Simple and spicy Indian food at home


— Indian cuisine is known for its creative use of spices, which often attracts foodies who simply can’t get enough flavor or kick in their meals. For those who want to try their hands at creating their own fiery Indian meal, consider the following recipe for “Chicken in a Spicy Red Sauce” from Madhur Jaffrey’s “Quick & Easy Indian Cooking” (Chronicle Books).

Chicken in a Spicy Red Sauce

Serves 3 to 4

21⁄4 pounds chicken pieces (see note 1)

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

7 good-sized cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

1⁄4 cup vegetable oil

Generous pinch ground asafetida (see note 2), optional

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 2-inch stick cinnamon

6 cardamom pods

5 whole cloves

3 dried, hot red chiles

1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1⁄8 to 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

11⁄2 cups canned, chopped tomatoes (see note)

12 ounces potatoes, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks

Sprinkle the chicken pieces lightly with salt and black pepper and set aside.

Put the garlic and ginger into the container of a blender, along with 3 tablespoons water, and blend to a paste.

Put the oil in a wide, nonstick pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the asafetida if using. A few seconds later, put in the cumin seeds. Wait for 10 seconds and put in the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, and red chiles. Stir for a few seconds until the large spices begin to turn darker. Now put in the garlic and ginger. Stir and fry it for about 2 minutes. Put in the chicken, turmeric and cayenne. Stir and fry for another minute. Now put in the chopped tomatoes, potatoes, 11⁄4 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 25 to 30 minutes or until the chicken and potatoes are tender.

Note 1: The author tends to use smallish chicken thighs, but any chicken parts can be used. A pair of breasts should be cut into 4 to 6 pieces each and whole legs into 2 to 3 pieces each. The author skins her chicken, but this not necessary.

Note 2: Asafetida is used to give a special kick to Indian foods, and a small quantity can subtly transform the taste of a dish.

Note 3: Chopped tomatoes or whole canned tomatoes can be used. Tomatoes should be chopped very finely. PC159509