Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tandoori Chicken with Basmati Rice and Indian Dahl with Spinach

As you may have guessed from my recent posts, I haven't done much cooking lately - I've either been too busy/tired/lazy, or I've been out of town.  But the other day, I felt an undeniable itch to get back in the kitchen and make myself a nice, well-balanced, healthy-ish home-cooked meal.  As I've made a pledge to try to cook "outside the box" more, I decided to try out Indian (a cuisine I rarely eat, much less cook, but generally enjoy) with Tandoori-Style Chicken and Indian Dahl (for all you vegetarians out there!).  The recipe for the chicken I got from my Williams-Sonoma cookbook; then it was just a matter of finding a vegetable side dish to complement it.  I found this one at allrecipes, and the best part is that it called only for spices I already had (with the exception of the garam masala)!  Strangely, my vegetarian "side" dish turned out a lot better than my chicken entree, but I think with some practice in cooking Indian cusine, I can turn out tastier dishes in the future.

Click below to get the recipes!

List of ingredients for the Tandoori-Style Chicken:
1 chicken, about 4 lbs, cut into serving pieces
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) low-fat plain yogurt
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika (the original recipe calls for sweet or hot Hungarian paprika, but I couldn't find any.  Sad!)
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 cups Basmati rice

The prep for the chicken actually started the night before.  First, I removed the skin from the chicken (except for the wings, because I'm not exactly sure how that would work), patted all the pieces down, brushed them with the lemon juice and placed them in my trusty casserole dish.  

Next, I prepared the marinade by chopping up my onion, garlic and ginger, combining all my spices, and throwing it all in my tiny food processor (almost didn't fit!), pulsing until everything was thoroughly combined.  You could also use a blender, but I don't have one, other than my immersion blender.   

I poured the marinade over the chicken, making sure that each piece was well-coated, then I covered the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight, turning the pieces over in the marinade the next morning before I went off to work.

List of ingredients for the Indian Dahl with Spinach:
1 1/2 cups red lentils
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 lb. spinach, rinsed and chopped
2 tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 cup coconut milk
extra salt and pepper for seasoning

When I got home that evening, I started prepping the lentils by rinsing and soaking them for about 20 minutes.  I actually got my lentils a while ago from my best friend, who is originally from Pullman, Washington, home of the National Lentil Festival (how cool is that?!  An entire lentil festival?  I would like to go, if just to see Tase T. Lentil, the festival's mascot).  I've just been waiting for the opportunity to use them.  Next, I brought the water to boil in a small saucepan, then added the salt, drained lentils, turmeric, and chili powder.

I covered the saucepan, reduced the heat to low, and let the lentil mixture simmer for about 15 minutes.  I then threw in the spinach and let it cook about 5 more minutes, until the lentils were tender.

In the meanwhile, I melted the butter in another pan, added the onion, cumin and mustard seed, and sauteed about 10 minutes.  

Once the onion was translucent (just the way I like it!), I added the whole pan to the lentil-spinach mixture.  

The final step was to stir in the garam masala and coconut milk, season to taste, and cook until heated through.  

I turned my attention back to the chicken, which I had taken out of the refrigerator to let it come to room temperature (covered!).  I preheated the oven to about 500 degrees, and placed the chicken pieces on a foil-covered baking sheet, making sure to leave the marinade clinging to the pieces as best I could.  I let the chicken cook about 50 minutes, turning once halfway through, until the white meat was all the way cooked through.  I served the chicken on top of some rice, with the dahl on the side.

The dahl was really, really yummy, with complex flavors, and was very filling.  I would eat it on its own over rice any day (and will for the next couple of days, as there were tons of leftovers).  The chicken...was good, but I felt like it was missing something.  Not being very familiar with Indian cooking, I can't quite figure it out yet, but I'm willing to try out a few more recipes in this cuisine to learn.


  1. that spinach looks awesome. I wish the fiance would eat cooked spinach. Have you been to Penzy's spices? i bought awesome tandori seasonings there, though it still doesn't have the same bite

  2. Wait, she doesn't like cooked spinach? Why is that? Even creamed spinach? Because that stuff is like crack to me.

    I don't know Penzy's spices, where is it? Like I said, I'm a rookie when it comes to Indian food, but I'd like to learn. Maybe I'll take some sort of class?

  3. Yea...i dont know why. Same with all 'greens' like collard greens etc.

    Penzy's has a few locations, including an online store, i think. One is in rockville near the metro

  4. That dahl looks yummy! I will have to try that sometime.

  5. It was really good. And I think it tasted even better today on reheat. I'm not sure why I don't eat more Indian food, but I'm going to from now on.