It’s far easier to cook creativity when you are “born to” a family of spices. While my mother was not a creative cook and used only minimal spices, I learned to cook Italian at the same time my wife did and because of her heritage and the foods her family and extended family cooked for us, we had a very high standard of excellence. We began to experiment and expand our knowledge of Italian Spices. Of course there are many family tricks, like if the sauce scorches slightly, add a small amount of sugar, or if the new batch of oregano is bitter, use more basil.
I had the chance to be born again into the family of Puerto Rican Spices as I cooked with my good friend Chino. So I just naturally stuck with BBQ, Caribbean and Italian foods as my staples in life until I stumbled on Monica’s Blog of Indian Foods. I don’t know what possessed me to try a new genera, except I was probably bored with the same old flavors. The hardest problem in cooking good Indian Food is finding all the spices and from experience I hate to alter a recipe before I have tried the real deal.
Over time, I have managed to assemble quite a collection of Indian spices and the only one I am not quite sure if I like the flavor is star anise, and it seems I may have figured out the reason why when I was delayed from eating this meal on the day I cooked it and ate it the day after. When you cook Indian Food at low temperatures the first flavor which develops is the star anise and it has a strong Sambuca like flavor which is OK to drink but I am not sure I want it in my food. Since I ate out even though I had prepared the food in my coffeepot, I decided to eat it the next day.
It was fantastic as all the flavors merged together to become one.
For the marinade
6 oz chicken (I used thighs with bone. The original recipe calls for up to a pound)
1tsp black pepper
1T grated garlic (More than the original but I like it.)
1 T fresh grated ginger (More than the original but I like it.)
1/2tsp garam masala
1 T dried coriander (No fresh available.)
2 T yoghurt
For the masala (Sauce Blend):
3 T olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
Pinch of cinnamon powder
1 onion, diced
1 slice 1/8 inche hot pepper
1 T grated garlic
1 T grated ginger
salt (according to taste)
1tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp paprika powder
1 T coriander
4 oz crushed Tomatoes
1.Mix the marinade in a bowl until uniform, add the chicken pieces.
2.Leave to marinate for one hour in the fridge
3.While waiting, add oil to coffeepot and when hot add cumin, cloves, hot pepper, cinnamon powder, bay leaf and star anise.
4.Once the seeds start to sizzle, add the onion and cook until glazed over about 1 hour
5.Add garlic and ginger and stir into pot
6.Next add the garam masala, turmeric powder, coriander, and paprika. Mix until uniform
7.Add the crushed tomatoes, stir and let cook 1 hour
8.Add the marinaded Chicken and stir until uniform
9.Cover with foil and cook 2 to 4 hours until separates with fork
10.Serve wih brown rice.
In my case I had to refrigerate over night and reheat it the next day. It still amazes me that someone can create a fantastic meal using more than a dozen spices and half a dozen additional flavors and have it come out excellent.