There is a reason I call it the everyday curry. Every family has its own recipe and in Indian homes, normally chicken is cooked with spices and a tomato/yogurt/coconut base to make a curry. It is not everyday that we cook or eat curries doused in cupfuls of cream or dyed in food coloring or mellowed down with loads of sugar.
Even if you have bare minimum spices in your rack, you can still turn chicken into this gratifying curry. Utterly delicious and redolent with spices, it is what I cooked for P almost four years back for the first time and he admitted that he could eat hundred rotis (flatbreads) with it.
Though I have been cooking it religiously every week since then, I still try to tweak it. Sometimes I make it more yellowish in color as he likes it, at times I double up the whole spices to spike it up and many times I have mixed in thick coconut milk for a luxurious flavor.Give or take, my husband will polish it off.
That, I guess is the versatile nature of curry, add or skip ingredients at your free will, keep on tasting all the while and in the process develop your own kind – soupy, saucy, spicy, sweet. Curry can mean different to different people, for P its that deep flavored gravy he looks forward to, for mom, it’s the bite of coarse ground spices in the masala, for dad, it needs to be way soupy than the usual.When I make chicken curry for P’s friends it’s the creamy- sweetish kind that they like.
For me, each time I cook and sit down to eat, it’s as if I have plated memories.
However, it disappoints me when I see how the enormous popularity of curry has in fact done it a disfavor. Not only in terms of ingredients but also regards to the effort involved, people find making curry a daunting task and resort to shortcuts, when in real, there aren’t any. I always presume that a good curry needs time and patience. If you are short on any, then probably it’s not your cup of tea.
I posted a picture on facebook and instagram feed few weeks back and many of you asked for the recipe. Since then, I have made Papa’s recipe thrice.With the kind of slow cooking involved, the recipe works best with bone in – dark chicken meat – thighs or drumsticks. Even if you decide to go boneless, opt for dark meat.That said, you can put your slow cooker to good use here.
Printable Recipe ( Serves 2-3)
- 1.25 lb bone-in chicken, dark meat,de skinned (I used 4-5 drum sticks)
- 4 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with olive/sunflower/vegetable oil )
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup thin sliced red onions
- 2 medium Roma tomatoes, roughly diced
- 3 tbsp plain yogurt
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1″ fresh ginger shoot
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- Up to 1 cup water (depending on the consistency of gravy you want)
- Chopped Cilantro for garnish
Spices for Marinade
- 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
- 3/4 tsp black peppercorns
- 3 cloves
- 2 whole green cardamom
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeeds
- twig of mace
- 1″ cinnamon stick
- 5 whole dry red chillies (adjust to tolerance)
- 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (this lends curry the beautiful red color, not the heat, see notes)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup water
- In the spices for marinade above, you can substitute whole seeds with lightly dry roasted coriander, black pepper and cardamom powder.
- If you do not get Kashmiri chili powder, use paprika in its place. But add a little bit of cayenne for slight heat.
Wash the chicken pieces thoroughly & pat dry using a paper towel.Set aside.
In a small sauce pan, on low heat,dry roast all the whole spices for marinade [except turmeric, kashmiri chilli powder & salt] till you smell the aroma.About 3-4 minutes.Let the roasted spices cool down a bit.Once cooled, tip into your coffee grinder or using mortar & pestle,grind the spices. You don’t want them to be powdery. Add turmeric, kashmiri chilli & salt to the ground spices. Mix this with 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl to make the marinade.
In a Ziploc bag or a bowl, place the cleaned chicken along with the marinade and rub a little so that all the pieces are covered in the marinade. Set aside for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator to marinate.
Take out the marinated chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. Once ready to cook, heat up oil in a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat.Once the oil is just smoking, lower the heat & add the chopped onions to the pot.Add the bay leaf too. Cook the onions till golden brown. About 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, yogurt, garlic, ginger to your food processor and pulse to a smooth mixture. Once the onions have browned, reduce the flame to low and add the tomato-yogurt mix to the pot, stir to combine well with onions. Also add the 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. Cook on low-medium heat with constant stirring to avoid curdling of the yogurt. Initially, you will see yogurt releasing water, but that’s okay. Increase the heat to medium and keep on stirring till you see oil separating on the sides of the pot.
Add the marinated chicken to the pot next. Add salt to taste. Keep on stirring around the chicken pieces so that they do not stick to the bottom of the pan. They will slowly start releasing their juices. Keep on turning around and cooking the chicken pieces on medium heat for good 20-25 minutes or till they are 95% cooked. Add water to the pot now depending on the desired consistency of the gravy, check the salt again, cover the pot with a lid and cook the curry for another 10 minutes or so till the chicken is completely cooked.You will need to stir in between once or twice.
Once the curry is cooked, remove from heat and let sit covered for at least 45 min – 1 hour before serving.
Garnish with cilantro & serve warm. Whether you serve with flatbread or rice, I highly recommend making kachumber (indian salsa) alongside. Yum!
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!