Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Everyday Chicken Curry

Everyday Chicken Curry,Sinfully Spicy

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.

Everyday Chicken Curry,Sinfully Spicy

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.

Everyday Chicken Curry, Sinfully Spicy

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.

Everyday Chicken Curry,Sinfully Spicy

Ingredients 

  • 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)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup water

Notes : In the spices for marinade above, you can substitute whole seeds with lightly dry roasted coriander, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, cardamom powder.

Method

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 salsaalongside.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

How To · Indian Curry/Stew · Lentils

Mangodi – Sun dried Lentil Nuggets

SinfullySpicy - Mangodi (Sun Dried Lentil Nuggets)I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen this week. I baked a cake after two years, cooked dum biryani for the first time, sprouted whole red lentils and I made mangodis.

For last few years I wanted to make mangodis .Where I live has the perfect sun for making these – crisp, dry heat. But, each year the summers passed by and I just sat on the idea. There is a particular variety I like from back home, mom sent me the quota with whoever was coming here. I survived.

This year, I ran out of my stock earlier than usual. With summers still far from over in my part of the world its a good excuse to make my own, right?

SinfullySpicy -Ingredients Mangodi (Sun Dried Lentil Nuggets)

In my home, we make a soupy curry with mangodi and potatoes. It is then served with dal tadka (tempered lentils) and rice. I never really cared for these growing up. In fact, I did not understand why would any one want to turn lentil into a curry and then eat it with lentils again. Confusing.

Logics aside, I think my palate was not ready was for it then. Now, when I think of traditional home cooked food, mangodi-aloo definitely comes to mind.

Mangodi , Moongbadi or Mungwadi are small,spicy lentil nuggets which are sun-dried in indian households during summer months. Variety of lentils ( yellow, red, split green or urad ) can be used to prepare these. Depending on the region of India, they could differ in texture and taste. The lentil batter is like your blank canvas – keep it plain, add your own choice of dried herbs or spices, some people add garlic and ginger too. Mangodis are inedible on their own but once lightly sautéed in a teaspoon of oil, they can be used in curries or combined with different vegetables & leafy greens to make stir fries. Crush the shallow fried ones between palms and add as a topping on salads. Other than that, they can be soaked in warm water for few minutes and then added to your vegetarian soups, stews or rice pilaf.

SinfullySpicy - Mangodi 02 (Sun Dried Lentil Nuggets)

Ingredients  (Makes little more than 2 cups of mangodis)

  • 1.5 cups split yellow mung lentils
  • 4 cups of water to soak the lentil
  • 3/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, crushed
  • Oil to grease

Also Needed – Plates/thalis/cookie sheets/ plastic sheets- Any one of these to sun dry the nuggets.

Note – I use unpolished, organic yellow mung lentils from Whole foods, so I added turmeric powder for a nice yellow tinge. Turmeric does not add any flavor to the mangodis. The turmeric quantity in this recipe can be varied as per you lentil quality.

Method 

In a large bowl, thoroughly wash the lentils 2-3 times till the water runs clear. Soak the lentils in about 4 cups of water preferably overnight or for at least 4 hours.

Grease the plates or thalis with oil where you want to drop the lentil nuggets.Set aside.

Drain the water, give lentils another wash and tip them into a blender. Blend the lentils to smooth without water.

Transfer the ground lentils to bowl and add hing, black pepper and turmeric powder to it. Mix well.

Put the lentil mix in a piping bag fitted with plain/star nozzle, or a Ziploc bag (with cut out corner), squeeze it and pipe out small dots on a greased plate/ thali, about 1/8 inches apart. For the quantity of batter from this recipe, I used 6 dinner plates.

Keep the piped out mangodis in sun for at least 2 days or more till they dry out.

Once dry, these will be hard. Using a metal spatula, scrape them from the surface of the plate and store in an air tight container up to 8-10 months.

Make mangodi- aloo masala curry.

Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!

Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew

Fish Curry

Spicy Fish curry01, Sinfully Spicy

While he walked down the road, we ran like hooligans to reach the market. It was well past 6 pm and the catch of the day would be sold out in an hour or so, papa told us before leaving home.The earlier your reach the shop, the robust the choice. Making our way through narrow streets, lot of traffic and chaotic roads, you could not help but inhale the stench fishy smell which filled the shop, once you reach. There sat the machali vala (fish vendor),his forehead lit up by the hanging bulb, wearing a yellowish vest, sweat drops glistening on his cheeks, arduously handling the bargains with adamant customers. On his left lay piles of fresh fish to choose from and on the right were hand-held metal scales to weigh.

