GINNA PARSONS: Indian dish worth making a second time

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

My husband and I have recently discovered that we really like Indian food. But because we’re trying to eat with an eye toward better health, we’re preparing almost all of our meals at home.
Back in mid-January, I remembered a recipe given to me by a cook of the week named Gladys Diaz. She actually prepared this chicken dish when I went to interview her and I remember taking a bite and thinking it was one of the best things I’d ever put in my mouth.
I dusted the recipe off and made a few changes. I reduced the amount of oil in the recipe, which called for 6 tablespoons, and I substituted ground spices for some of the whole spices Gladys used (both because I couldn’t find some of them and because of the expense of others).
The fresh ginger, cardamom and turmeric give this dish an interesting flavor and color. I served it over basmati rice, and Charlie and I both thought it was restaurant-quality. I’m making it again this week.

Chicken in Light Sauce
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 cup water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1-inch) cube of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 to 5 teaspoons water
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Lemon juice
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Combine tomato sauce, yogurt and 1 cup water in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
Place garlic, ginger and 2 tablespoons water in a blender and blend to a smooth paste. Set aside.
Place chicken in lemon juice for about 10 minutes. Remove from juice, rinse, and pat dry. Cut chicken into large chunks. Heat oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown chicken on all sides; remove from pot.
Add cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom, cloves and cayenne pepper to oil in pot; stir once. Spices will darken. Pour paste from blender into pot; add turmeric and stir for 1 minute. Return browned chicken to pot and add tomato sauce mixture, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower heat. Simmer gently for 20 to 25 minutes, turning chicken often. Serve over white rice.
Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.