Grains are all the rage these days. Whole grains. Ancient grains. Lots of hard-to-cook grains.
I am supposed to be foregoing white rice and eating only whole grains because I am borderline diabetic, and the disease runs in my family. But I long for white rice because it’s so easy to cook.
I’ve caved a few times, but mostly I’m doing OK. I plan my whole grains in advance, and I make enough to have leftovers. I got a boost this month from Cook’s Illustrated, which did a primer on how to cook grains other than rice.
One of the fastest and easiest is quinoa, so when I recently made chicken tikka masala, I served it over that instead of basmati rice. G. loved it, which made me love him even more.
To cook quinoa, bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of raw quinoa and cook it for 15 to 20 minutes. The water will absorb into the grain.
And here is the chicken recipe, only slightly modified from a version provided by Penzey’s:
Chicken Tikka Masala
2 cups boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into chunks
1-2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon tandoori seasoning (you can buy this from Penzey’s)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups tomato puree or sauce
a few grinds of fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon cashew nut paste (grind 1 tablespoon of cashews in a coffee grinder)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, yogurt, garlic and spices. Mix to combine. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy pan. Add the chicken and cook until the meat is white and almost cooked through. To keep the chicken from drying out, I kept the lid on the pan and just lifted it occasionally to stir the meat to keep it from sticking.
Add the tomato sauce and mix well. Add the pepper, cream and cashew paste. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the chicken is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir until the sauce thickens. Add the butter and salt and mix well. Serve with quinoa and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.