emulsified sauce and continue cooking an additional 15 to 20 minutes, adding about 1/2 cup of water (up to 2 cups) every five minutes or so, until you reach your desired consistency (this part is a personal trip !) Taste for seasoning to add more salt if needed.
  8. Remove pan from heat and add a full stick butter, stir until the sauce is thick and creamy. Garnish with coriander.
Photo by Dan Balinovic

HUMMUS WITH LEMON & SEASONED CHICKPEAS: with pantry ingredients Rani Soudagars spicez in Georgetown, Washington DC

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine one and a half cans (~14 ounces each) Chickpeasa half preserved lemonJuice from half of a fresh lemontwo to four cloves of garlic and a teaspoon of ground cumin.
  2. Blend while slowly adding up to three-quarters cups of ice water until the mixture forms into a smooth paste. Season generously with kosher salt.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a baking sheet with butter, cooking spray, or line with parchment paper.
  4. Spread out a layer of chickpeas, about one and a half cans (~14 ounces each). Cover them generously olive oil and season generously with salt, along with about a tablespoon cumin seeds and a tablespoon sumac. (If you only have ground cumin, maybe use a teaspoon and a half.)
  5. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes and then dust with a good extra virgin olive oil red chilli flakes/paprika/turmericand rotis/well/pita bread/other flatbread
Photo by Dan Balinovic

RICE:

The key here is to remember to add one teaspoon of kosher salt per cup of uncooked rice. Garnish with coriander and flaky sea salt. (Again, this column is not sponsored. But Diamond Crystal, Maldon, I’m – and I can’t stress this enough – available. DM for collaboration.)

NAAN:

Safeway Signature SELECT, $4.99.

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