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Chicken Curry, Without the Hurry

August 15, 2010

One of my favorite parts of going home is, of course, the food. All the dals, curries — and if I’m lucky, biriyani — a girl could ever hope to eat!

Though I love Indian food, I’ve never tried to make it myself. There’s a ton of steps, too many expensive spices and it could never be as good as my mom’s. Traditional Indian food takes time: roasting spices, building layer upon layer of flavor, developing complex tastes. Rachael Ray may make it in a hurry, but the chicken curry I grew up with is at least an hour-long affair.

Our power finally came back on late Friday night, so Saturday, I decided I needed to make something. My mom had been planning to make chicken curry, and she convinced me to try it myself. It was a long process, but so worth it — the curry was amazing. Almost exactly like my mom makes!

Yesterday, I made the curry a little bit out of order. The corrected recipe is below, though the photos may not correspond accordingly.

– 4 medium-sized yellow onions, sliced

– 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped

– 2 whole chickens, cut into small bone-in pieces (about 8 lbs.)

– 5 medium-sized red potatoes, quartered

– 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

– 1 large bay leaf

– 3 inches fresh ginger

– 4 large cloves of garlic

– 1 large plum tomato, roughly chopped

– ½ teaspoon sugar

– 2 teaspoons turmeric

– 1-½ teaspoons ground coriander

– 1 teaspoon ground cumin

– 1-½ teaspoons cayenne

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 3-4 cups water, depending on how much gravy you want with your chicken

1) Blend together the ginger, garlic, the small onion and one of the tomatoes until it forms a paste, adding minimal water as necessary. Reserve.

2) Coat the bottom of a 5-quart Dutch oven with vegetable oil, so that there is a quarter-inch of oil on the bottom of the pot. Fry the potatoes on medium heat until they are slightly browned and remove them.

3) Brown the cumin seeds and bay leaf. (I did this step first, then fried the potatoes.)

4) Let the sugar caramelize with the browned seeds, and then add the sliced onions. Fry the onions until they are browned. (I didn’t remove the potatoes until the onions were already slightly brown, resulting in fully-cooked potatoes. You’ll want to take them out when they’re half-cooked.)

5) Add the spice paste and salt and cook for a few minutes. Then mix in the chicken. Add the turmeric, coriander, cumin and cayenne.

6) Let the chicken simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the spices are cooked and a thin layer of oil rises to the top. Halfway through the simmering process, add the potatoes. (I had to add them later, since my potatoes were already cooked.)

7) Once the oil has risen, add the water and let everything simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until the meat and potatoes are fork-tender. Salt to taste, if necessary.

Serve with rice, nan, pita or even flour tortillas.

Note: Though I prefer boneless chicken in general, since it’s much easier to eat, my mom said that the bones add some flavor here and that boneless would taste different. I’ve never had boneless chicken curry, so I don’t know what “different” means, but the bone-in chicken is delicious!

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