Friday, March 4, 2016

Chicken Keema, Indian Takeout

It always makes me uncontrollably happy when a kid is open to trying new foods. Even more when they enjoy it! Benjamin, my sons friend, tried chicken curry in our home once, and has ever since been asking his mom for it. Warmed my heart, so today when I made a big pot of Chicken Keema (ground chicken) I saved some for Benjamin to take home for lunch, on this cold and snowy day. His sweet dimpled smile was the icing on the cake for me. 

We grew up on eating all forms of Keemas, or ground meat— Lamb Keema, Turkey Keema, Chicken Keema, and more. The entire process takes an hour, but it makes for a one-pot dinner (well, almost one pot, not counting the rice or naan accompaniment). 

Serves 4 
Time: 1 hour

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
4 green cardamons, crushed

2 large white or red onions, minced 

Chicken Marinade
1 pound ground chicken (preferably dark meat)
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
Sliced green chilies, to taste (optional)
1 heaped teaspoon cumin powder
1 heaped teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Red chili powder, to taste (optional)

4 large tomatoes, cut in half / pureed in a blender
Salt, to taste

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

  1. In a medium sized pot, or a pressure cooker, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and cardamon pods. Let it cook for 20 seconds, until fragrant. Immediately add the minced onions, and a teaspoon of salt. (The salt helps the onions sweat and brown faster). Brown the onions for 45 minutes or so— Every few minutes, stir the onions, and scrape the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add a tablespoon of water if the browned bits do not come off, mix the onions and let them continue to brown. A deep reddish-brown color is desired, not a burnt black-brown color. The browning process is the most important process in achieving the depth of flavor and color, give it the love and time it deserves. The more browned bits you scrape up, the better it is. 
  2. While the onions brown, marinate the chicken in the ginger-garlic paste, green chilies, and dried spices.
  3. Once the onions have browned, add the chicken in its marinade. Mix well with the onions and let it cook for 3–4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cut side down, and a quarter cup of water. Cover and let it cook for 3 whistles if using a pressure cooker, or 15–20 minutes if using a regular pot. Remove the lid, pull the tomato skins off and smash the tomatoes and the chicken until the tomatoes are well broken up.
  4. Taste for salt and season accordingly. Serve with naan or Basmati rice.