Moghalai-Style Chicken with Spinach, Almonds, and Raisins

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Hi Karla,

So, it’s hilarious that you just wrote a post about Indian food, because I have been cooking Indian food too! I was going to try to avoid posting these recipes for a while because (spoiler alert!) this is going to be your birthday present, but then I realized, there was no way of doing that.

People, meet 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer.

Long story short, I discovered, through some friends of mine, the most amazing cookbook I’ve ever bought. This sounds like hyperbole (I have a lot of cookbooks,) but it’s not. There are a few reasons for this. 1. It has recipes for food that you have never heard of and would never have any idea how to make otherwise. Obviously, you have probably never heard of Moghalai-style anything. You would have no idea that it requires a spice mix of coriander, cloves, cumin, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom, tumeric and cayenne. Most things you see in cookbooks are not that different from things that you could make normally. This is. 2. There is a reason that this stuff is so complicated. It’s amazingly good! The spice mixes will blow you away, and the experience of making them, with whole spices, and understanding how to bring out different flavors in different spices, is amazing. 3. Indian food makes really really good leftovers.

So, I, along with everyone I know who has this book, have been cooking Indian pretty non-stop since I bought it. I’ve made coconut-chile-peanut stuffed eggplant, coconut milk chicken, and now Moghalai-Style Chicken with Spinach, Almonds, and Raisins.

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One note on this recipe: The spice mix is actually a cinch to make, and you should totally do it, exactly as he says. Some of the spices require going to an Indian grocery store, but you should be pretty safe with what is in this recipe. If you don’t have whole spices, GO GET SOME. It is so worth it  to make this right, and toasting the spices makes a big difference in their flavor. If you absolutely have to substitute something with it’s ground varient, add it after you have toasted the other spices. Toasting ground spices often means burning them, and you don’t want to ruin the flavor of the other spices.

There are a lot of awesome indexes in this book that explain different ingredients and styles. So everyone should just buy the book. His explanations are clear and sometimes sassy, which is awesome. They also explain how to make your own everything, from ghee to paneer to rice and breads as well. And then there are the 660 curries.

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Moghalai-Style Chicken with Spinach, Almonds, and Raisins
(Kishmish Waale Murgh)

1/4 cup canola oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon Punjabi Garam Masala (see below)
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 oz spinach fresh or frozen

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, raisins, and almonds, and cook until the onion softens and then turns dark brown with deep purple hues and the raisins turn honey-brown and look succulent, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Stir in the chicken and cook until it sears and turns light brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the garam masala, salt, cayenne, and turmeric and cook for 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Stir in the spinach and 1/2 cup water. bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium low, cover the skillet, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink inside, 5 to 10 minutes.

Punjabi Garam Masala

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds from black pods
3 cinnamon sticks broken into smaller pieces (3 inches each)
3 Fresh or dried bay leaves

1. Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add all the spices and the bay leaves, and toast, shaking the skillet every few seconds, until the coriander and cumin turn reddish brown, the cloves, peppercorns, and cardamom turn ash-black, thDickinson and bay leaves appear brittle and the mixture is highly fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

2. Immediately transfer the nutty-smelling spices to a plate to cool (be very careful not to burn them, as they will become unpalatable.) Once they are cool to the touch, place them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder and grind them until the texture resembles that of finely ground black pepper. (If you don’t allow the spices to cool, the ground blend will acquire unwanted moisture from the heat, making the final blend slightly “cakey.”) The ground blend will be reddish brown and the aroma will be sweet and complex, very different from that of the pre-toasted and post-toasted whole spices.

3. Store in a tightly sealed container, away from excess light, heat, and humidity, for up to 2 months. (In my option, refrigerating the blend adversely affects its flavor.)

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1 Comment

Filed under Meats

One response to “Moghalai-Style Chicken with Spinach, Almonds, and Raisins

  1. Karla M.

    That all looks so amazing. I really should start using some whole spices. I just recently stocked my spice rack with ground spices (after I moved I literally only had cinnamon- that’s it) but that’s next in order. I bet it brings out the flavor so much better. As for the Indian theme, it really is funny you’re so into it. I just started reading a book called “Climbing the Mango Tree” about a food memoir of a childhood in India. There are so many good recipes makes me hungry every time. haha.

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