Chicken Masala

I am not passionate about the Indian cuisine; in fact, there are only a few dishes that I truly enjoy, and mostly have to be without much chili. Of course, I opine like this without ever having set foot on the Indian sub-continent… maybe a trip to India would change my mind and taste buds… In the meantime, tikka masala or chicken masala is one dish that I do like to order when going out. And it so happens that this dish is almost considered part of the national British cuisine! When eating out however, I’m always weary of the sauce and what is used to thicken it. Additionally, it’s invariably served with rice.

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So when I saw a version by The Urban Poser for a masala side dish, I knew I had to try it. What I’ve created below is an adaptation of Jenni’s recipe.

The unique component is the method of cooking the cauliflower “rice”, which makes the vegetable crunchy instead of mushy. My husband is not a fan of cauliflower “rice” and the only way I’ve enjoyed it before is as fried “rice”. However, after eating this, my husband was very complimentary and said he had not even noticed it was cauliflower at all!

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That’s quite a positive comment coming from his very critical palate!

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I created my own mixture of Garam Masala spices, based primarily on the recipe Jenni recommends, and added a few other spices of my own. You can, of course, simply substitute for a ready-made Garam Masala mix. The chili, I added separately in order to control the spiciness to my preference. Feel free to add more or less chili, depending on your taste.

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Also, I would recommend using dark chicken meat instead for a tastier and more moist version of this dish. I just didn’t have any on hand.

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(These last photos are the progression of the cauliflower cooking, so you can see the colour transformation.)

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Chicken Masala
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 500g chicken breasts, washed and cut into bite-size pieces (if you prefer to use dark meat, it’s tastier)
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons green paprika pepper, chopped or julienne
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, partially peeled and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons Garam Masala, from the mixture below*
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • lard
  • butter
  • fresh cilantro
  • For the Garam Masala:
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Instructions
  1. Mix the spices for the Garam Masala and set aside.
  2. Clean the cauliflower and cut into large florets. “Rice” with a food processor. Set aside.
  3. In a wok or large shallow pan, melt about 2 tablespoons of lard.
  4. Cook the chicken pieces until done, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to brown on all sides. Remove from pan when done and set aside.
  5. In the same pan over high heat, melt about 2 tablespoons of butter or oil of preference.
  6. Immediately add the “riced” cauliflower and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  7. Allow the cauliflower to fry until it starts to brown a bit, then stir it around, again spreading into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Repeat a few times until the cauliflower starts to get brown and with slightly black flecks all over it. Remove from heat and transfer to a separate dish. Set aside.
  8. Again in the same pan, add another tablespoon or a bit more of butter and melt over low heat.
  9. Add the onion, garlic and pepper and sauté until the onion pieces are translucent.
  10. Add the carrots and zucchini and stir fry until “al-dente” or to your liking.
  11. Add 3 teaspoons of the Garam Masala mix, sea salt (to taste) and the chili powder. Stir well and cook about 1 minute.
  12. Add the chicken pieces and mix well.
  13. Add the 1/3 cup water and mix well. Cook until the water has evaporated, but a bit of sauce is left.
  14. Turn off the heat and add the “riced” cauliflower. Mix well.
  15. Serve immediately and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.