Dinner for Two: Skillet Chicken and Rice

26 Oct

Ever faced a conundrum where you need 2 chicken breasts for dinner and have a package of three chicken breasts? I have had more than my share of these nights when I have a package of three chicken breasts and only need to grill or bake two for our dinner. The third is usually saved for a salad or a soup except per chance I stumble upon a great dinner idea.

I recently purchased Monica Bhide’s latest cook book – Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen and have a running list of all its recipes that I have to try. Earlier this year, I also took a food writing course with Monica. She has been a great source of inspiration for me and was the final push I needed to start writing this blog.

The Sunday Night Skillet Chicken and Rice recipe from the book was one of the top recipes on my list. It so turned out that I recently found myself with one chicken breast in the fridge and had the ingenious idea to use that recipe to create a hearty meal for two. I scaled down Modern Spice’s recipe to feed two, and made only a few minor modifications. This is really a heartwarming meal with big, bold flavors and is easy enough to make on any night of the week.

Skillet Chicken and Rice Recipe
Recipe adapted for Modern Spice’s Sunday Night Skillet Chicken and Rice
Yields: 2 servings
Time: Active 20 minutes Inactive 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
1-inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
½ large red onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 green chili, seeded and diced (optional)
1 medium-large Roma tomato, diced
½ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander powder
Salt to taste
½ pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces (See note)
½ cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
1 cup + 2 tablespoons of water
Cilantro, chopped for garnish

Notes:

  • Depending on the size of the chicken breasts ½ pound is either one large chicken breast or 2 smaller ones. You can also use boneless skinless thighs.
  • This recipe is very easy to scale up. Just double all the ingredients and use 2 cups of water. Cooking times will vary very minimally.

Method:
1) In a 10-12 inch deep lidded skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Within 1-2 minutes when you get the aroma of these spices, add the onion, ginger paste and garlic paste. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, until the onions soften and change color. Add the green chili (if using it) and cook for 1 minute.
2) Add the tomatoes along with a pinch of salt and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and the oil separates from the side of the mixture. Adding a pinch of salt at this stage speeds up the process of breaking down the tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon or a potato masher to mash the tomatoes as they cook. Make sure you stir this mixture occasionally to ensure it does not stick to the skillet.
3) Add the chili powder, turmeric, coriander and salt to taste. Cook stirring constantly for another minute.
4) Add the chicken pieces and cook for 3-4 minutes, until all the pieces are white on the outside and almost cooked through.
5) Add the rice and water and bring to a rolling boil. Once is has reached a rolling boil, reduce the heat cover and cook for about 16-18 minutes on low heat, until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is fully cooked. The final dish will be barely moist.
6) Fluff the rice with a fork, garnish with cilantro and serve.

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