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.