Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saffron-Basmati Rice with Chicken in Garam Masala Sauce, pg. 180

About thyme!! By far the most impressive dish so far.  This Indian inpired dinner was so simple yet rich in flavor. Let's first talk about the rice...Brown Basmati + chopped pistachio nutes + saffron threads = the pefect combination.  I will admit I was too cheap to buy the "real" saffron spice for $15.99/jar.  Instead, I stopped at the local Asian grocer to see if I could subsitute.  The gentleman told me they researched saffron after many requests and now sell a spice called Safflower for $.69.  Perfect....I didn't know the difference since I've never cooked with the real deal.

Let's move on to the sauce, coconut milk + 1 can of diced tomatoes + chicken broth + garam masala + fresh ginger, onion, and cilantro = delicious.  Anything coconut flavor I usually avoid.  In tonight's dish, I fell in love with the suttle sweetness.  Instead of garam masala, I used a cashew and cream gourmet Indian cooking sauce found at my new favorite market called Liberty Heights.

Husband Rating: 4.5/5 grains!!  Ben thought the sauce was outstanding with a well round texture and flavor.  He said having whole cashews and pineapple would have made it even better.  He's just copying ingredients from his favorite Thai dish.    -amy

Once again...Nice Photos Amy!! And you said you weren't a good photographer...I love it!  Since my pictures make the chicken look less than exciting, I'll leave you with the ones above for a visual.  I too absolutely loved this dish! It is a great balance of flavors and textures.

When picking the recipe for this week's cooking, I chose a chicken dish knowing very well that I would be doing some knife skills practice on chickens with my classmate, Nikita.  At the end of this quarter, we'll be expected to break down a chicken into 8 lovely pieces, including some de-boning, in under 9 minutes.  Considering that 2 months ago I was terrified of cutting apart a raw carcass of meat, I feel this is quite a challenge.  Niki and I got through 5 chickens that night and took all the chicken tenders for this dish.  Then we set out to cook the recipe...I realized halfway through that I didn't have any pistachios on hand like I'd thought, so we replaced with a can of chickpeas that were in my cupboard and it was a great switch. (Nikita's idea :).  We both thought the sauce could have reduced down further and become creamier if we'd let it meld for longer, but it was still deliciously flavored.

I haven't heard of the Safflower as a substitute for Saffron, so I'll look into that one & try it.  I managed to find a small portion for $5 of the real stuff that I went with, but I'm definitely up for a cheap swap-out!  We are doing more chicken cutting practice tomorrow, so I'll try to remember to take photos this time of what it takes to break down chickens! I spent all of last week in school on the "butcher station"...much more familiar with large pieces of meat and letting go of my discomfort with the whole practice.  Happy Cooking!


  1. Love it! Liberty Heights is fantastic, I'm glad you love! PS - if you ever need Indian spices (like garam masala) you know where my kitchen is! It may be a mess....but since the Indian store only sells in bulk, I've got years of spices :)

  2. Enjoyed it. Had no idea the saffron was so pricey, but the taste was worth it (since I didn't pay). Curious about the pistachios instead of chickpeas. What if I offered to buy those?

  3. Thanks for sending us the link Amy! Hi Vicki! I have begun to read your grain adventures aloud to Tony while he makes his dinner at night. Which usually makes us a little jealous depending on what youre making. The pic above looks fantastic Amy. I dont cook. At All. So we shall see if I can get inspired! Keep up the good work ladies! Miss you! Sam & Tony