Indian Chicken with Lentils and Vegetables

To say you are eating Indian food is really open to interpretation since, India is a land of many mysteries and many different people from many different walks of life. Because this land has such a rich diversity of people from all different backgrounds, there is a wide variety of different kinds of foods as well. The Parsis or Parcees are a group of people who are “Persians,” who are descended from Persian Zoroastrians who emigrated to India to avoid religious persecution by Muslims. They live mostly on the West Coast of the Indian shores. Because their heritage is Persian, as you would expect, the foods are also mostly Persian as well. Most of the Indian foods found in America come from the Northern parts of India.

It was time for some chicken, but of course, I didn’t want anything ordinary. I know we just had an Asian Beef stir-fry the other day A Little Stir-Fry, but there is a huge difference between a Chinese style stir-fry and Indian food, especially food from the Parsi sector of India, so they were completely different, even though technically, both are considered Asian. The Parsi name for this dish is Dhansak.

When cooking ethnic foods, I like to prepare them as authentically as I can, so I tend to actually follow recipes a lot more closely than I normally do. Indian foods are always made with a wide variety of exotic spices, also known as Masala. There are two main types of Masala, but every region will produce a different variety depending on the kind of ingredients that are used in that region – The two main types of Masala re Godha and Tikha.

Godha – This Masala sauce does not use chilli, but is highly pungent due to its heavy use of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. With good quality spices this Masala is hot in its own right!  It tends to be a shade of brown.

Tikha – This is generally a hotter masala due to its primary use of chili as the main ingredient and so it is generally red in color.

This dish uses more of the Godha version of Masala.

Chicken with Lentils and Vegetables

The Masala

2 TBSP butter or ghee

1 onion, diced fine

1 TBSP ginger

1 TBSP garlic

1 jalapeno, diced fine

1 tsp tumeric

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp cloves

1 tsp cumin

Mix all the ingredients together and cook in the butter of ghee to make a paste.

The Lentils

1 cup lentils

3 cups water

Soak the lentils in cold water for at least 30 minutes, then drain and bring the lentils to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated.

The Main Dish

2 lbs chicken breasts

salt & peper to taste

1 onion, sliced very thin

1 jalapeno, diced fine

1 TBSP garlic

1 TBSP ginger

2 cups either zucchini, yellow crookneck squash or eggplant, or a combination thereof, sliced thin

1 can garbanzo beans or chickpeas, drained

1 can chicken broth

1 potato, diced

2- 3 cups spinach, stems removed and chopped

2 large tomatoes, diced large

1 TBSP dried mint

3 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped fine

olive oil and butter or ghee for cooking

Saute the onions, garlic, ginger and jalapeno in the butter/ghee and olive oil for about 3 minutes. Then add the chicken and continue to cook for about 20 minutes or until the onions start to caramelize and the chicken is tender, flipping the chicken over after about 10 minutes. Once the chicken is tender, remove the chicken and onion mixture from the skillet and set aside.

Add the vegetable mixture and Masala to the skillet and cook for about 5-7 minutes, then re-add the chicken and onion mixture as well as the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 more minutes.

When both the lentils and the chicken mixture are done, it is time to serve it up. I layered the chicken and vegetable sauce over the lentils and topped it all with more of the cilantro. I served it with some warmed naan bread on the side. I chose a light, crisp, citrusy chardonnay as my wine choice, which helped cut down some of the heat and spice from the meal.

Enjoy your meal or as they would say in Parsi, bho’jan ka aanand len.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.

Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

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