Another Great Shortcut Meal
Another “shortcut meal” I pulled together this week was prepared by sautéing some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in olive oil and butter and finishing in a commercial sauce I found at Whole Foods.
The Tikka Masala Sauce is from Maya Kaimal’s line of products. She is an expert on Indian food and has appeared on Martha Stewart, the Food Network and the Today Show, and writes about Indian cooking for “Saveur” and “Food & Wine“.
I love Indian food but I don’t have much experience making it at home. I do know you use a lot of spices I don’t usually keep in the house and how important these spices are to create the exquisite flavor.
Tikka Masala sauce is a classic creamy tomato-based curry, mildly spiced with cinnamon, cardamom and clove. It’s great on chicken but works well with fish or vegetables. I remember reading about Maya Kaimal’s products in one of my cooking magazines that gave it rave reviews so I had to try it.
Now that I found this product at Whole Foods, it will become one of my favorite “shortcuts”. Also at Whole Foods, I also came across some Mediterranean couscous that I served with the chicken in Tikka Masala sauce.
I have never cooked Mediterranean couscous before and thought it was the same as the precooked 5-minute couscous I’ve prepared by just adding water and letting it sit covered for a few minutes.
I tried this with the Mediterranean couscous and it didn’t work the same way. It needed to be steamed like rice. So I threw it into the rice steamer that I gave my wife for Christmas at a ratio of 1 ¼ cups water to 1 cup of couscous.
BTW, did you know that couscous is granular semolina or durum wheat that is ground more coarsely than typical wheat flour and used to make pasta and gnocchi? The semolina is mixed with a little water and rolled into the little round grains of couscous. Most people think it is a grain and not a form of pasta. It can also be made from barley or corn but semolina is the most common form.
The instant 5-minute couscous that you can buy in the supermarket is easy to prepare and works fine in a lot of recipes, but you may want to try the real thing some time.
So for this shortcut meal, the sauce is the real shortcut while you still have to cook the chicken breasts, prepare the couscous and prepare a vegetable as a side dish. I sautéed some spinach in garlic and oil, one of my favorite sides.
To learn how to sauté chicken breasts, click here, but if you are already comfortable sautéing, cook the breasts in some butter and olive oil until lightly brown. This should take about three minutes per side depending on how hot your stovetop burns, the quality of your cookware and your technique.
After the breasts are cooked, remove one for the kids if they don’t like spicy food and pour the Tikka Masala sauce into the pan to heat up with the chicken. That’s it. Serve it with rice, couscous, pasta, noodles or some other starch and a side vegetable.
I put this together one night in 20 minutes so it is a great meal to serve during the week. If you want to learn more about how to cook Indian food, you may want to check out the cookbook, The Spice Is Right – Easy Indian Cooking For Today. This cookbook will show you how to make classic Indian meals, including great sauces you can prepare at home when you are not in a hurry.
This is a great example of taking a shortcut to prepare a quick and easy meal that still requires some prep and cooking. I find these types of products essential to take some of the pressure off during the week when time to cook is sometimes limited.
I love finding products like this to make life in the kitchen a little easier. If you have a favorite product that is top quality and has incredible flavor, please let me know and I will give it a try.