Saturday, May 10, 2008

How Garam Masala Got Its Groove Back

"This sauce goes with that."

My sweetie and I nodded politely as the proud owner of Panahar, a Bangladeshi restaurant on Buford Highway, told us what was what. We disregarded his instruction. When trying to lose a few pounds, aren't frivolous sauces one of the first things to go? Especially if you'd like another piece of fresh-from-the-oven naan?

He returned ten minutes later as we ate our ungarnished food. Patiently, he reminded us - "This goes with that. And this other goes with the vegetables. You will really enjoy it, I promise."

And so, since he seemed so invested in matching dish to sauce from the buffet, we dutifully fetched the required sauces. What a difference - the food went from good to OHMYGOD!WE'REEATINGHERETOMORROWANDTHENEXTDAY.

You'd think a lesson like that would stick, right? And that this so-not-Indian chick would take the advice of someone who knows so, so much more about this than she? Nope.

Tonight's dinner was Cooking Light's recent Grilled Tandoori Chicken recipe. I omitted the serrano pepper and, for the sound culinary reason that "it costs less" used chicken thighs instead of the go-to chicken breasts. The chicken smelled heavenly on the grill pan but it fell flat on the taste test.

And then... the yogurt sauce. It all came together and truly tasted Indianish. I'm no threat to Panahar, Udipi, or Madras Sarvana Bhavan, but it'll work to quell an early-stage Indian food craving. With brown rice and fresh green beans steamed in chicken broth, it worked.

From Cooking Light, May 2008 -

2 teaspoons canola oil
4 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
2 teaspoons ground coriander, divided
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped seeded serrano pepper
8 garlic cloves, crushed
2 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
2 teaspoons salt, divided
16 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
Cooking spray

1. Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander, garam masala, turmeric, and red pepper to pan; cook 2 minutes or until fragrant, stirring constantly. Remove from pan; cool.
2. Place onion, ginger, serrano pepper, and garlic in a food processor; process until smooth. Add spice mixture, 1/2 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons juice, and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt to onion mixture; process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Cut 3 shallow slits in each chicken thigh. Add chicken to bag, and seal. Toss to coat. Marinate in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

3. Prepare grill.

4. Combine remaining 2 cups yogurt, 2 tablespoons juice, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring well. Cover mixture, and chill.

5. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 7 minutes on each side or until done. Serve with yogurt mixture.

8 servings (serving size: 2 chicken thighs and about 1/4 cup yogurt mixture)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 256(28% from fat); FAT 8.1g (sat 2.3g,mono 2.7g,poly 1.8g); PROTEIN 32.2g; CHOLESTEROL 119mg; CALCIUM 181mg; SODIUM 767mg; FIBER 1.7g; IRON 2.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 12.7g

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