For a while now, I’ve been wanting to cook an Indian dinner. But I don’t have a cookbook with the kind of curry I wanted to make, so I took to the internet. After much hunting, I found many websites with the same Chicken Makhani recipe, so I decided to try it. If you’ve never had Chicken Makhani, you should. It’s a very creamy, mild curry that is this beautiful orange color. And I’ve been wanting to make it forever. Let me say before you jump in here that this recipe did not taste like the dish I get at our favorite Indian restaurant. Not at all. It was still good, just not what I was expecting. So if you have had Chicken Makhani before, just know that this won’t taste like the dish you’re thinking of. (My grandmother would kill me for ending that sentence with a preposition, but whatever.) Also, I will say that I forgot the step with the cornstarch and water at the end… So maybe it would have turned out different, but I don’t think the taste would have been affected at all. So there you go.
Now, when I was at the grocery store, shopping for this lovely meal, I thought to myself, “Gee, I really should cook a vegetable too.” So I quickly looked up a recipe on Smitten Kitchen (have I made it clear that I love this site yet?) for Indian spiced cauliflower and potatoes. I adapted this so that I wouldn’t have to buy too many more ingredients. I also didn’t do the full recipe; I probably ended up making 3/4 of the original, which yielded plenty for both of us plus leftovers.
Chicken Makhani and Spiced Cauliflower
2 Tbl peanut oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 white onion, chopped
2 Tbl butter
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbl garlic-ginger paste (I wasn’t sure what this was, so I just minced one Tbl worth of ginger and garlic and called it good)
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup half and half
1 cup tomato puree
1/4 tsp plus a pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch each of salt and pepper
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1 Tbl cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 (1 3/4-lb) head cauliflower, cut into 3/4-inch-wide florets
1 1/4 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (the recipe called for Yukon Golds, but I just used Russets)
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup water
In a large saucepan, heat 1 Tbl peanut oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and the onion and cook them until they’re soft and translucent. Add the butter, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon of the garam masala, chili powder, cumin, and bay leaf. Phew. Cook for a minute, stirring to combine everything thoroughly. Add the tomato sauce and cook for a couple minutes, stirring frequently. Now stir in the the half and half and the yogurt. Bring the heat down to low, and allow the curry to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper to taste, remove the curry from heat, and set it aside (preferably covered).
In a skillet, heat the rest of the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken, and cook until lightly browned. Reduce the heat, and add the rest of the garam masala and the cayenne, mixing around until the chicken is evenly coated with the spices. Add a few spoonfuls of the curry to the chicken, and simmer until the liquid has reduced and the chicken is cooked through. Then stir the chicken into the sauce. (Now is when you’re supposed to do the cornstarch: mix together the cornstarch and water in a bowl, then add to the sauce. Stir in thoroughly and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened.)
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. In a bowl, toss the cauliflower and potatoes with 3 Tbl of oil, 1/2 tsp of the cumin, and 1/4 tsp of salt. Spread the veggies onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the cauliflower tender and browned in spots.
While the veggies are roasting, cook the onion, garlic, and ginger in the rest of the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently, and cook until the onions and garlic are soft and starting to brown. Add the rest of the cumin (1 tsp), the turmeric, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to evenly coat the onions in the spices. Add the water, being sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, and stir in the veggies. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the potatoes are tender.
Serve curry and cauliflower with rice (I like to add a capful of rice cooking vinegar with the water to give it a little extra flavor), and enjoy!