Sunday, August 21, 2011

Everyday Chicken Curry

This is the everyday curry I grew up eating. It was made almost daily and is probably imprinted into my DNA. When I was very little and couldn’t tolerate as much heat, the curry was a golden yellow and made without any red chillis. As my cousins and I grew older, the amount of red chillis in the curry steadily went up, so that by the time I was in my teens, it was a fiery orange-red. But the colour is not the only hallmark of this recipe. In fact, in my mind, the chicken is secondary to the potatoes, which is more than worth fighting for. And the light, broth-ey curry is irresistible sopped up with warm, freshly made rice.

6 tbsp Vegetable oil
1½ lbs [750 gms] Potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
3 whole Cloves
3 whole Cardamom pods
2 sticks Cinnamon
2-3 Bay Leaves
1 large Onion, chopped (approximately 1½ cups)
2 small Tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp Turmeric
2 tbsp Red Chilli powder (adjust to your taste)
2-inch piece Ginger, peeled and crushed to a paste
6 cloves Garlic, crushed to a paste
4lbs [2 kgs] bone-in Chicken pieces with skin removed (combination of thigh, leg, and breast)
Salt (to taste)
3½ cups Water
  1. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium–high heat. Add potatoes and brown for 5 mins, until lightly golden. Remove potatoes and set aside in a bowl. 
  2. Add remaining 3 tbsp oil to the pot. When the oil is smoking, add cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaves, stir for about 1 min and allow the spices to swell. Add onions and fry for 7–8 mins, until golden brown and well caramelised. Add chopped tomatoes and stir well for 5 mins until they disintegrate into the onions. 
  3. Mix turmeric and chilli powder with a little water to make into a paste, and add to the pot. Stir briskly for about 2 mins, and then add ginger and 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 with the spices. Continue stirring the chicken until it loses its raw, pink colour. Add potatoes, salt and water, stir, and bring to a brisk 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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