Poultry & Pork

The Duo’s Ethnic Exploration: Indian

Our apologies for those who may have come across this post earlier in the week. There was a malfunction with the image, and we had to recook the dish in order to grab another photo. If you already read through the info, hopefully you won’t feel like this is a duplication of information. We wanted to share this with everyone of course, so bear with us! Technical difficulties aside, it’s time for a new feature here on the blog.  We like to keep things fresh, so come along with us as we start our own culinary exploration through La La Land (aka Los Angeles).  We’ll call this series The Duo’s Ethnic Exploration, and each month, we’ll choose a dish from a different culture, shop in the markets, visit the neighborhoods and chat with people who can give us a few hints behind the making of a chosen dish.  This month, we’re starting with Indian food.

If you ask anyone in LA County where they shop for Indian products, nine times out of ten, they will tell you India Sweets and Spices.  It is our favorite market in all of the city for Indian food.  They have an array of produce, frozen foods, teas, sauces, spices, beverages and more.  In addition to food, they sell cookware  There are eight locations throughout Southern California, so you can most likely find one near you.  We set up a visit with the owner, Mr. Kumar Jawa, and he let us meander through the aisles documenting everything and grabbing items along the way.  He also treated us to a steaming hot cup of sweet chai tea in the next door eatery.   When we walked out of the door with ghee, garam masala, coriander and coconut, we knew exactly what we’d be making–cashew chicken.

The flavors of this dish are very pronounced. There’s the nuttiness of the cashews, the smokey sweetness of paprika and five spice powder, spice from fresh jalapeno and serrano and, of course, the distinctive aroma and taste of fennel seeds, mustard seeds, coriander, bay leaves and star anise in the garam masala. We used whole garam masala, which has stronger flavor properties that last longer than the pre-ground variety. Underneath it all, there is a velvety level of the sauce that can only be attributed to the use of ghee–clarified butter. If you want to make your own version of cashew chicken, feel free to adapt this recipe to your tastes.

Cashew Chicken – Serves 4
1 pound chicken thighs, boneless, skinless and cut into 1″ pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons five spice powder
1 serrano pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1/8 cup whole garam masala or (2 tablespoons ground garam masala)
6 cloves garlic
1/8 cup crystallized ginger
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1/4 cup dessicated unsweetened coconut*
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, lightly chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium red onion, sliced
3 tablespoons ghee

1. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl with the yogurt, lemon juice, paprika, cayenne pepper, ancho chile powder, coriander, cumin, and five spice powder. Mix well and set aside.

2. Put the serrano pepper, jalapeno pepper, whole garam masala, garlic, ginger, cilantro and cashews in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add to the chicken and mix well. Cover and slide in the fridge to marinate 2 hours.

3. When ready to cook, add ghee to a wide pan. Once melted, add the onions and cook until they begin to soften and go translucent, approximately 3-5 minutes.

4. Add the chicken, scraping all of the sauce into the pan. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in the coconut and cilantro.

*This is not shredded or flaked coconut that you would normally buy at the grocery store. You can usually find dessicated coconut at Indian or Thai markets or high end grocery stores and specialty markets. It will be much cheaper at an ethnic market, so grab it if you can! If you can’t find it, use any unsweetened coconut and toss it into the food processor to break it up into smaller bits.

Click HERE for the recipe.


26 thoughts on “The Duo’s Ethnic Exploration: Indian

  1. Cashews in a main course? You can’t go wrong with that!

    What a fun idea of you guys to explore a different cuisine every month. Only recently I realised I know nothing of Indian food but once I got stuck in I got completely lost in it, so vast it is.

  2. This is a great new feature and I can’t wait to see what you guys cook! I love exploring ethnic neighborhoods, markets and shops! I also LOVE Indian food and this recipe is a dazzler! You have shown what I love so much about this cuisine: a fantastic list of ingredients, amazing flavors yet not a lot of cooking steps. I have to try this one! Delicious! And funny that you HAD to make (and eat!!) this twice just to get the perfect picture! Yum!

  3. The vegetarian counter at the Atwater Village location of India Sweets and Spices is MY JAM!!! It is pipin’ hot and ridiculously cheap… something like $4 for a 3-item combo. DROOL….

  4. This looks awesome. I love to venture out of the usual and try cooking something new. Great tip on where to get Indian spices, I’m still on the lookout for info like this. What a score for me!

  5. I love Indian food so this it right up my alley. And speaking of alleys India Sweets & Spices is within walking distance of my condo and I’ve never been! That changes as of right now! 🙂

  6. What a great idea! I need to do something like that. Thankfully I have so many friends from all over the world here that it shouldn’t be that difficult… the difficult part would be getting them together, hehe.

    Nice recipe, too!

  7. I wish I was better about experimenting in the kitchen with different cuisines. I tend to get in my little ruts – mostly Italian-type dishes with a whole lot of quinoa mixed in!

  8. I love this cashew chicken, so creamy and luscious. Glad you used homemade garam masala. Better then the one you buy from the store.

  9. Envy! I’m wishing I had an Indian market like that around here.

    That’s the tough thing about living in the ‘burbs. I’m limited as to the ethnic markets around. Plenty of Latin American in my ‘hood, but not much else.

    The dish looks delicious. I love Indian nut-based gravies. Now I have a craving!

  10. I wish I had your La La Land Indian market. I’ve got one close, but it’s an odd store. Mostly frozen premade Indian products, with a few vegies delivered once per week. This looks like a wonderful dish.

  11. Love Indian cuisine, don’t explore it nearly enough, so thanks for taking me along for the journey. This dish sounds incredible.

    BTW – I’d had trouble last week posting comments, so fingers crossed, I’m back in action – I was so proud of myself, thought I ‘d gotten caught up too

  12. I love this new feature! Exploring ethnic cuisine is one of the best parts of learning to cook…you can travel all over the world without actually leaving your home. This cashew chicken sounds awesome. I can tell is must be delicious based on all the spices.

  13. How nice, to even get a “tour” of the place. I think there is an Indian grocery store next to my school called Madras or something like that. I love that you’re venturing out of the norm and trying something new.

  14. Sounds like my daddy’s recipe! Don’t you just love India Sweets & Spices?

    We should hit up Little India and I’ll take you guys to my favorite spots! Little India crawl…?

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