I once had a fight with a stranger on a New Jersey Transit train because I insisted I wasn’t Punjabi, and he thought I must have been. “I am from Punjab and all of the ladies there look like you!” He yelled at me. Well, sorry. He was quite adamant that we converse in Punjabi, too, a language that I do not speak. And we were getting along in English just fine (well, maybe not getting along, but communicating.)!
I may not from the India or Pakistan, but I do love Indian food! You know I went through an Indian cooking phase last year, but I returned that awesome book to the library and kinda let those spices sit in my pantry for a while. Well, I still had some recipes I wanted to try, and so I decided to revisit these Indian roots.
So I know it’s not really traditional to eat Indian food for Shabbat, but the aromatics in this dish are so familiar and so similar to the Syrian flavors that I’m used to that it seemed natural to eat this for Friday night dinner. I even served naan instead of challah or pita for hamotzi.
Chicken with Apricots from How to Cook Indian
- about 2 1/2 lbs chicken (i used legs and thighs, but a whole cut up chicken also works)
- about 12 dried apricots
- 1 cup + 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- two 2-inch cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 2 medium onions, cut into fine half rings
- 3 teaspoons finely-grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2-3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper, set aside.
- Put the apricots in a small pan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes, leave in the cooking liquid.
- Pour the oil into a large pan (I used my handy-dandy Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Scatter the cinnamon sticks and cumin, wait ten seconds, then put in the chicken and brown on both sides (you may have to do the chicken in batches). Remove to a bowl.
- Add the onions, stir until they are brown at the edges. Add the ginger and stir, then add the tomato paste.
- Return the chicken and all of the drippings to the pot, along with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water and some salt. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat and cook for 15 more minutes, turning the chicken about halfway through.
- Remove the cover and add the sugar, vinegar, apricots in their liquid, garam masala and cayenne pepper. Stir gently and cook on high heat for about five more minutes, until the sauce is a bit syrupy.
- Serve hot with rice, naan or parathas.