Apr 10, 2010

My Comfort Food - Chicken Curry

We may explore and experiment in our kitchen with food from different regions, but sometimes we crave for the comfort food that we ate while growing up and the food that our mom made for us for years. What spaghetti with tomato sauce is to an Italian, what a juicy burger is to an American, chicken curry is to me - its the ultimate Indian comfort food. But my version of chicken curry is a simpler version of what my mom used to make. Instead of making ginger/garlic paste I put chopped ginger-garlic. I don't even bother to caramelize onion before adding ginger-garlic paste. Caramelizing a big onion just takes too much time.

This chicken curry calls for a lot of ground spices. But all these spices are very common in Indian cooking. Once you have these ready, you can pull off almost any curry you want. All these spices are available off the shelf in Indian groceries and now a days in many super markets. But just in case you want to make them from scratch, you can easily do so by buying the seeds and using that magic tool - the coffee grinder. If you have leftover seeds then don't despair you can always use them directly in Indian curries.

Turmeric powder - its difficult to buy whole turmeric so you are better of buying this from a store.
Cumin powder - dry roast the cumin seeds and make the powder using a coffee grinder. If you are not scared of chili, you can roast a couple of red chilis with the cumin seed. Red chili adds little spiciness to the smoked cumin powder.
Coriander powder - dry roast the coriander seeds and let them cool for a while. Then grind them using coffee grinder.
Garam masala -  this is a combination of cardamom, cinnamon, clove. Dry roast all of them and grind them to make a coarse powder.

Indian Chicken Curry Recipe

1 TBS oil  (I use olive oil)
1/4 tsp sugar

1 bay leaf
Whole garam masala (cardamoms, cinnamon stick, cloves)

1 TBS finely chopped ginger and garlic
1 medium size onion
1 lb of boneless chicken thigh
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup red or green bell pepper

1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp pepper powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp maggi tomato chili sauce (available in Indian stores, or you can substitute it with chili garlic paste)
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1 cup of water
1/2 cup chopped cilanto

In a heavy bottom pan, add oil. When oil gets a little hot, add sugar. Wait till the sugar gets caramelized. Be careful at this point, don't let the sugar burn. Otherwise, it will give a bitter taste to the curry. The caramelized sugar gives a nice color to the curry. You can omit this step if you want. Then add the bay leaf and whole garam masala to the pan. Then add onion, chopped ginger garlic and chicken and salt to the pan. Cover the pan with a lid. Salt will bring out water from the chicken and onion. Covering the pan with a lid will help the chicken to cook and get tender.

When the chicken gets a little tender or after 10 minutes remove the lid and cook it for another 10-15 minutes by stirring it once in couple of minutes till the onion and ginger-garlic get cooked and have a thick curry consistency. All the water that came out of the chicken should have been evaporated at this point.

Then add tomatoes, bell pepper, all the remaining spices and sauces to the chicken. Cook it for 5 minutes till the raw smells of the spices are gone and the vegetable becomes tender. Then add a cup of water and cook it on a medium flame for another 5-10 minutes. Cooking time varies depending on how thick/thin you want your curry. Stir it a couple of times so that the thick sauce won't stick to the pan. After the curry is done, stir in 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro. If you don't like cilantro, you can substitute cilantro with parsley.

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