Saturday, December 12, 2015

Week 42 - Whole Spices

I made this ages ago. Not sure why it took me this long to finish writing the post...

When the Week 42 theme came up as whole spices, I immediately knew I wanted to make Indian food. Many of the dishes I've made before with whole spices have been Indian, so that seemed like an easy choice. After searching through the thousands of recipes I saved on my laptop, I found one for chicken jalfrezi that sounded good and decided to adapt that for dinner. (I originally got the recipe from last year, but that link seems to be dead now, so here's a link from a different site.)

The chicken jalfrezi recipe called for mustard seeds, which I already had on hand. I also added in some cumin seeds. The recipe listed ground cumin, so I did use some of that, but I figured some cumin seeds for extra cumin flavor couldn't hurt.

The ingredients I used for the chicken (adapted from the original recipe) were:

- 1 large spoonful of coconut oil
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 inch ginger, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 jalapeƱo pepper, chopped
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped

I'm not going to price this one out since it would be a bit hard to calculate the exact cost of the spices so many weeks later, but by our estimates, it was a pretty decent price for dinner for 2.

The steps for making the chicken jalfrezi were:

1. Prep all the ingredients. There was a lot of chopping and slicing to do, and based on the original recipe, it seemed like it would go fairly quickly, so similar to the way I do Chinese stir-fries, I did most of the prep in advance before starting to cook.

2. Heat coconut oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garam masala, cumin seeds, cumin, mustard seeds, and turmeric. Stir until fragrant (about a minute or so).

3. Add onions, ginger, and garlic. Stir for a few minutes until onion softens. 

4. Add the red peppers, green peppers, and chiles. Cook until the peppers soften. (The recipe said to do this for 5 minutes, but I think I must have had more peppers than the original recipe, so I cooked it for longer than that.)

5. Add chicken and cook until it starts to brown. Then add the tomatoes and cilantro, turn the heat down to low, and simmer until everything is cooked through.

At some point in the process, I also did some tasting to see how it was, and added more of all of the spices. Considering all the spices that were in it, it had been tasting kind of bland, and like it was missing something. It looked nothing like its picture with a thick yellowish sauce that looked like it was full of spice. I'm not sure why mine just looked like Christmas.

Overall, we thought this dish was okay. It tasted fine, and it tasted healthy, and you could taste the spices, but it just wasn't as good as I thought it would be from the pictures and the recipe comments (which I can no longer see). I don't know that I need to make this again, but it was good for the challenge night's dinner.

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