creamy, Indian chicken and eggplant

If you know me at all, you know I have a long standing love affair with Indian food. And although I tend to gravitate more towards the vegetarian Indian dishes (like palak paneer) I enjoy the meat dishes as well. And I love me a good chicken tikka masala. Between the mildly spiced tomato cream sauce and the tender pieces of juicy chicken, what’s not to love? Seriously, if you think you don’t like Indian food, give chicken tikka masala a try. I’ve never met anyone who tried it and didn’t like it, and I’m not sure I want to.

Let me say, this is NOT a recipe for chicken tikka masala but it is a recipe inspired by chicken tikka masala. Also, if you are opposed to using cream (or half and half), look away now because this recipe isn’t low fat. It utilizes both half and half and sour cream. I threw in some eggplant to make myself feel better.

Creamy, Indian chicken and eggplant:

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 heaping tbsp of grated or finely minced ginger
3 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium eggplant, cut into bite sized 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup of half and half
1/4 cup of sour cream
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss in the onion, garlic and ginger. Sautee until the onions, garlic and ginger are browned and carmelized. This will take 10-15 minutes. Don’t skip this step! It’s where a lot of the flavor comes from. If you find the mixture is burning, add a tbsp or two of water.

2. Add the spices: the garam masala, cumin, coriander and cayenne and stir for 30 seconds until you start to smell the spices.

3. Add the chicken and sautee for 3 minutes until the chicken is almost cooked through. Add the eggplant and sautee for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Add the tomato paste and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the half and half and let simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring to combine everything. The half and half will thicken and turn a beautiful orange color from the tomato paste.

5. Take a small amount of the simmering chicken and eggplant in the sauce and mix it with the sour cream in a separate bowl before adding it back into the skillet. This will temper the sour cream so it doesn’t curdle. Once you add the sour cream to the skillet, stir to combine everything. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

6. Turn off the heat and sprinkle the cilantro over the top. Serve over jasmine or basmati rice or with naan.

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