Wednesday, May 30, 2007

a dish sure to please

myriad versions of chicken curry exist, each having their own distinct flavours depending upon from which country the recipes hail. some of my favourite kinds are the thai and malaysian types which use more unusual ingredients, at least in NA standards, like kefir lime leaves, basil and lemon grass.

the following is a very basic indian type curry and the first of several curry dishes i will add over time. a staple dish in my home, this understatedly simple chicken curry is fantastic and takes little time to make — especially if you've spent a few minutes to get everything ready beforehand. it freezes well and is good for a few days in the refrigerator where it improves the longer it sits. often, i'll measure out all the ingredients and prepare the chicken the day before i cook, making cooking a less arduous task the day of.

you can make this curry in two ways, each having its own character. you can try this plain, as is, with its very flavourful sauce or you can add coconut milk and have a much richer sauce. sometimes, if i am making this to serve to guests, i'll take half out and add coconut milk to the other half and have two versions.

both ways are sure to please.

chicken curry in a hurry


4 good sized whole chicken legs, cut into drumsticks and thighs or,
8 thighs or 8 drumsticks
(don't use boneless chicken, much of the flavour comes from the bones)

3 tbsp vegetable oil

2 large onions, minced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger

1 tbsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/3 c water

1 large tomato
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 c water

1 c regular or thick coconut milk (cream), opt.

3 pods of green cardamom
2 inch piece cinnamon*

*there are 2 kinds of cinnamon: here i use cassia, the asian variety, which is more like tree bark (see photo below). you can use the quill (rolled) type if this is not available to you or already ground cinnamon. cassia can be found in indian stores under the name dalchini or in asian shops.


remove skin from chicken. the dish will not be good if you keep it on as there will be too much fat.

chop the onion and mince the garlic and ginger. chop the tomato and set aside for later.

measure out the cumin, chili powder and turmeric in a small bowl. add the 1/3 c of water and make a slurry or paste. set aside.

heat the oil on medium low heat add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 15 to 25 minutes until it caramelizes/browns in a dutch oven or heavy pot. the colour should be golden brown and not black. if the heat is too high lower it. the long cooking time is tedious but necessary for the success of the curry. stir often. you may want to add a 1/2 tbsp of sugar half way through to help the onions brown.

once browned, stir the spice slurry and add it to the onions. cook over medium heat until the water is almost fully gone.

add the chicken pieces and coat them well with the onion mixture.

add the chopped tomato and the salt and pepper and cover the pot (you don't need to mix right now). cook this on medium heat for 15 minutes. don't peek!

after 15 minutes, remove the lid and stir everything well. add the 2 1/2 cups of water and cover the pot.

cook, covered for 40 minutes, over medium low heat.

while the chicken is cooking, grind the whole cardamom pods and cinnamon until it is powdered. set aside for later. you can use equal amounts of powdered cardamom and cinnamon (a little less than 1/2 tsp each) but it is not the same as using the whole spices.

after 40 minutes, remove the lid and place the chicken pieces on a plate and put aside.

stir the curry sauce well. if the sauce is thick already, skip this step. if not, turn the heat up to high and boil the sauce until it thickens to your liking. stir while it is boiling. it may take up to 10 minutes, depending on how much liquid there is. if using coconut milk, boil the sauce a little thicker as you will be adding coconut liquid afterwards. now lower the heat to medium low and proceed.

once thickened, you can add 1 cup of coconut cream or milk, or just keep it as is (just as delicious!). add the cardamom and cinnamon mixture and stir.

put the chicken back in the sauce and stir. let the chicken cook in the sauce for 10 - 15 minutes on low heat, covered.

serve over rice and enjoy!
it's even better the next day.


Anonymous said...

This looks fabulous! :)
Love your pics!

Beenzzz said...

