One of my New Year’s resolutions (for both 2009 and 2010) was to learn more about Indian cuisine. Of course, that is a lofty goal – there are nearly as many variations on Indian cuisine as there are people in India! But in an effort to start somewhere, I looked to Monica Bhide. A while back, I ordered a copy of her book, Modern Spice. I immediately fell in love with the book. Monica shares stories surrounding many of her dishes – stories ranging from her childhood to enjoyable times with family and friends. And the recipes? Astounding. No old-fashioned Indian fare here. Instead, she shares recipes for various cocktails (Guava Bellini, anyone?) and a snack I absolutely must try: Cilantro-Lemon Corn Pops (popcorn spiced with onion, lemon, peanuts, and chile powder), not to mention so many other amazing recipes that it took me a while to decide which to try first. I finally settled on a simple, speedy chicken dish. Red Chile, Garlic, and Basil Chicken was a quick stir-fry that boasted some clean, bold, bright flavors. I opted to make it a curry by adding a bit of coconut milk.
This dish is by no means extravagant. As you can see, it doesn’t take a long list of hard-to-find ingredients. The red chiles I used were dried red chiles I found at an Asian market, but if you don’t have those available, you could use about a 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red chile pepper. The flavors of this dish were so deep, cheery and comforting, however, that it tasted as though it had to be difficult to make. (Those are my favorite kinds of meals!) I loved it, and I can’t wait to make something else from Monica’s book!
Red Chile Chicken, Garlic and Basil Curry, adapted from Modern Spice
1 T olive oil
4 medium shallots, sliced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
3-4 dried red chiles, roughly pounded
scant 1/2 t ground turmeric
1/4 t kosher salt
1 lb ground chicken (preferably dark meat)
1/3 c lite coconut milk
7-8 basil leaves
In a large lidded skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes until the garlic begins to change color. Add the chiles, turmeric, and salt. Saute for 1 minute. Add the chicken and saute for about 5 minutes. Then add the coconut milk, cover, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until chicken is done.
Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Add the basil leaves and stir in. Remove from heat and serve hot. Serve with steamed basmati rice.