Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cheatin’ Chicken

Why Cheatin’ Chicken? Because it’s a decidedly simple curry recipe which yields surprisingly complex flavours. I remember the first time I made it seven years ago—Tastey Boy and I had just moved in together and we were still surrounded with packing boxes. Sick of ordering pizza for the umpteenth time, I fished out the one pot I had unpacked so far and came up with this curry with whatever meager ingredients I had on hand. I was certain it was going to be bland and blah, but the minute we mixed the light, broth-ey curry (jhol in Bengali) with rice, I knew I had a winner and an instant favourite. Hubby dubbed it Cheatin’ Chicken saying it could fool anybody, and it even passed muster with discerning chicken curry-obsessed gourmands like my sister!

6 tbsp Vegetable oil
2 large Onions, chopped
3-4 Bay Leaves
3 tbsp whole Cumin
2 Tomatoes, chopped
6-8 tsp Chilli powder (adjust to your taste)
2 tbsp crushed Garlic
4lbs [2 kgs] bone-in Chicken pieces with skin removed (combination of thigh, leg, and breast)
Salt (to taste)
½ cup plain Yogurt (whisked with 3½ cups water)
  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until smoking. Add onions, bay leaves and cumin, and fry until the onions are golden brown and well caramelized, about 8–10 mins.
  2. Add chopped tomatoes and stir well for 5 mins until they disintegrate into the onions. 
  3. Mix chilli powder in a little water to make into a paste and add to the pot. Stir briskly for about 5 mins and add garlic. Continue stirring, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pot, until the oil starts to separate from the spice mixture, about 5–7 mins. 
  4. Add chicken and stir well to coat the chicken pieces thoroughly in the spices. Continue stirring the chicken until it loses its raw, pink colour. Add salt and yogurt, stir and bring to a boil. Then lower heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 40–45 mins. Check the pot occasionally and stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. You know it is ready when all of the onions and tomato have amalgamated into the curry, and the oil separates into a glossy topcoat. Turn off heat and let sit for 10 mins before serving.

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