Indian-Spiced Chicken with Asparagus

Adapted from Eating Well (March/April 2011)

This weeknight dish is terrific because it introduces powerful flavors without being spicy or overwhelming. It’s also easy to separate the parts for the picky eaters. I served this dish alongside brown rice.>

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (see tips)
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small red chile, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • In a dry saute pan over medium heat, toast the cumin and fennel seeds until fragrant and lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and grind with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
  • Combine chicken in a bowl with 1-1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss to coat.
  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high. Brown the chicken on all sides, then remove it from the pan. The chicken will not be cooked through, but don’t worry about that. It will finish cooking later. Just make sure it’s nicely browned on the outside. Place the chicken on a plate and set aside.
  • In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chile and ginger, cooking until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and the remaining spice mixture. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for another minute or two. Add the coconut milk and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. After another minute or two, add the chicken back to the skillet and allow to simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Serve over rice and top with chopped cilantro.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. I used what I had on hand – anise seeds. These look very similar to fennel seeds, but they are not the same. I consulted Food52’s “foodpickle” with this question and was told: “Fennel seeds are larger and coarser in texture with a woody, anise flavor. Anise seeds are smaller, with a slightly sweeter, more delicate fragrance.” If you don’t have cumin or fennel seeds on hand and don’t want to invest in a full bottle, you could use pre-ground spices and toast them carefully in a warm pan. Just be sure to keep an eye on them as not to burn them.
  • 2. This would also be delicious with green beans.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

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