We started off the meal with small cups of squash and carrot soup topped with dollops of cumin yogurt (more on that later), then ate yogurt-marinated chicken masala with roasted cauliflower and steamed rice. Dessert, well, you know about dessert.
The chicken, from a recent Bon Appetit recipe, was the star of the meal. Chicken is notorious for being bland and dry, but when you marinate it for a few hours in yogurt (adding some cilantro and spices doesn't hurt either) the bird remains juicy and tender. One of the best parts of this recipe that the chicken cooks atop a bed of onions, which soak up all of the delicious juices. The onions may seem incidental, but they are a side dish by themselves.
Served up with some roasted cauliflower, steamed rice, and raita, this dinner felt like a feast but was so easy to throw together--like getting a compliment on an outfit you've worn for years. "Oh, this old thing?"
Sunday night Indian dinner
Butternut squash and carrot soup with cumin yogurt
Easy chicken masala
From Bon Appetit
(Serves 6 to 8 people)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. garam masala
2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1 large garlic clove, pressed
1 4- to 4 1/2-lb. roasting chicken, cut into 8 pieces, backbone removed
2 small onions, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Mix yogurt, chopped cilantro, olive oil, garam masala, salt, and garlic in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add chicken to marinade, 1 piece at a time, coating all sides. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Can be made 1 day in advance, keep refrigerated.) Position racks in top third and bottom third of oven; preheat to 400 degrees. Arrange onions in thin layer on large rimmed baking sheet to form bed for chicken. Top with chicken pieces in single layer, spacing apart for even roasting (chicken will still be coated with marinade). Discard remaining marinade. Roast chicken on top rack until cooked through and juices run clear when thickest portion of thigh is pierced with knife, about 1 hour. Serve chicken atop onion slices. Spoon pan juices around.