Sous-Vide Cashew Chicken

June 20, 2015

This dish (sadly no picture as I'm lazy) has entered my culinary pantheon after the second time I made it. It combines a plethora of Indian spices, some of them (like Kala Namak, Amchoor and Black Cardamom) I had to mail order from India after futile searches in Israeli spice markets and specialty shops. The taste palette is comprised of sweet (from the cashews), sour (from the amchoor), hot (from the chili pepper), salty and umami (from the Kala Namak).

 

If you have trouble finding these special spices, you can substitute them as follows:

  • Black cardamom has a distinct smoked aroma. Use any smoked spice you can find (smoked salt, smoked paprika, dried (sans abodo) chipotles - the taste will be different but not necessarily bad.

  • Amchoor has a sour taste. Squeeze half a lime or some lemon juice when adding the cashew milk.

  • Kala Namak has a sulfuric taste, reminiscent of hard-boiled eggs but is mostly used to add umami taste. Use some anchovies or Thai fish sauce instead.

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs

  • 100g cashews, lightly roasted

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced

  • 1 large ripe tomato, diced

  • 1 small chili pepper, thinly sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 cm ginger, minced

  • seeds from one pod of black cardamom

  • 1 tsp coriander

  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds

  • 1 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)

  • 1/2 tsp powdered kala namak (black salt) 

  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

  • 1 long pepper

  • a small piece of nutmeg

  • 1 cm cinamon

  • Butter or coconut oil

  • Atlantic sea salt

  • Cilantro for garnish

 

Preparation:

  1. Cook the chicken thighs sous-vide for 90 minutes at 60°C. Cool in an ice bath, drain and reserve any liquids from the cooking pouch. If you don't have a sous-vide setup - no harm, just fry the chicken for 10 minutes longer before combining with the curry.

  2. Combine half of the cumin, coriander, fennel, fenugreek, cinamon and nutmeg in a frying pan and roast until a nice odor rises from the pan. Remove and ground to a powdered masala.

  3. Combine the ginger and garlic into a ginger-garlic paste and fry in the oil or butter for a minute or so, until the pungent odor is gone.

  4. Add the onion and leek and sauté until the onion becomes translucent.

  5. Add the chili pepper, tomato and half of the masala, along with the kala namak and amchoor and a pinch of sea salt and sauté until the tomato pieces become tender. Remove from the pan.

  6. Turn up the heat to maxium and sear the chicken thighs. If not pre-cooked sous-vide, cook for 10 minutes or so, otherwise just until the outside becomes golden-brown. Remove from the pan, allow to cool down and dice.

  7. Combine the cashews with 100g water and process to milk in a heavy-duty blender or food processor (I use a Vitamix). 

  8. Return the curry to the pan, turn on medium heat and add the cashew milk. Stir constantly (the milk sticks to the bottom of the pan otherwise), then add the chicken dices and allow them to warm up. 

  9. Add next to steamed basmati rice, garnished with fresh cilantro.

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