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
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.