I’ve personally never made Indian or Indian-inspired food before, but I do love the stuff. And I fully admit that I don’t know enough about the richness this culture’s food offers, but it’s never too late to learn, right? Before we get going on the recipe, you know I’ve got to recount the journey that was this recipe. I kind of stumbled on it, thought it sounded good and was pleased to note it was a healthier recipe than I usually make – *ahem*. Sis blogging partner is always so supportive of whatever I want to cook, so I set out to find what I was sure would be my only deterrent to this being and “easy” recipe.
The garam masala.
Sis and I live in an area where we have access to a reasonably-sized town, where we can normally find pretty much everything we need. I just had a feeling, though, that the garam marsala would be hard to find. For some reason this didn’t translate in my brain (I completely blame there being no more room for expansion in said brain), and before I knew it the weekend had arrived and I had no garam masala. I’d called places, sure, but no. one. had it! This was a disaster. I had to make this recipe. We don’t really have a long-term plan on what to cook for this blog, but once I do get it into my head that I want to cook something, it takes hold and won’t uproot itself.
I looked up garam masala and found recipe after recipe for the spice mixture. Yep, it’s a mixture of several different spices, some common, some so not. Not at all. Not for the area we have to shop in anyway. Apparently garam masala recipes will differ from region to region as well, so there was variety to look forward to, and I consoled myself to the fact that I was going to have to make my own garam masala. Yeah, this recipe just left the realm of easy for me personally. I’m pretty sure that what makes it easy is that garam masala must tend to be easy to find in most places. Now what, though? If you’re like me, you too can improvise.
And be glad you did, because this recipe is really good. Seriously good. But that’s also a first time garam masala eater talking, so maybe take it with a few salty grains. Know this, though. Sis and I agreed it’s one of the best dishes we’ve made since starting the food blog. Just Google garam masala if you can’t find it in your area and see which spices you can get your hands on and try making your own, too. Hey, I worried it might not be worth my time, but I will be making this recipe again. Oh yes.
Start off by preparing the marinade for your chicken. Fresh cilantro, Greek yogurt, garlic, olive oil, kosher salt and that rascally garam masala spice mix – it all smelled so good!
We marinated our chicken in this awesome mixture for about three hours. It probably wouldn’t hurt to do so longer and you can certainly cut a little time down during the work week if you wanted and do this step overnight.
When you’re ready to bake the chicken, simply remove it from the marinade (no need to wipe any of it off), discard whatever marinade is leftover and place the chicken pieces over thinly sliced onions.
Before you put the chicken in the oven, consider these beauties. Cumin-Roasted Carrots. People. I must warn you – you NEED to make these. The sis, hubby and I were so gone over them, test tasting over and over that we almost didn’t have enough for pictures. And they’re easy to make. SO EASY. And they’re another healthy addition to your menu. Even better, they can be roasted while the chicken bakes!
They’re so puuurty. And insanely tasty. Did I mention how good they taste yet? Yeah. That good. The cumin seeds are not as strong as I thought they’d be, but they blend perfectly with the roasted sweetness of the carrots, and kosher salt gives this dish a savory tang. I will be keeping cumin seeds in my spice cabinet from now on.
These two recipes go perfectly together. To complete the meal, I’d suggest some simple chicken-stock-cooked couscous, or plain steamed rice. Or whatever you find particularly awesome to compliment it – and if you have an idea we want to know what it is. Wink.
If you do your marinating ahead of time, on any weeknight you could have a tasty Indian-inspired meal in about an hour. Please try this one, enjoy and be sure to let us know what you think!
Easy Chicken Masala & Cumin-Roasted Carrots
Adapted slightly from Bon Appétit, February 2010
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour Level: easy Serves: 6-8
For the chicken:
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (we actually used Fage 2% Greek yogurt)
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 3-4 large garlic cloves, pressed
- 9-12 chicken thighs, skin removed (you can use whichever pieces of chicken you prefer, though)
- 2 large onions, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
For the carrots:
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 12 medium to large carrots, peeled, cut on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
To prepare the chicken:
Mix yogurt, chopped cilantro, olive oil, garam masala, salt, and garlic in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add chicken to marinade, 1 piece at a time, coating all sides. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.
Position racks in top third and bottom third of oven; preheat to 400°F.
Arrange onions in thin layer on large rimmed baking sheet to form bed for chicken. Top with chicken pieces in single layer, spacing apart for even roasting (chicken will still be coated with marinade). Discard remaining marinade.
Roast chicken on top rack until cooked through and juices run clear when thickest portion of thigh is pierced with knife, about 1 hour. Serve chicken atop onion slices. Spoon pan juices around.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. You could also use a large roasting dish or large casserole as well, as long as the carrots have a little room and aren’t pressed right up on one another.
Combine carrots and all remaining ingredients on your baking sheet or in your casserole dish (Makes for great less-mess-cleanup!); toss to coat. Spread in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Roast carrots on bottom rack until tender and lightly caramelized, turning carrots over once at midway point, 35 to 40 minutes.
We went with the recipe and only used the 1 tablespoon of garam masala, but I think I’d use at least another half a tablespoon the next time. The flavor as is, is nice, but I wouldn’t have minded tasting the garam masala more. We also marinated the chicken for three hours, but I’d do so longer next time.
I went with chicken thighs only for this recipe because they’re pretty much my favorite part of the chicken and I can usually find them pretty cheap in the stores. As sis pointed out, they also have the most flavor. We used bone-in and boneless, removing the skins from each to cut down on fat and calories. We agreed that the chicken either with or without the bone in was very tasty. You can certainly use other parts of the chicken if you prefer.
The original recipe calls for two small onions as the bed for the chicken pieces, but that’s really not enough for even 6 people if you plan to serve them with the chicken. Unfortunately our onions burned a little, so next time I plan to cook more onions separately, spiced with the same garam masala to coincide with the chicken. Maybe just saute some up in a pan on the stove top.
I’ve got NO changes for the carrots. They’ll definitely be a go-to veggie side in my house from now on, and the chicken is pretty snazzy, too!
I’m pleased to say that hubby grilled the chicken the second time I made this, and it was very good. So this will also suit the hot summer months as well, for when you don’t want to fire up the oven. You could probably even do the carrots on the grill in a foil pan at the same time.