Since we've had our first two frosts, I am dusting off the crock pot and having the urge to sit down with a good book! I want to share an Indian recipe that my family loves, and that I will make for Diwali. It's a lighter version of Chicken Makhani, a.k.a. "Butter Chicken."
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts (can be frozen)
1 medium onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
4 Tbsp. butter
15 cardamom pods (sewn together with needle and thread)*
2 tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. garam masala
½ tsp. ground ginger
1 14-oz. can light coconut milk
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt (can be fat-free)
Place frozen chicken in 5-quart or larger crockpot. Layer with diced onions and dot with butter, and place cardamom seeds or pods in the middle of the layers. In a medium bowl, mix tomato paste, coconut milk, lemon juice, garlic, curry, cayenne pepper, garam masala, and ginger. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4 - 4 ½ hours. 30 minutes before serving, remove and discard cardamom pods. Remove pieces of chicken and shred, then return it to the sauce to stay warm. Stir in plain yogurt 15 minutes before serving.
Serve over brown, jasmine, or basmati rice.
* If you can't find whole cardamom pods, you can empty out a cheap tea bag and fill with the equivalent amount of cardamom seeds. 18-20 seeds = one pod. Just tie the ends of the tea bag with kitchen string and let it steep in the crock pot.
The Indian book recommendation is Motherland by Vineeta Vijayaraghavan. It was in the "young adult" category at our library, and is an excellent, universal examination of family and growing up. The main character is a young woman in high school who goes to live with her uncle, aunt and grandmother in south India for the summer. She grows to understand and have compassion for her family members in a new way.
Because she is an "outsider" in some ways as an American, the book had many insights for me about the culture and tradition of that part of India. It was a great read!
Cozy up and enjoy the crisp weather!