Chicken Breasts with Savory Strawberry Sauce

If pressed I would describe this dish as “Indian Fusion” because it combines flavors of the subcontinent with European techniques. The use of fruit in a savory sauce might strike some as unusual until they remembered that the most used sauce ingredient in the US, the tomato, is in fact a fruit. In Indian cuisine fruits like mango are a common ingredient. Indeed, the inspiration for my strawberry sauce was a recipe adapted from one for mangos. I made my sauce a bit spicy and tart but you can adjust the amount of chili and sugar to your taste. Incidentally, this is an excellent way to use up any strawberries that are a bit past their prime.

Serves 2 with extra sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons Canola or other neutral cooking oil
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon mustard seeds (preferably brown, but yellow will do)
  • ½ teaspoon kalonji (black cumin) seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste or grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon mirch powder or cayenne, to taste,
  • 1 or 2 fresh got green chilies, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • Madras curry powder
  • Cooking oil
  • Butter

Method

Wash, stem, and halve the strawberries. Set aside

Heat the oil in a heavy sauce pan over medium-high heat. When hot but not smoking add the cumin, fennel, mustard, and kalonji seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop add the ginger. Fry, stirring constantly until the ginger begins to change color. Stir in the fenugreek, mirch, turmeric, and sliced chilies. Finally add the strawberries, turn the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered until it is thick and the fruit has softened and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Stir in the sugar. Taste and adjust the amount of salt and sugar to your taste.

If the chicken breasts are thick pound them down a bit to an even thickness. Season with salt, pepper, and the curry powder. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a non-stick frying pan set over medium high heat. When the fat is nearly smoking add the chicken breasts and sauté until just done, about 8 minutes, turning once halfway through. Set the chicken aside and cover loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. Pour off any excess fat in the pan then add the strawberry mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Off heat stir in 1 tablespoon of butter then return the chicken the pan to warm through.

Serve hot with basmati rice and raita or other Indian accompaniment.

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