Friday, January 25, 2013

Masala Chai & Peanut Chicken

Being a Kenyan, the love of tea is in my DNA. Like my mother likes to point out, any time is tea time. So this week on a particularly cold afternoon, I was sipping on a cup of masala chai (spiced tea), and I had an epiphany! If it tastes this good when I drink it, I wonder what it would do to my food if I cooked with it. Well, maybe not exactly "cook" with it, but marinate my food in it. The only way to find the answer was to try it out. And experiment I did. Well, I am here to tell you that the results were awesome and the recipe is a keeper. There were no leftovers and that was all the confirmation I needed that my little experiment had worked. Sometimes you have to think (and eat) outside the box. Do I always know if my little experiments in the kitchen will work? No. Do I not fear ruining perfectly good food? Yes. But there's no fun in living if you're not willing to step out on a limb sometimes. Life will be the same ol' same ol' if you don't try new things. So here's the a little :-)


-Medium cooking pot with a lid.
-Cutting board.
-Cooking spoon.
-Medium bowl with lid.
-Cling foil if you don't have a bowl with a lid.

-1 cup of water (for making the chai).
-1 teabag.
-3 pods of green cardamom (bruised).
-3 whole cloves.
-1 stick of cinnamon bark.
-2 peppercorns
-1 inch ginger root (peeled and thinly sliced).
-Three skinless, boneless chicken breasts, washed and cubed to bite-size pieces.
-1 teaspoon curry powder.
-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
-1/4 teaspoon turmeric.
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin.
-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
-1/4 teaspoon paprika.
-1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves.
-1 teaspoon salt (I use kosher).
-2 tablespoons of cooking oil (I use Canola).
-1 small onion, finely diced.
-1 teaspoon garlic paste or 3 cloves of garlic, minced.
-1 teaspoon ginger paste (can be found in produce section of grocery store).
-3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (you can buy at the grocery store or make your own).
-1 cup water (for cooking chicken).

-In a microwave safe cup, place the teabag, water, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorns and ginger and heat for 2 minutes. You can also do this on the stove on medium heat until the tea comes to a boil. Set aside and let the whole spices steep in the tea as the tea cools down.

-Once the tea has cooled down, run it through a strainer to remove the whole spices and tea bags. Discard these (you only want the tea).
-Place the chicken in a medium bowl and pour the cooled, strained tea into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a lid or cling foil and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (I let mine sit for 3 hours).

-After it has had time to marinate, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and drain out all the liquid marinade. Set the chicken aside.
-On medium heat, heat the cooking oil in your pot and add the onions. Stir frequently until they become translucent.

-At this point, add the garlic and ginger paste and stir (you want your garlic to look golden, not uncooked-yuck!)
-Add your chicken pieces to the pot and stir until the chicken does not have a pink appearance.
-Now add the turmeric and stir. Let it cook for 2 minutes.
-Add all the other spices and stir. If it appears to be getting stuck to the bottom of the pan, add 1/4 cup of water, stir and continue cooking.

-Add the peanut butter and stir to make sure it coats all the chicken.

-Now add the cup of water and stir. Cover the pot with it's lid, reduce the heat slightly and allow the chicken to simmer for 25-30mins. 
-Check back frequently to ensure that the sauce does not all evaporate. You want there to be some sauce, but a nice thick sauce and not too much of it.

-After 25-30mins, your stew should be ready to serve. Delicious!
I served mine with some potato and cumin rice, accompanied with lots of vegetables. Karibu (welcome)!