Food and cooking as medicine is a big thing now. ‘Alternative’ medicine is in vogue and exercise as medicine is picking up steam. While I’m not jumping on the turmeric-will-cure-diabetes bandwagon, like duh, how you use your body and nourish your body influences your health. There is also something therapeutic and calming about chopping up vegetables while listening to music and then your favorite song you forgot was your favorite comes on.
Cooking and exercise take time. Time is a limited resource, especially during Residency. As a result, I try to make things that cook quickly, have ingredients with long and forgiving shelf-lives and do not require too much prep or cleanup. The oven is my best friend because while stuff is in there I can shower, catch up on notes, try to organize my life or, you know, sit down and have a glass of wine. This recipe checks all the boxes. It has a mix of potatoes and cauliflower to cut down on high glycemic-index side dishes and lean protein. It is gluten free and can be made at varying spice levels. AND it has TURMERIC so, it is totally cool right now.
For the chicken
1 3/4-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced (or 1tbs ginger paste)
4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 fresh green chili (serrano if you like it spicy or jalapeño if not), minced and plus minus on the seeds
1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon salt (a couple turns)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cayenne, or adjusted to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pinch of cloves (sounds weird but original recipe calls for garam masala and I didn’t have this so I looked up garam masala recipe and made my own makeshift with cloves and above spices)
2 pounds chicken thighs, I used bone in/skin on to avoid dry chicken (you can definitely get fancy and use a combination of chicken parts or whatever is on sale)
For the vegetables
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 pounds baby potatoes halved or quartered (you could use regular potatoes too but baby ones are easier to cut)
1 cauliflower cut into florets (you can use whatever here, I used tri-colored cauliflower steaks because that’s what I found already cut)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
You can start by combining ginger, garlic and pepper in a mortar and pestle into a paste. You don’t have to, and it will be fine. I did, because my mom got me one and there is something kinda therapeutic about pulverizing spices. Full disclosure though, I got tired and had a pretty chunky paste. Add paste (if you made it) to yogurt, salt, spices and sugar in a freezer bag, bowl or container. I love using freezer bags. Less cleanup, but less ideal for the environment unfortunately. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat evenly. Let marinate for however long you have. Don’t worry about being precise with the spices. Just shake some in the bag and it will probably be fine.
When you’re ready to cook the dish, heat your oven to 425°F. Line oven sheet with foil (less cleanup) and coat it with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add potatoes, cauliflower, salt, cumin and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss together with your hands until evenly coated.
Make some space for the chicken and place chicken thighs on the pan too. Roast in oven for 20 minutes, then toss the potato and cauliflower and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes until chicken and vegetables are cooked through.
You can garnish with herbs or yogurt if you are feeling fancy. You deserve it.