Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chicken Hara Masala

I know what you are thinking...  "At last!  A meat dish!"  What kind of achi bivi (good wife) doesn't make meat dishes!?!?!  Particularly, one married to a Muslim, Pakistani!?  There are several reasons and I will go into just a few...  
  • Meat is killing animals.  When we make or eat meat, we remember it was a living, breathing animal first.  We eat it knowing and respecting that we did not kill it ourselves and that it was killed on our behalf.
  • Regular meat consumption has been linked to increase obesity, diabetes, and cancer.  The way Americans eat meat is evidenced clearly by our largely obese, high long-term health-risk population.
  • Meat is expensive. Particularly, halal (suitable for Muslims), grass-fed, humanely treated meat.  A whole chicken can run you $10.  Which isn't terrible, but if you ate it everyday, that could be $70 a week on meat!!  That is more than what I usually spend on groceries for an entire week of breakfast, lunch, and dinner for myself and my husband!
You may disagree and that is totally fine!!  Enjoy life as you see fit.  I love you all the same.  These are our personal beliefs and why meat dishes may be found here few and far between.  But I do know how to make them and I do believe it is important to my family that I cook them on occasion.  :)

//end soapbox

Chicken Hara Masala (Green Chicken in sauce) is an excellent chicken dish to prepare for davaats (invitations with guests).  Most Pakistani chicken dishes require you to buy "1 whole chicken, cut in 16 pieces, skinless."  This is about 3lbs of chicken.  If you purchase it at a Pakistani or Muslim marketplace, that is what you would ask for.  I'll have to write another post on how you prepare the chicken, but basically, you wash it in a colander and remove the fat with your fingernails between the meat (this really makes you appreciate that you are eating an animal, by the way).  The fat is all white.  You also remove any excess skin (on the leg pieces and wing pieces for example) and you can also cut the larger breast pieces in half.  Leave the bones in, it will make for a richer sauce.  As you do so, throw the pieces into a large pot.

Incoming a lot of ingredients...Add 3 Tablespoons of oil, 1/4 cup of Puck cream (found in most Pakistani/Indian/Arab grocery stores -- do not try to substitute this, I've never seen it in American grocery stores), 4 teaspoons ginger and garlic paste, 2 teaspoons garam masala powder, 4 Tablespoons lemon juice, ~1 Tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder, 6 whole red chilies, 1 teaspoon ground cumin powder, 4 chopped, fresh green onions.

This is what it will look like mixed.  Cook on medium/high heat until most of the liquid has evaporated and chicken is cooked (~35 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, boil about 2 large handfuls of chopped spinach (boiled, it should make about a half cup) in a small saucepan. 

This is what it will look like when it is ready for the next step.

While you are waiting, make a small bowl of 3-4 chopped green chilies, 2 teaspoons qasuri methi (fenugreek leaves -- you can get them at Indian/Pakistani/Arab grocery stores), and 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro leaves.

You'll also need 3/4 cup whole milk yogurt (I use the above yogurt and qasuri methi leaves).

 Add your small bowl of ingredients, yogurt, and drained, boiled spinach to your chicken.

This is what it will look like stirred.

Cook on high until chicken mix is thick (about 5 minutes).  You can serve it now, or you can leave it on the lowest heat setting, covered for an hour or more to make it extra tender (checking occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn or anything).

Enjoy with naan or rice!  :)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Zeera Ke Aloo

Zeera Ke Aloo (Cumin Seed w/Potato) is a very simple, delicious recipe that includes basic ingredients that are almost always on hand.  It is a bit of a sour taste to it and is usually served with naan, paratha, or chapati.  Potatoes are soft and easy to break away with bread.  This was one of the first recipes I learned as an achi bivi and I have enjoyed making it for the family.  It would be considered a side dish if you were having a davaat (invitation of guests), but we have eaten it as a meal because we don't eat much meat and we are only two.

First you need about 5 small, white or golden potatoes.  If you use Idaho, make sure that you use only 2 potatoes.

Skin and thinly slice your potatoes (about as thin as 2, 25 cent quarters).

Rinse your potatoes in a bowl and leave a little water behind (you can click on the picture to get a better idea of how much water you can leave).

Chop up 2 fresh, small tomatoes (Roma or Vine are fine)*.

*Achi Bivi Cheat:  Use a 14oz can of diced tomatoes.

In a medium sized pot, add about a quarter cup of vegetable/canola oil (or enough to fill base of pot).  Add 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds and cook on medium/high heat until brown.

Add potatoes, tomatoes, 1 teaspoon red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Stir a few times. 

Bring to a simmer and stir once every 5 minutes for about 30 minutes, uncovered.

After 30 minutes, if it looks like this, it's not done.

Getting closer...

BAM!  Most of the water is evaporated now and when stirred, it will thicken.  This is what you want it to look like after stirring.

Cover it.  Turn off the heat.  It will thicken for about 2-3 minutes.

Pour in a bowl and serve with naan, paratha, or chapati!  Gorgeous!  Enjoy.