Using a variety of herbs and spices in your cooking is an excellent way to bring new flavors and textures to your food. Once upon a time, the most exotic thing you could find in your supermarket spice aisle was tarragon or maybe herbes de provence. Spice companies are now marketing an incredible variety of spice blends, whole and ground spices and herbs. Even if you live in an area where the selection is limited, as long as you have an internet connection, you can place an order from a good online spice retailer. Penzeys , Vanns Spices, The Spice House and Kalustyans all offer a wide array of herbs and spices. You can also find recipes using the spices on these websites, in case you are not familiar with what to do with the spices. I have found what stops most people from trying a new herb or spice, is that they just don’t know what to make with it.
A favorite spice of mine is the garam masala, a blend of seasonings commonly used in Indian cooking. There is really no set recipe for garam masala, as it will differ in each region of India and in each household in India. You can make your own, or find a good quality one you like.
Indian Spiced Chicken
2 TB vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken breast, cut into large chunks
1 tsp sea salt, divided
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 TB + 1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 (14 ounce) can light or regular coconut milk
1 1/2 pounds small waxy potatoes
In a large skillet on medium high, heat the oil. Add the chicken, 1/2 tsp of salt and red pepper flakes, cook 4 – 5 minutes, until chicken is browned. Remove the chicken to a plate, and reserve.
Lower the heat slightly, then add the shallot, garlic, garam masala, ginger and cumin to the pan. Stirring frequently so the spices do not burn, cook 3 – 5 minutes until the shallot has softened and the spices are fragrant.
Add the chicken broth to the pan, scraping the bottom with the spoon to release all the caramelized flavors into the broth. Add the reserved chicken, coconut milk, potatoes and the remaining 1/2 tsp salt to the pan.
Bring the chicken to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
This dish has a bit of heat from the red pepper flakes. If you prefer a milder dish add less, and if you like it hot, add more. Serve this with a nice cold beer or a chilled Riesling to temper that heat.