Chicken with Cumin-Scented Cashew Sauce

One spice does not have one flavor. It all depends on how the spice is used, as demonstrated in this recipe.

Cumin seed is used a couple of different ways here. It's sautéed in oil, and it's also dry-roasted in a skillet and then ground. In addition, chiles that have been blackened impart a wonderful pungency to the dish with a slight smokiness.

4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 serrano chiles
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped raw cashews*
1/2 cup water
1 medium red onion, halved, thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat small nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and chiles; cook 10 to 12 minutes or until garlic skins blacken and chiles blister and turn black, turning occasionally. Remove from pan; let stand 3 to 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Peel and discard charred garlic skins. Place garlic and chiles in food processor; process until finely minced.

2. In medium bowl, stir together garlic mixture, cream and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Add chicken breasts; turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

3. Meanwhile, place 1 teaspoon of the cumin seeds in dry heavy small skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 1 minute or until seeds turn reddish brown and become fragrant, shaking pan occasionally or stirring with spoon. Cool; finely grind with mortar and pestle or in spice grinder.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add cashews; cook 2 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. In blender, combine cashews, water, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and roasted ground cumin; blend until smooth.

5. In same medium skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon cumin seeds; cook 10 to 15 seconds or until fragrant. Add onion; cook 3 to 5 minutes or until onion turns light brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato; cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes or just until warm. Stir in cilantro.

6. Heat broiler; lightly spray broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Broil chicken breasts 4 to 6 inches from heat 8 to 12 minutes or until juices run clear, turning once.

7. Transfer chicken to serving platter. Spoon cashew sauce over chicken; top with tomato-onion mixture.

TIP *If raw cashews are not available, use roasted cashews and omit cooking cashews in 1 tablespoon oil.

4 servings

PER SERVING: 380 calories, 23.5 g total fat (6.5 g saturated fat), 30.5 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 85 mg cholesterol, 950 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

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