Taj Maholla! Chicken

It’s been a tough afternoon in the vicinity of this woman’s kitchen.  The never ending to-do list in a three way collision with technology gone awry and the clock.  I needed a break and some dinner.  No time for an elaborate cooking experience and no time for a trip to the store.  And a serious craving for something with an Indian flair.  Who woulda figured that Guy Fieri would be the answer to this problem?

As my regular readers know I’m not usually much on short cuts, but I used two tonight that are favorites of mine.  I love brown rice, but it’s not unusual that I don’t remember to start it until I’m halfway through the rest of my prep.  Enter whole grain brown rice of the boil-in-bag variety.  Boil some water.  Drop in the bag.  Brown rice in 10 minutes.  The other short cut is as much about taste as time.  This recipe calls for Roma tomatoes.  Well, it’s February in Virginia, and while it’s been kind of warm lately the tomatoes still suck.  No taste at all.  And since these tomatoes were headed for a puree anyway, I used tomato paste with a little water.  Two good things about this:  it’s faster than chopping tomatoes and there won’t be any seeds in the final sauce.  One more quick tip about the tomato paste.  How many times have you opened one of those little cans of tomato paste, used 1-2 tablespoons and put the can in the fridge only to throw it out a week or two later?  I’ve started using tomato paste in a tube.  I get the double concentrated kind so I only use half of what’s called for.  Just put the cap back on and throw in the fridge.  It keeps great.  Look for it in the Italian section of the International foods aisle.

So, this is a two step dish.  First you make the rub for the chicken.  I made two substitutions here.  I didn’t have chicken thighs so I used boneless, skinless breast instead.  I had no pomegranate juice so I substituted cranberry juice.  I also changed the proportions a little.  All good.  The spices and juice cook down into a paste that’s rubbed on both sides of the chicken.  While the chicken cooks you make the sauce and the rice.  Use the same pan to make the sauce that you used to cook down the spice paste.  No need to dirty additional dishes, particularly since the spices are the same.  The sauce base of onions and spices doesn’t make a ton, which is fine since the flavors are pretty concentrated.  What that means, though, is that putting that small amount into a blender seems like overkill.  You could always skip that step, but I do like that this is a smooth creamy sauce.  The other option is to get a stick blender, also called an immersion blender.  They generally come with a tall container for mixing small amounts like this without flinging sauce all over the kitchen.  If the sauce base is too thick to puree easily add a little of the cream to the blender.

Because both the paste rub for the chicken and the sauce base are browned for several minutes, the flavors in this dish are very deep.  It makes a nice heat in the back of the throat.  Be careful about the salt.  I only used 1 teaspoon and that was plenty.  I did use salted butter also, so maybe that’s why.  Just go easy on the salt.  Don’t be too concerned if the sauce is a little salty when you taste it.  Remember that there’s no salt on the chicken so that will even things out in the sauce.

The verdict?  This is really, really good.  Warm and earthy and comfort-foody in a slightly exotic way.  A major improvement to my less than fun afternoon.  The taste is much richer than you’d expect from this amount of effort.  Gotta love that!

Good? Yes, yes, yes. One of my favs.
Easy? Relatively so, but we’ll call it intermediate because there are multiple things going on at once.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Pomegranate juice if you choose to use it.

Taj Maholla! Chicken


For the Chicken:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/8 cup minced ginger
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons Garam Masala, recipe follows
4 tablespoons cranberry juice
2 pounds skinless, bone-in chicken thighs

For the Butter Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced red onion
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala, recipe follows
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In large saute pan, over medium heat, heat oil. Add garlic and ginger and slowly cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add chili powder, turmeric, Garam Masala and cranberry juice. Let cool slightly. Rub chicken well with mixture and bake in a shallow baking pan for 25 minutes. Chicken will be three-quarters of the way cooked. When chicken is cool to the touch, remove bones and shred meat into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Meanwhile to make Butter Sauce: In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onions, ginger and garlic until light brown, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and continue sauteing until tomatoes begin to fall apart, about 5 minutes. Add spices and continue to cook 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Return puree back to pan and add cream and butter. Bring to a simmer and reduce for 5 minutes. Add shredded chicken and saute for 6 minutes more until chicken is cooked through. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with basmati rice, if desired.


One Response to “Taj Maholla! Chicken”

  1. Pam Says:

    Yum! I like this recipe! I envision a little squash thrown in for extra veggie goodness. Also, have you tried the canned fire roasted tomatoes? They have become a go-to staple for me in these winter yucky tomato months.

    Pam (AF)

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