Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Masala Chicken with Mango

Masala Chicken with Mangoes from Food Therapy
Mangoes are a fruit favorite in my house.  We like them cubed, sliced, dried, and even green.  One of the best things about the mango is that there are so many varieties.  If you know anything about peaches and apples, then you'll know what I mean.  There are over 400 varieties alone of mango, and each one looks, tastes, and feels different.  You can probably take a guess and assume I have not tasted them all.  However, I've tried at least a few of the different types and each one has its own mango flavor, some more sour and some more sweet. Some are softer while others are harder.  And, some are more juicy than others.


At this time of year one of my favorite varieties is in the stores, the Ataulfo mango.  They look a little like a shriveled up, old grandfather to the fat greenish-red hued younger looking mango you typically think of.  This mango is oblong in shape, spotted, and typically wrinkled at the ends.  However, when you slice into one after peeling the skin, you'll find some of the softest, sweetest mango around. At least that is my opinion in my very limited tasting experience with the mango.  The flavor reminds me of honey and the fruit is not fibrous and stringy like some of its cousins (brothers, sisters, relatives...you know what I mean!).

Because I have two mango-loving boys in my house who have also developed a preference for this particular variety (I do blind taste-tests to see if they can tell the difference; family fun!), once they show up in our local stores I grab bagfuls at a time.  So, I'm sitting in my kitchen the other day and wondering how in the world I can use ALL of these mangoes and the chicken I've had sitting in the fridge for days. Catching a stomach bug on Sunday, which is typically my big cooking day, left the mangoes and the chicken getting older by the minute. Something had to be done.

Masala Chicken with Mangoes from Food Therapy
And, then I thought what would go better with chicken than these golden mangoes?  And, what would go better with chicken and mangoes than a sweet garam masala?  And, what would go better with the chicken, mango, and garam masala? Naan? Check!  Basmati Rice? Check!  Now we're cooking!

For the recipe I used dark meat chicken simply because that is what I had at home. I'm sure a chicken breast would be just as tasty.  I also used a garam masala mixture that I had at home.  Sampling with different varieties would be great as there are so many choices out there.  Go with what sounds good to you and will complement the flavor of the sweet mango.  After I chopped up my mango, I added about two tablespoons of brown sugar and let the mixture sit in the fridge while the chicken roasted in the oven for 30 minutes, allowing the sugar to seep into the mango flesh.  Adding the mango-sugar mixture during the last 15 minutes of cooking time allowed the mango to brown without burning, and the sugar created a nice caramelized coating on the top of the roasted chicken. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh cilantro at the end and add some of that sweet and hot mango to your rice...mmmm...lovely! I'm thinking this will be even better on the grill this summer.  Thinking ahead!
Masala Chicken with Mangoes from Food Therapy

For a print-friendly version of the recipe, click: https://sites.google.com/site/masalachickenmangoes/

Ingredients:
Four mangoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tablespoons of light brown sugar
1 to 2 pounds chicken, dark or white meat
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Directions:
In a large bowl, add olive oil and all of your spices.  Stir to combine the mixture, making a paste.
Mixing Chicken with the spice mixture

Add the chicken to the bowl and coat with the paste. Stir until your chicken pieces are covered in the spice marinade.  Let it sit, covered loosely for one hour to let the spices soak in.
Chef in the making...I can't keep him out of the kitchen!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a casserole dish (9x13) with cooking spray.  Place your chicken pieces into the dish and cover with foil.  Cook in oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add your cubed mango and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Mix to combine. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while the chicken is cooking.

After 30 minutes, remove foil from chicken and add your cubed mango, juices and all, over the top of the chicken.  Bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes until the chicken and mango are browned.
Blurry picture of chicken after mango has been added
Blurred again, but shows the chicken browned and juices bubbling. Done!

***Note: if you are using white meat with no bones, the cooking time will be slightly less.  Reduce the baking time for the chicken by 10 minutes in order to minimize the tendency for the meat to dry out.