I haven't had chicken curry in a while. You've inspired me to make it!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Oh my! That looks incredible! Just came across your blog and I am loving it. Hope you do not mind if I kinda hang out here every now and then ;-)

Richa said...

the mix of spices that u've used work well with vegetables as well :)
great pics, but then that's always expected from u :)
may i please know what grinder you have used there, if u don't mind? it sure seems perfect for grinding small quantities of spices, i never seem to be able to get a fine powder :(
Thank You!

burekaboy — said...

maninas - thanks :) hadn't had it in a while so it was even better ;p

beenzzz - same here; was several months back since i made it. hope you enjoy yours :D

hi meeta - welcome and thanks for the nice compliments. feel free to visit as often as you like :DD thanks for your comment and looking forward to "seeing" you in the future.

hey richa - haven't tried this with vegetables yet; i'm sure it'd be great, too. the spicing for this curry is extremely simple but as you say, they work well -- and we all know sometimes the simpler something is, the better it is! :D

as for the grinder, i found it online for you :) don't pay more than 9 or 10$ for it -- i've seen it at a bunch of places for up to 22$!! it is a very basic (coffee) grinder that works EXTREMELY well for grinding up spices. [i even grind whole pieces of hing in it to a fine powder with no damage.] if you grind small amounts of spices, the trick is to shake the grinder while you're grinding and keep doing it, checking every once in a while. works all the time, and if/when the grinder eventually breaks (i've had mine for a long time), no big deal .... it only cost about 10 dollars.

Ruth Daniels said...

I love your posts. They're always so instructive with gorgeous photos and delicious recipes. Who could ask for more?

Richa said...

OMG! you are such a sweetheart! Thank You! Thank You! for the link, will be ordering my grinder NOW :) It is normal for me to get overtly happy over kitchen appliances & dishes, but do not be checking my pantry, it is full to the brim :)
Thank You once again!

Jihan said...

this is very different from how I make mine... well not really really different. You just minus the ginger, tomatoes, peppers, onions, coconut milk... lol and add some potatoes...
This is one of my main meal...

burekaboy — said...

hi ruth - hope the move went well and you're all settled ;p thanks for the very nice compliments and dropping by. much appreciated :D

richa - glad i could help. hope to hear how it performs once you get it!! :)) it's a fun toy that i use often. you can even grind small amounts of fresh chilies, ginger and garlic in it and the cord fits neatly hidden underneath the unit. and LOL, u can't even get into my pantry without something falling on your foot! i'm still a sucker for kitchen appliances and gadgets though.

PJ - u make me laugh :D if u kept taking things outta my recipe i'd be left with raw chicken!! LOL. never had it with potatoes. sounds good.

Chanita Harel חני הראל said...

תודה רבה על הרעיון, העוף הבא, של סוף השבוע יהיה דומה לשלך. דומה ..כי שלך בטוח יותר טעים
מסכינה גם עם כל מילה של רות דניאלס

burekaboy — said...

hi chanit - b'vakashah ... lo yode'ah ha'im yiyeh yoter ta'im mi'mah sh'heychanti! tzarich levaker etzlech l'daat ha'im zeh nachon :D [o t'vo'i etzli!] todah al kol ha tgu'vot ha'ne'imot.

Anonymous said...

there are millions of chicken curry recipes.but from now on i'll stick to this one.a very indian type curry mix of spices.easy yet delicious.adding coconut cream was great.this recipe reminds me-well, a little bit-of alabaster chicken, by cooking author jennifer brennan.
no tenía cúrcuma, así que usé azafrán molido.mejor todavía, no crees?
espero ansiosa tu versión de la sopa mulligatawny!

burekaboy — said...

sari - glad you liked it. it's my favourite of all the ones i've tried so far -- simple but full of flavour ;)

never heard of alabaster chicken. sounds interesting. not sure if i know who jennifer brennan is!

no turmeric?!? A SERIOUS CRIME! LOL. {i think i hear the police arriving :o }

tengo un bueno de mulligatawny -- pero no tengo tiempo poner en este blog todo lo que quiero!!!