Friday, August 9, 2013

A riff on Palak Chicken

We've all had the palak paneer at our local India Palace or Taj Mahal. The same dish tastes excellent with chicken too if you're in a non-vegetarian mood. And, having spinach (palak), chicken, and onions on hand, I thought I'd try my own riff on this old favorite, especially since the clouds were rolling in, and it was a cool summer night - perfect for a nice rich stewy curry.

Palak Potato Chicken


For the chicken

8-10 baby potatoes
2 large chicken thighs
4 cups baby spinach (or adult spinach - I had baby on hand and it seemed to go well with the baby potatoes - also, you could add in up to 8 cups and it would only get more delicious)
1 medium onion
1/2 cup cilantro (optional)
1 tsp fenugreek
1 tsp cumin
1 cinnamon stick (2-3 inches)
2 cups milk (or 1/2 cup cream)
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil

For the marinade

1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
Salt to taste


Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes and mix together with the marinade ingredients. Let sit for at least half an hour.

Heat 1-2 tbsp oil in a large saute pan. When a drop of water splutters in the oil, add in the onions, lower the heat, and saute on low heat until the onions start to get nice and caramely. Increase the heat to medium, then add the fenugreek, cumin, and cinnamon. 

Let the spices bloom a little, then add in the potatoes (cut into half). The potatoes aren't strictly necessary, but they do make this a nice hearty stew.  

Add in the chicken and let it brown for about 5 minutes. Then add in the spinach and stir to meld the flavors. Add in 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes or until reduced by half.

You could actually stop right there, but when I tasted it I found that it was quite salty. I'd forgotten that I had salted the chicken while marinating and added more salt in while everything was cooking! Yeesh. But thankfully there's a quick and easy fix - and it only makes the whole dish more tasty and rich, so that's what the final recipe ended up with: add 2 cups of milk. Bring to a boil once again, then it's done (you can also let it reduce a bit if you like). Alternately, you can add in a dash of cream to make everything rich and tasty, but it's not really necessary. And by the way, this trick works with any Indian curry that gets over-salted. 

At the very end, stir in the cilantro. 

You'll see I've noted cilantro as optional in this recipe - and in fact, in most recipes it can be optional. I love cilantro and think it adds a lovely zing and freshness to any dish. However, there are indeed those few individuals who drew the genetic short stick and are predisposed to thinking that cilantro tastes like soap or dirt. I know, I know! But we must not treat these individuals as lesser beings, but must gaze upon them pityingly and then make allowances. Serve the cilantro on the side for those who taste its brightness, but forego it in the curry itself in favor of having happy faces at your table if even one person thinks cilantro tastes like dirt. It's not their fault, poor things. They just have to live with never knowing the joy of cilantro. Alas. Even Julia Child was a cilantro hater! Then again, she also didn't like arugula - I may have to rethink my Julia Child loyalties here. Gasp!

1 comment:

  1. You can totally acquire a taste for cilantro through exposure! I am proof of that. Those cilantro-haters are just lazy :)


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