Indian Food is my absolute favorite, but when I eat out I am never quite sure what is in the food. When I purchased my now very tattered copy of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon about eight years ago, I began experimenting with some of her Indian recipes and have since customized a few to my own liking. These recipes are not for the days you are looking to make a quick dinner. I prep this meal first thing in the morning, by soaking my rice and lentils and making my coconut milk, and then start cooking about 2 to 2 1/2 hours before dinner time. A time consuming meal, but with just Mr. Pretty Little Shopper and I this makes enough for two nights dinner and a couple of lunches as well.
What you will need:
For the Chicken Tikka Masala:
2 lbs. organic boneless chicken tenders cut into bite size pieces
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 to 2 cups coconut milk
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons finely grated ginger
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
For the Sauce:
6 ounces tomato paste (I used Bionaturae Organic Tomato Paste which comes in a jar)
1 to 2 cups coconut milk
28 ounces crushed tomatoes (I used Jovial Organic which comes in a jar)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
For the Dal (Lentils):
1 1/2 cups brown or green lentils (I used Timeless Organic French Style Lentils)
Warm filtered water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/3 teaspoon cayenne (add more or less depending on how spicy you want this dish)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic peeled and mashed
1/4 cup Ghee (I used Purity Farms Organic Ghee)
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 small hot red or green peppers seeded and chopped (use red ones for a spicy dish and green for less spicy. If you choose the red be sure to wear kitchen gloves when handling and be careful not to touch your face or inhale the seeds as these peppers will burn your skin).
1/3 cup cilantro chopped
sea salt to taste
1/2 cup coconut milk (add more or less depending on how creamy you want this dish)
For the Rice:
2 cups Basmati or Jasmine rice (I used Lundberg Organic California Brown Basmati Rice)
4 cups warm filtered water
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 to 4 tablespoons butter
For the Cabbage:
1 to 2 heads green or purple cabbage rinsed and shredded
Ghee or butter to taste
Sea Salt to taste
For the Coconut Milk:
1 bag (2 3/4 cups) unsweetened shredded coconut (I use Let’s Do Organic)
About 4 cups filtered water
Cheese cloth to strain
***Use organic ingredients when possible.
First things first. I rinse and soak my rice early in the day, about 7 hours before I want to cook it. I use 2 cups of filtered water for every one cup of rice and add a pinch of lemon juice to the water to make it easier to digest. Then I cover it with a lid and let it soak until just an hour before I am ready to cook it. If I am using larger lentils I soak them at this time as well. This time I used tiny French style (Beluga sized) lentils which don’t require soaking ahead of time because they are already so fine.
Okay… so you “can” use canned coconut milk, but I always make mine from scratch since I try to avoid canned foods as much as possible when I’m cooking at home. It’s actually pretty fast and easy to make if you’re not afraid of getting your hands dirty. You can view my recipe in a previous post here.
Now it’s time to get started on the chicken. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and dry the chicken and cut it into small bite size pieces (I use kitchen scissors for this rather than a knife). Then I mix all the spices and additional ingredients along with my coconut milk in a shallow pan. Finally it’s time to add the chicken making sure everything is well integrated. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes.
Once the chicken is in the oven it’s time to get started on the lentils and rice.
Rinse the lentils and place in a large saucepan. Add filtered water to cover and bring to a boil. Skim. Add turmeric, coriander, ginger, garam masala, cayenne, pepper and garlic. Simmer, covered for about an hour or until lentils are very soft.
Bring the pot of soaking rice to a boil and add desired amount of butter and sea salt. Bring it to a boil and skim. Reduce heat to low and cover. Let the rice simmer for 45 minutes until cooked through. I normally check mine half way through and occasionally add a little more water if the rice looks dry. When the rice is done cooking remove from heat and seal your Dutch Oven. Rice will remain warm until ready to serve.
Now it’s time to get started on the sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a large pot or Dutch Oven or large deep pan. Bring to a quick boil and then simmer for 20 minutes stirring often. Remove heat and cover the pot until the chicken is ready.
While the lentils are cooking saute’ the cumin seeds and chiles in the ghee until the chiles are soft. Set aside.
When the lentils are soft remove from heat and strain in a colander or skim to remove excess liquid. Do not rinse!!! And don’t over strain as you do want to keep this dish moist. Replace the lentils to the saucepan and beat with a wire whisk until lentils are creamy. Fold the chile-cumin seed mixture and chopped cilantro into lentils. Add coconut milk to your desired creaminess and season to taste. Replace lid on saucepan so your lentils stay hot until ready to serve.
Pre-heat your saucepan to medium heat and add your cabbage, ghee (or butter) and sea salt to taste. Let it cook for about ten to fifteen minutes. You can use a lid on your pan if you want the cabbage a bit softer and steamed. Plus it will keep the heat in once you are finished cooking it so you can keep it warm while you are finishing the other dishes.
Once the chicken has finished baking, carefully remove it from the oven and add it to the sauce mixture. Be sure to keep a careful eye (or ear) on your timer. I overcooked my chicken a little bit this time because I was so busy getting everything ready for the photos.
Stir the chicken into the sauce and let it simmer on low heat for an additional 20 minutes. Be sure not to bring the heat up to high or the sauce will splatter as you can see above.
This meal is entirely gluten-free, but I like to serve it with Naan and Mango Chutney when I am having guests. The Chutney is gluten-free and so yummy!
Please let me know what you think of the recipes and I’d love for you to share your favorite Indian recipes as well.
Chicken Tikka Masala recipe adapted from Mark’s Daily Apple.
Dal, Brown Rice and Cabbage recipes adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.
Coconut Milk recipe from Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell Mc-Bride.
Photos by Mo Summers.
Thank you so much for reading!