Rush Hour Gourmet

Posted: September 06, 2007

If you enjoy Indian cuisine but have been intimidated by the number and complexity of ingredients, you will appreciate the straightforward approach and easy recipes in Neeta Saluja's book Six Spices: A Simple Concept of Indian Cooking (Jones Books, $24.95).

In this introduction to Indian cooking and its world of exotic spices, Saluja focuses on the fundamentals of the cuisine.

Start with this quick and easy chicken curry.

Chicken in Peanut Sauce

(Makes 6 to 8 servings)

2 teaspoons coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

3/4 cup water, divided

4 tablespoons oil

1 large onion, chopped fine

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/4 cup crushed roasted peanuts

1. In a small bowl, mix the coriander, turmeric and chili powders with 1/4 cup of the water to make a paste; set aside.

2. In a nonstick frying pan, heat the oil hot. Saute the onion until soft and translucent. Add the spice paste. On medium heat, add 1/4 cup more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well.

3. Add the chicken, stirring to coat all evenly with the spices. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the salt. Cook 5 minutes more, stirring often.

4. Stir in the lemon juice and remaining water. Add the brown sugar and peanuts. Cook until chicken is done and sauce is desired consistency, about 5 minutes more. Serve hot with boiled rice or chapati (Indian flatbread).

Per serving (based on 8): 224 calories, 25 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams sugar, 12 grams fat, 80 milligrams cholesterol, 395 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

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