Garam Masala Chicken

We really like our Indian cuisine, well the kids maybe not so much, but the husband and I definitely do!  After a recent meal at an Indian restaurant I decided to try to cook a dish myself.  Chicken masala is one of my favorites, so naturally this was the first recipe I attempted.  I looked up a few variations, but in the end, melded them together to make my own.  I kept it fairly mild to make it more palatable for the children, but feel free to add some cayenne pepper if you like extra heat.  I served this dish over yellow turmeric rice and it was perfect!

Garam masala, the dishes' key ingredient, is an aromatic blend of ground spices used extensively in Indian cooking.  It translates from Hindi as “hot spice mix.”  The mixture of spices varies from region to region and household to household, but commonly includes cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, coriander, nutmeg and bay leaf.  It can be purchased from an international market or just about any grocery store with a decent spice selection.

Apart from adding flavor, garam masala also has many health benefits.  The spices offer powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-oxidant properties which can improve cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar levels, improve memory, aid in digestion and enhance metabolism.

1 ½ - 2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breast or thighs
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
4 Tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp garam masala
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground ginger or 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 cups tomato sauce
½ cup water
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish

1. Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, cumin and coriander.  
2. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Fry the chicken until cooked through, turning once or twice.  Remove chicken and set aside.  
3. In the same pot, melt the remaining butter and cook the garlic for about 1 minute, until fragrant.  
4. Add the garam masala, turmeric, and ginger.  Cook for an additional minute.  
5. Add the tomato sauce and water.  Let sauce come to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for about 5 - 10 minutes.  Adjust sauce for salt.  For extra heat, add cayenne pepper to taste.  
6. While sauce is cooking, shred or cut up the chicken into bite size pieces.  
7. Add the chicken to the sauce, mix well, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.