Thursday, March 17, 2005

Another Detour - This Time To India!

So last night, CameraMan had a night out with the boys and I was alone for dinner. The previous weekend, he was an amazing, loving hubby and he (wait for it ladies) ... made me dinners to eat during the week. This is the first time he's done it (I've always been the one making the soups and fresh foods that go into the freezer for him), but let me tell you, it made my life so very much easier.

And so last night we tried a new dish, not from canyon ranch cooking, but instead from a mix of different places, including (but not limited to) the Internet, Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking, CameraMan's brain, and the limitations of our pantry. It's called CameraMan's Saag Murghi.

Saag Murghi (or Murgh Saag - I've seen it both ways) is a boneless chunks of chicken breast, cooked with fresh spinach, onions, tomatoes, and spices. It is a chicken curry first and foremost, which makes me happy because traditionally the texture of curries is rather mushy, and I look for that in comfort food. Additionally, curries can be pretty darn healthy - especially when you enjoy them sans full-fat coconut milk, and eat versions like this one, which include lean proteins, spinach, and traditional Indian spices like turmeric. According to WholeHealthMD, traditional Ayurvedics believe that turmeric is a great natural antibiotic, strengthens digestion, and, for those who struggle with this, helps improve intestinal flora. I'm not sure I'm in need of those effects so much, but since its an anti-inflammatory that could help with carpal tunnel and since I sit in front of a computer all day, I'm not fighting it.

CameraMan's version, as I mentioned, isn't exactly traditional. He used bone-in chicken breasts, having bought them accidentally, and then flaked it with a fork at the end of the whole cooking process, giving it a shredded consistency similar to southern barbeque rather than chunks of meat. He forgot to grind the coriander, so it went in pod-whole, with the other seasonings, along with the whole chicken breasts. The problem with all of this is you've got a lot of ingredients in one pan (albeit a large one), so stirring becomes an issue. He got around this by removing the chicken breasts temporarily, giving the concoction a thorough mixing, and then re-adding the chicken breasts before reducing the heat and allowing the curry to simmer. Finally, he forgot to add the garam marsala at the end with the yogurt.

Having said all of that, the end-result was really very good. We served it over spaghetti squash rather than couscous or rice, and it made a nice, filling, hot meal. The flavours are not what I would necessarily call 'Indian' - you could tell that there was something missing, but the roasted garlic and the ginger came through beautifully and with the spaghetti squash, the whole effect was a lovely contrast of sweets and savories that I really enjoyed.

It did suffer from re-heating, although I think this was more because the chicken was shredded at the end and therefore gave up a lot of its moisture. I would make it again though - much more satisfying (and healthy) than my other comfort-food favorite: macaroni and cheese.

CameraMan's Chicken-Spinach Curry (as made)

1 T canola oil
2 T ginger root, finely chopped
5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup tomato sauce (plain)
1 T coriander seed, whole
1 tsp. cumin seed, ground
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt (kosher)
20 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, but not drained
1 pound chicken breast, bone-in
.5 cup nonfat plain yogurt

1. Heat oil in 3-quart saucepan over medium high heat. Add gingerroot and garlic; stir-fry 1-2 minutes or until garlic is golden brown.

2. Stir in tomato sauce, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground red pepper, and salt; reduce heat. Partially cover and simmer 7-8 minutes until a thin film of oil starts to separate from the sauce.

3. Stir in undrained spinach and chicken. Simmer uncovered 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted. Cover and simmer 35-40 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is tender; remove from heat.

4. Gradually stir in yogurt. Allow to cool to room temperature; remove chicken breasts from mixture. Shred chicken with a fork and re-add meat. Reheat over stove top briefly, about 4-5 minutes, if serving, otherwise pack in freezable containers for easy dinners.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol detour 2 india...i thought u mite like this:
lots of free recipes..n it looks like they update it every day or so...

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