30 Days to a Food Revolution: Experiment with New Flavors

This post is part of a series called “30 Days to a Food Revolution” hosted by Diane Eblin over at The Whole Gang. You can check out my guest post, as well as other posts in the series, by following this link.

As you know, I keep a pretty tight food budget, so I limit the kinds of foods that I buy, and I get things in bulk when I can because it’s frequently cheaper.

What does this mean? I eat a lot of the same base ingredients (starches, protein, fruits and vegetables) all the time. I also have a number of food allergies, so that further limits my options. To make sure I don’t get sick of what I’m eating, I have to get creative.

The secret is in the flavor profile–I can use the same basic ingredients, but vary the flavors in such a way that I don’t feel like I’m eating the same thing two nights in a row! Not only do I switch up the salt, sweet, spicy and savory flavors, but I’ve recently started experimenting with new spices from a variety of cultures and regions (lately, I’m on an Indian kick)–smoked paprika, whole coriander, mustard seed, fennel seed…it’s amazing what you can do. Spices also help me add lots of deep flavor and richness without adding sugar or fat.

Note: I like to buy spices that are preservative free, like those here.

Here is a simple chicken recipe that is guaranteed to knock your socks off (and anyone you care to share your dinner with :)). I use garam masala, an Indian spice blend that includes pepper, coriander, cumin, cloves, anise; different blends will vary in flavor depending on their ingredients. I also deglaze the pan to make sure I get up all the flavorful bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Indian-Spiced Chicken Smothered in Onions

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, quartered and sliced
4 garlic cloves, cracked and peeled
2 Tbsp garam masala
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp ketchup
1/4 cup white wine or vegetable stock

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over high flame in a large skillet or dutch oven. Reduce heat to medium, add onions and saute until browned, 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 4-6 minutes more.
  2. Combine spices in a small bowl. Sprinkle over both sides of chicken, rubbing to adhere.
  3. Add chicken to pan and brown 1-2 minutes on each side. Combine wine or stock with ketchup and use to deglaze the pan, stirring all ingredients to combine, then cover and cook an additional 3-4 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Serve over steam basmati rice or quinoa with a side of steamed broccoli.

The cost:
onion: .45
garlic: .15
garam masala: 2.39
chicken: 10.99
rice/quinoa: 1.99
broccoli: 1.99

Grand total: $17.96; serves 4 ($4.49/person)

4 Responses to 30 Days to a Food Revolution: Experiment with New Flavors
  1. Domesticity Nouveau
    June 8, 2010 | 10:11 am

    I’m so happy I stumbled across your blog! I adore Penzey’s spice house, and was surprised when I discovered how it wasn’t that much more expensive than buying spices in bulk but the quality blew my mind away! I’m lucky enough to have a shop near me, so I can spend my time leisurely walking the aisles sniffing this and that… I feel the way about spices that some women must feel about shoes :)

  2. rellak
    June 8, 2010 | 11:16 am

    Thanks so much! I agree, I could spend hours just making a circuit smelling everything, and I was just as shocked at the unbelievable quality of everything I’ve bought.

  3. Alta
    June 8, 2010 | 11:25 am

    Yum! I love the aroma of Indian spices. I’m so glad to find your blog through Diane at The WHOLE Gang!

  4. Alison @ Hospitality Haven
    June 9, 2010 | 11:51 pm

    This sounds really yummy! I’m glad I found your blog.

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