My sister and I took an Indian cooking class a few months ago taught by the lovely and talented Neelam Batra. She told us about her published cookbooks, and I immediately fell in love with one of them. It's called Chilis to Chutneys, and it features an assortment of recipes that combine Indian flavors with more western style dishes. And thank heavens, it does NOT refer to itself as "Indian Fusion."
The fact is, I love Indian food. With most of my heart. An even bigger portion of my heart, however, I use to love my husband, who does not dig the Indian food. So this cookbook is a great solution - it brings Indian spices within his comfort zone. Case in point with this dish. At first glance, it's just your typical stir fry. But when you take a bite, it surprises you with some bold Indian spices that you weren't expecting. He definitely liked it.
It also features one of my favorite flavors, cilantro. I realize there are cilantro haters out there - and they will want to skip this dish. But it reminds me of a delicious cilantro chicken my mother always made that is one of my all time favorites of her recipes. Something about cilantro and tomato - it's just a beautiful combination.
I improvised a bit with what I had on hand, so this is my version of Ms. Batra's recipe. Feel free to change up the spices to use whatever Indian goodies you have in your cupboard.
adapted from Neelam Batra's Chilis to Chutneys
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz. can unsalted diced tomatoes, drained
1 generous cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound chicken breast tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion and ginger, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic and tomatoes, and cook, stirring, until a cohesive sauce starts to form, about 5 minutes.
2. Add cilantro, garam masala, cumin, salt, pepper, and chicken. Cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is mostly cooked, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper strips, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes to marry the flavors. Serve over rice, or with naan.