Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Eating Well magazine shared the link to this recipe on their Facebook page. I clicked through to their website and saw that it’s from their current March/April issue which was sitting on our coffee table. Hmm, what else did I miss in there?

What I almost missed was a really delicious meal. I rarely cook with fennel seeds, but I’m moving them from the satellite spice area to the main cupboard and keeping an eye out for more Indian recipes that use them. We loved the flavor of this dish – fennel seed, cumin, onion, garlic, ginger, coconut — and we got our protein and vegetables all in one big serving. It came together quickly, 40 minutes per Eating Well, that might be about right, plus a little more time for the brown rice which takes longer than regular rice.

If you don’t have cumin seeds (I didn’t, going on the list, Penzey’s!), use ground cumin instead. I’m not sure what you could substitute for the fennel seeds; they really add an essential flavor. I added half a red bell pepper to the pan with the onions – I liked the punch of red sweetness it gave to the dish. I used only one Serrano pepper and the dish wasn’t really spicy hot, so if you are a heat lover, you may want to add more chile pepper.

I served this with brown basmati rice. I sautéed some onion and garlic in the pan before adding the rice and liquid to it. Since the chicken only called for ½ cup of light coconut milk, I had one cup leftover in the can. I decided to use half water, half coconut milk for the rice. The rice needed longer to absorb the liquid and was softer than usual, but, oh, what flavor.

chicken asparagus indian spiced recipe healthy light

Fennel seeds (photo by Sanjay Acharya, Wikimedia Commons)

Indian-Spiced Chicken and Asparagus

You’ll need a small skillet, large skillet and a saucepot with lid for the rice.

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 pound chicken tenders or boneless, skinless breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small fresh chile, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup “lite” coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Toast cumin and fennel seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Finely grind in a spice grinder (such as a clean coffee grinder) or with a mortar and pestle.

Toss chicken with 1-1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, red bell pepper, garlic, chile and ginger; cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add asparagus, sprinkle with the remaining spice mixture and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer for 2 minutes more. Return the chicken and any accumulated juice to the pan and cook until the chicken is just cooked through and the asparagus is tender-crisp, about 2 minutes more. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

Serve with brown (or regular) basmati rice, prepared per package instructions. Or, sauté chopped onion and then garlic in the pot before adding the rice, water and leftover coconut milk.

Original recipe: Indian-Spiced Chicken & Asparagus, Eating Well, March/April 2011

3 thoughts on “Indian-Spiced Chicken and Asparagus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: