Monday, October 31, 2011

Chicken Pasanda

Pasanda is a North Indian and Pakistani dish that dates all the way back to the Mughal empire.  Traditionally prepared in a heavy cream sauce, this version relies on much healthier homemade nut butter for a thick, rich sauce.  You'll want to use the pita wedges to scoop the last of the creamy sauce from your plate.

  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews
  • 2 cups plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 seeded jalapeno peppers
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 6 Gardein Tuscan chicken breasts (without sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 cup cubed pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 (6-inch) pitas
1. Place 1/2 cup cashews in a food processor and process for about 2 minutes, until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once.  Add the yogurt; process until blended.  Set aside.

2. Combine the onion, lemon juice, ginger, and jalapenos in a blender or food processor; process until finely chopped.  Set aside.

3. Place the coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large zip-top plastic bag.  Cut each chicken piece into thirds, and add the chicken pieces to the bag; seal and shake to coat.

4. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken; cook for 4 minutes on each side.  Remove the chicken from the pan.

5. Add the onion mixture to the pan.  Reduce heat to medium and cook anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes, until the liquid is evaporated, stirring frequently.  Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the yogurt mixture; cook for a final 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

6. Spoon 1/2 cup of the yogurt mixture onto the center of each of 6 plates.  Top each serving with 3 chicken pieces, and sprinkle each serving with about 2 and 1/2 tablespoons pineapple, 1 teaspoon chopped cashews, and 1 teaspoon cilantro.  Cut the pitas into 6 wedges each, and place 4 pita wedges on each plate.

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1/2 cup yogurt mixture, 3 chicken pieces, 2 and 1/2 tablespoons pineapple, 1 teaspoon cashews, 1 teaspoon cilantro, 4 pita wedges), Calories 368 

Tasting Notes:
Easily one of the most visually arresting dishes I've ever made.  And the taste did not disappoint.  The spice-crusted layer on the Gardein chicken was absolutely wonderful. I was curious how the pineapple would fit in with the rest of the dish, but the sweetness was a great contrast to the spice rub and the jalapenos in the yogurt sauce.  The yogurt sauce itself was full of bright jalapeno and ginger flavors.  I would use less onion and jalapeno, though and add more cashews, but the texture was wonderfully creamy.  Much to my surprise, leftovers heated in the microwave the next day were even better.  This may be because I also warmed the leftover pita, which made everything tastier.


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