Friday, 1 June 2012

Cardamom and Chili Chicken and Dal

Cardamom and Chili Chicken with Dal

Dal never looks good in photos (or in real life). No amount of vibrant coriander will make it pretty.  It is the ugly duckling of Indian food. But look past its unfortunate appearance (I think its problem lies in its texture... and maybe colour), and you will find a delicately spiced rough diamond.  This unsung hero of Indian cuisine is surprisingly easy to make - no fancy ingredients and no labourious cooking methods (hurrah!).

If fact, the Cardamon and Chili Chicken skewers are also super easy to make too.  You can leave the chicken marinading for up to a day and then just thread it on to skewers when you're ready to cook.   Superb grilled or cooked on a BBQ they can be eaten hot or cold.  Spicy and fragrant, the bashed Cardamom pods release a wonderful scent that perfumes the chicken.

Whoever said Indian cooking was hard, time consuming and labourious was fibbing.

On a side note, Cardamom also goes amazingly well with chocolate.

Cardamom and Chili Chicken
Makes enough for two

4 Chicken Breasts diced

For the Marinade
2 Garlic Cloves crushed
1 Tablespoon finely chopped Ginger
Large pinch of Black Pepper
5 Cardamom Pods, bashed
2 Green Chilies, finely chopped
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon  Ground Turmeric
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
4 Heaped Tablespoons of Plain Natural Yoghurt
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil or Olive Oil
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon

Wooden Skewers
Lemon, for squeezing over the cooked chicken

  1. In a bowl (not a metal one), combine all the ingredients for the marinade , then add the diced chicken.
  2. Cover with cling film and leave to marinade in the fridge for a least two hours (but up to 24 hours).  
  3. Using the wooden skewers, thread on the chicken.
  4. Set your grill onto its highest setting, and grill the chicken skewers until cooked and nicely charred on the edges.  Alternatively, BBQ these bad boys.  Squeeze over a generous amount of lemon juice and serve with rice, dal, naan bread, dips, poppadoms and any other Indian accompaniments that take your fancy.

Dal - Makes enough for two.
3 Cloves of Garlic
1 Teaspoon finely chopped Ginger
1 Teaspoon of Ground Coriander
1 Teaspoon of Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Cayenne
1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Turmeric
1/2 Onion finely chopped
2 Medium Tomatoes chopped
100g Red Lentils
500ml Chicken or Vegetable Stock
Handful of Fresh Coriander, chopped

  1. In a pan over a medium heat, fry the Onions for two minutes, then add the ginger and garlic and cook for a further two minutes
  2. Add the spices and stir well, cook for a further one minute
  3. Add the tomatoes, stir and cook for another four minutes
  4. Next, add in the lentils and the Stock.  Stir and bring to the boil.  Then turn down the heat to low,  and cover with a lid, for 15 minutes.
  5. After 15 minutes, take off the lid and stir.  The lentils probably won't be done, so leave them uncovered for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add more stock or water if the lentils seem to be drying up. Test the lentils, they will be cooked when they are completely soft.  If not done, leave cooking for another 10 minutes and test again.
  6. Once cooked, stir in a handful of fresh coriander and serve.