When I think of Indian food I think color, flavor and comfort. I introduced my <then> picky husband to Indian food when we first got married and he can’t get enough! We now have curry at least three times a month. Indian food has complex flavors but the dishes are usually so easy to execute – just my kind of cooking! I am a sucker for a good whole roasted chicken so when I found this recipe on Food & Wine, I just had to try it. Of course, I switched it up a bit (I can’t help but do that to every recipe!) The original recipe calls for some kind of fig jus which I didn’t fancy, and that would have made it a much more expensive dish. I added a few steps/ingredients as well.
Obviously one can’t just have chicken for dinner (although this chicken is so delicious I’m starting to doubt that fact), so I wanted to come up with a simple side- one that I already had all the ingredients for. Saag Aloo is a DELICIOUS Indian side dish that could really go with anything. The smells floating through my house yesterday….sorry that I can’t share them with you on the internet! Maybe one day…!
One thing I ABSOLUTELY LOVED about this meal was that I only actually purchased ONE THING – the chicken. Everything else are staples in my kitchen (onion, garlic, spices, spinach etc). You just can’t beat delicious, easy and cheap!
I’m going to list these two dishes separately, because you really don’t have to have the two together.
Garam Masala Crusted Chicken – A yummy, roasted chicken that is bursting with flavor, tenderness and juiciness.
1 whole chicken (mine was about 4 1/2 lbs, and even though we’re on a budget we don’t scrimp on chicken – make sure it’s good quality!)
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup garam masala (I buy my spice mixes from the farmer’s markets here in the summer. You could try getting them online also, or click here for a simple recipe to make your own – I don’t know if it’s any good but worth a try!)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 an onion, in big chunks
5 whole cloves garlic, peeled
– Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl mix the oil, garam masala, chili powder and some salt & pepper. In a roasting pan, massage the oil/spice mixture over the top of the chicken, making sure to cover the skin completely. This makes the skin beautifully crispy and flavorful. Stuff the chicken with the chunks of onion and the cloves of garlic. I really think that this step makes a big difference in the juiciness of the chicken, and while the flavor is not particularly garlicky or oniony – it adds a little something.
Roast the chicken at 45o degrees for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and roast for another hour or so until the chicken is cooked. If the skin’s not crispy yet, increase the temperature back up to 45o and roast until crispy. Take it out and let rest for a good 10-15 minutes, then carve it up!
Saag Aloo (Indian Spinach & Potatoes) – The perfect healthy side (you could even use sweet potatoes or cauliflower as my Paleo-eating friend Mande suggested)
6 or so potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 an onion, sliced into thin, long slices
Fresh garlic, chopped (I used 2 or 3 cloves)
About 3 tbsp Curry powder
About 2 tsp Chili powder
About 1 tsp Ground Coriander seeds
About 1 tsp cumin
About 1 tbsp tomato paste
A little water, if needed
3 or 4 big handfuls fresh spinach
– Boil the potatoes in a pot of water until cooked. Meanwhile, sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add all your spices (I really eyeballed these and tasted as I went along), the tomato paste, salt & pepper, and a splash or two of water if necessary. The idea is to create a thick(ish) paste of spices around the onions/garlic but if it’s sticking to the bottom of the pan or it just looks too thick, go ahead and add a tiny bit of water to loosen everything up. Add your potatoes, and cover them with the onion/garlic/spice mixture for a few minutes.
Put a lid on your skillet, and throw it in the oven (I did this part while my chicken was resting, see end of recipe above) to roast for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes take the skillet back out (be super careful – don’t forget that the handle will be red hot!), throw some ripped up spinach in there, wilt it gently – and you’re done! Serve and enjoy!