This is the recipe that first got me into my Indian grocery store for spices I’d never heard of.  “India Bazaar” on 34th street towards Williston Rd.  It’s in a little strip-mall right next to the restaurant (I assume) they own “India Cuisine”.   I highly recommend both of these places.  Clean, well stocked (both shelves and menu) and the staff is friendly.  The shop is full of many posters and advertisements on the doors and walls directed towards their cultural market, written both in Hindi and English.  All kinds of imported products, not just for cooking but also DVD’s, snacks, hair-products and henna are available too.

My first trip almost ended before it started.  For all intents and purposes I’m a big pansy.  So being submerged in the foreign smells and an overwhelming supply of whole spices, some labeled only in Hindi (well, I assume it’s Hindi but either way, it definitely isn’t English or Spanish) was enough to almost make me turn tail and go sit in the car.  Thankfully, there weren’t any other customers in the store that day or I really may have left but as it was, just the one younger man stocking and running the register who smiled and said he could help if I needed it.  I, of course, said no and tried to act like I knew exactly what I was doing.  I probably hunted for 20 minutes and found just 2 things from my list.  Sheepishly, I had to own up to my obvious lack of being Indian and hand over my list.  The rest he quickly found within 5 minutes, all the while explaining the differences in the similar products and correcting my pronunciation.  My second trip went a little better, I found more on my own and he had to help just a bit.  Now, I’m in there monthly to try and look like I know what I’m doing while I shop amongst the Indian ladies. He always  asks to know what dish I’m making always smiles at my answers.  I wonder sometimes if it is because I’m completely botching the pronunciation, if he doesn’t think I’ll be able to cook what I planned, or if he’s just happy that I’m trying.

Now, this recipe does look a little intimidating for those without  these spices in their spice-cabinet.  It very well may push you to your local ethnic grocery as well.  If you haven’t cooked very much with whole spices, you’ll need to skim through my “Spice up the Experience” post too.  However, I encourage you to try a hand at this, step out of your comfort zone and experience a part of the world you may have ruled out for being too spicy or too unfamiliar.  Never forget the internet!  If you still don’t want to venture out into the ethnic grocery – spices can be shipped straight to your door!  With practice, this meal can be put together in under an hour and ready to eat in two.  It has many steps and can be fun to try with a partner! If you can laugh at yourself, you’ll probably be well amused the first time around anyway.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being super spicy, this dish is a 6/10 hot with more tangy warmth (like vinegar and cinnamon) than burning hot.  For those concerned with how spicy this dish is, worry no more.  Just cut the cayenne pepper down (or out) and reduce the other peppers.  Also, you must have a blender for this.  I think it is well worth the effort though.  The chicken comes out so tender it will fall apart in your mouth and the flavor eliminates any reason to add salt.  Surprise your family with a taste of India coming out of YOUR kitchen or surprise yourself with a new dish that will make your mouth water.

Messy Pieces:  

  1. 2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  2. 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  3. 1 tsp whole cardamom seeds
  4. 1 3″ cinnamon stick
  5. 1/5 tsp whole black mustard seeds
  6. 1 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
  • 5 TBS white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (or Splenda substitute)

1.5-2  TBS vegetable oil

3 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced

6 TBS water

1″ fresh ginger root, peeled and coarse chopped

10 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half

1 TBS whole coriander seeds (toasted and ground separately)*may use pre-ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground tumeric

2lb chicken breast, cut to bite-sized bits

8oz tomato SAUCE (not pasta sauce, not paste, not pizza sauce)

1/2lb new potatoes, washed and quartered*optional – leave these out for Dukan Diet or substitue with butternut squash!  – if using squash, leave out the Splenda

Get Messier:

Toast the first 6 ingredients, allow to cool in a large plastic bowl then grind.  Mix the cooled, ground spices with the next 4 ingredients back in the plastic bowl and set aside.

In a large volume pan, heat the vegetable oil and cook the onions on high heat until they are a rich medium to dark brown.  Stir frequently as they become more cooked to keep them from sticking or burning.  This takes about 20 minutes or so.  While these are cooking, peel and chop your ginger and garlic and chop your chicken.

When the onions are ready, remove with a slotted spoon (leaving as much oil in the pan as possible) and place them in your blender.  Add up to 3 TBS water and blend in until smooth.  Pour this hot onion-paste into the plastic bowl with the ground spices and vinegar.  This is the vindaloo base!

Throw the chopped garlic and ginger into the blender with the last 3 TBS water and make a paste of that too.  Heat up the remaining oil in the pan, don’t worry if there isn’t a lot, it will be enough.  When it’s hot, pour in the garlic/ginger paste and brown it a little.  Add in the coriander and turmeric.  Add the chicken and cook the outsides while mixing it with the paste.  When the chicken is slightly cooked on the outsides, pour in the vindaloo base, the tomato sauce and potatoes.  Mix together well, and bring to a simmer for about an hour, or until the potatoes are tender.  If not using potatoes, then just the hour is fine.

Serve in a bowl for those on the first phases of the Dukan Diet.  Serve with rice if not watching your carbs and enjoy!  Makes 4 servings.  Without rice or potatoes each serving has about 5 grams of fat, around 45 grams protein and about 350 calories, give or take.  Enjoy!

If you tried this, I want to know how it went and how you liked it!

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