Papa would choose rohu (green carp),one of the most loved fresh water fish in my family. He had his own ways as to check if it was fresh and that took time. Meanwhile, we gulped down  glassfuls of sugarcane juice or nimbu pani, playing outside.

Spicy Fish curry02, Sinfully Spicy

The vendor would throw the fish towards them, shouting ‘ chotey,jaldi se tayyar kar de‘ , asking his boys sitting behind the curtains to quickly clean up and cut papa‘s fish selection.Since majority of the population flocking the market were vegetarian Hindus, butchering fish or meat in open wasn’t a pleasant sight for them.

In my grandma’s home, the utensils for cooking non vegetarian food were separate from the rest of the kitchenware. They still are. I clearly remember the grey and dark blue stained tamchini (enamel ware) which is used to (again) clean up and wash the fish at home, not in the kitchen sink but outside in the yard. ‘Thoda besan aur haldi jaroor laga dena‘, mom reminded every time to massage the fish pieces with turmeric & chickpea flour after washing, while she sauted masala in the kitchen.

Well past 9 pm,the noises in the houses settled, everyone devoted their energy to eating fish curry, taking their time to separate the bones, sniffing the hints of aroma from kasuri methi in the gravy, mixing it up with steamed rice – comforting & delicious.

Dried Fenugreek leaves, Spicy Fish curry, Sinfully Spicy

When I came to States, I did not eat fish for a couple of years, the idea of fillets simply did not appeal to me. Even though I m better now, but still fillets feel like eating potatoes. It was only a year ago that I spotted an oriental market which sells fish steaks that I started making those nostalgic curries again.

The only two things fancy about this fish curry are that its cooked in pure mustard oil and the liberal use of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) in the masala. Both lend the curry a deep, rich aroma and make it taste tangibly authentic.

Before we hop on to the recipe, let me highlight that kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) is an aromatic herb used to flavor a lot of north indian curries and marinades. It is what makes those tandoori & butter chickens taste the way they do. Pleasantly bitter, strong-tasting but addictive, it is a great herb to add to your spice rubs, sauces and gravies. Available for a couple of dollars both online as well as at all indian stores, it has a long shelf life (more than a year or so). Trust me you REALLY need it in your pantry!

Ingredients

  • 3- 4 fish steaks (I used Tilapia steaks ,select any mild, white fish of choice)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 tbsp pure mustard oil (substitute with cooking olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 3/4 cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, finely chopped (yield about 1 cup)
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • 1.5 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mango powder (amchoor, substitute with lemon juice to taste)
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/4 cup of water (this depends on how watery your fish is and the desired consistency of the curry, adjust amount accordingly)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Method

Rub the fish steaks with 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

When ready to make the curry, take out the fish from the fridge and let sit at room temperature.

In a heavy bottomed pan, add the oil and heat on high up till you see ripples on the surface.If using mustard oil, you will need to heat it till its smoking to do away the raw smell.Reduce heat to medium.Add the finely chopped onion and cook them till golden brown. About 6-8 minutes.Next, add minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes till you start smelling the aroma.

Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes and grated ginger  next along with chilli, coriander, and turmeric powder. Cook this masala on low heat till the oil starts separating from the mix along the sides of the pan. About 10-12 minutes. Cook thoroughly to reduce water. This slow cooking is very important to develop flavors and color of the paste, please do not rush. Allow the masala to reduce till it acquires beautiful reddish to brown color.

Add the marinated fish steaks next to the along with kasuri methi & dry mango powder. Also add salt to taste. Stir around gently so that the fish steaks are coated in the masala. Cover the pan and let the fish cook on low for 5 -8 minutes. This cooking time will depend on the variety, cut and thickness of steaks. Adjust accordingly. When the fish is just about done, add the water and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes

Once the fish is cooked through, let the curry sit covered for at least 30-40 minutes, undisturbed.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with steamed basmati rice. (You can warm the curry before serving)

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!