Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chicken Pakoras with a Twist

One of my greatest pleasures about cooking is using various, ethnically diverse spices.  I absolutely love to spice up my dishes with both fresh and dried herbs.  It has taken a very long time, however, to learn when and how to use them to their fullest potency.  Today I used myriad spices from my overcrowded spice cupboard to make a wonderful, warm, Indian comfort food:  pakoras.  Mind you, pakoras can be made from many different meats and vegetables, but today, I used chicken. I will throw in a picture later, where I used small chunks of pork tenders.  That is key, by-the-way, to use tender pieces of meat!

Here's my spice line-up, and keep in  mind, double the recipe of spices and separate!  You will use one for the buttermilk bath and one for the dredge or batter (we'll talk).  Have two large bowls set aside!

Half teaspoon Tumeric
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
Half palm full of Fenugreek leaves (crumbled in the palms of your hands for maximum flavor)
1 tablespoon Cumin (or ground cumin seed)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
Pinch of salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder  (if you like)   ***I used ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon Garam Masala (This could be omitted as much of what we are already adding is part of this)
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground mustard
Two cups plain Greek Yogurt (do not separate)
1 quart and half a cup of buttermilk (separate the quart and the half cup, only)
2 cups Chickpea flour
Siracha Chili Sauce
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice (just for the buttermilk bath) and an extra teaspoon or two for dipping sauce

Some of the ingredients for the buttermilk bath and dredge/batter

So you have two piles of spices in two different large bowls, right? Stir the spices in each bowl.  To one bowl, add a quart of Buttermilk and stir the spices very well.  Set the other bowl aside for now.  On a cutting board, cube a pound of boneless, skinless chicken tenders, breasts or thighs.  (I love using the thigh meat, but today, I used chicken cutlets).  Add the cubed chicken to the spicy buttermilk bath and store in the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes.  

Meanwhile, you can do one of two things.  You could use the second pile of spices with a cup of plain low-fat or full-fat Greek Yogurt incorporated thoroughly, with a half cup of buttermilk and two cups of chickpea flour.  Again, mix thoroughly!  If it is not batter consistency (too thick), you can add water, a little at a time, until it becomes pancake batter consistency.    The other thing you could do, is to create a drudge bowl, adding the chickpea flour and thoroughly mixing that with the spices.  All you would have to do is to take the chicken bites from the buttermilk bath and dredging them in the spice/flour mix.

Whichever method you use (I used the second, today), add the battered or dredged chicken bites to hot canola, vegetable or grapeseed oil.  I do not deep fry, but add two cups of oil to a large high-sided fry pan.  You will know when the oil is ready when you see the oil rippling, or, if you dip a wooden spoon into the oil and it bubbles, or, simply drop a tiny drop of batter into the oil and it bubbles.  TIP:  I use chop sticks for adding the chicken to the pan and a second set to turn and remove them.  My little system.
As you add the chicken bites, remember to not crowd them.  They cook very fast, so do not turn your back on them!  I set them on a baking sheet over a wire rack and keep them in the oven at 250-degrees. This helps to keep them crispy.

I made a dipping sauce with a quarter cup of yogurt, a teaspoon of Siracha (hot chili sauce), a teaspoon of evoo, a little cracked fresh black pepper, one clove of garlic, grated, and a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. 
I hope you will try this easy Indian comfort food recipe on a cold winter's day, or for a special celebration.  Let me know how you like it!

Above, I have pork pakoras over pan fried udon noodles. Below, chicken pakoras with siracha dipping sauce.

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