Saturday, October 24, 2015

Basic chicken curry

Spanning roadside stall specials to multistar menus, there is an impressiveness in molten, sienna colored wellfragranced gravies, replete with protein, served straight over hot rice and/or flatbread. So splendid it definitely demands regular rounds at weekly dinner tables. A simple curried chicken that takes comfort in a bowl or in this case, plate to a whole new level.

Of course, you shouldn't let the word basic undermine the fantasticness of what's been set before you today. This is special, your welcome door to the tastes of the Southeast Asian part of the world. What most people, especial of India, get handed down from generations combined, you will receive in this quick 100 word/ three minute read(even shorter if you ace speed-read).

Just know you're bound to find as many versions of chicken curry alone, as there are people in the Indian subcontinent. Maybe an exaggeration, maybe not. A mix of onions, chilies, garlic, ginger, and melange of spice rendered into the cooking pan at separate intervals, plus or minus a few others, can produce thousands of possibilities, all combinations that can scoot under the  "curry" umbrella.  Wet, or dry, it may be named after the dish it's cooked in, from the area it was invented in, the amount of spices it should be roasted in, so on and so forth. We've even spotlighted The Illustrious 65, where the number of theories that make the name are as popular as the dish

Today, we go through a fundamental, easily digestible (Yes. Pun!) curry construct, a workflow that doesn't require a whole lot of substeps. This can be the foundation to more advanced concoctions. Of course, there is a certain magnificence in a well rounded, straightforward, tremendously good curry. And I believe I have perfected the art to it.

So, shall we begin?
Fiery red chillies, pops of mustard seeds and beneficial coconut lend not only depth of flavor, but fantastic texture, as well. Onions, curry leaves and a crush of all the right spices add body and aroma, while meat juices with help from a cup of water bring in a gravy, stocky enough to cling to pieces and not so insubstantial for pieces to play hide and seek.

A point to take along in task; when cooking large amounts of nonmarinaded white meat, chances are it will taste just like that...white meat..swimming in sauce, and so not ever a good thing. You want those elements that endow to the masala mix to combine and coalesce in a long-ish cook time, essential for flavors to hinge on to meat and and have your house smell like a first-class Indian restaurant.  

Don't be overwhelmed with the component number required in making this onepot wonder. Most of it's tossed in quick succession, building on and balancing a flavor index that takes you from raw spice to rightful curry perfection. Bonetender pieces get inundated with unbeatable kick and well rounded warmth, so utter you'll need to doublepat yourself on the back . 
  
Give it a try. A few times over and you may find you're eligible to compete in Master Chef, Indian edition. Or just smitten with a new favorite chicken dinner you can't get enough of. Either way, it's a win-win. 


Think fresh, people. Don't plow the depths of your refrigerator looking for that end piece of ginger/onion/garlic that's seen better days.
Chicken curry~
Ingredients:
  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 crushed cloves
  • 1 crushed cardamom
  • 2 crushed peppercorns
  • 2 medium sized red onions, sliced thin
  • 1 tsbp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 3 serrano peppers, sliced in half
  • handful curry leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp red chili powder(cayenne pepper)
  • 3 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ¼ cup unsweetened, frozen coconut slices, thawed at room temperature (optional)
  • 1 lb skinned, bone-in whole chicken, cut into 2 " pieces 
  • ½ to 1 cup water
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • 2-3 sprigs cilantro
Directions:
  • Heat oil in a large dutch oven or heavy based pan.
  • Add mustard seeds, cloves, cardamom, pepper corns. Allow the seed to pop.
  • Add sliced onions, saute tll translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add ginger, garlic, serrano, half the curry leaves. Stir until ginger garlic cook through, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add cayenne, coriander, cumin, turmeric and tomato. Saute for a minute.
  • Stir in coconut.
  • Put in cut chicken pieces. Combine with the onion-spice mixture over high heat.
  • Add water. Allow the chicken mixture to boil on high.
  • Once it comes to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 35-40 minutes on a low flame. Open lid to stir at regular intervals. 
  • When chicken is tender, stir in garam masala and turn off heat
  • Sprinkle in the remaining curry leaves, along with cilantro.
  • Serve hot with rice or Indian flatbread, such as naan, chappathi.
~Add water according to the consistency and amount of gravy you need. I use upto 1 1/2 cups at times. 
~The above is a general spice guideline. I like to adhere to the adage (mine), a bit more spice makes everything nice :-) and am especially partial to the heat renderers, plenteous amounts of cayenne and peppers, particularly in this chicken which give it color as well as a good build of flavor. Play around with what works for you...it could translate from a pretty good curry to an astoundingly great one.
~What is garam masala? Translated as hot mixture, this is a blend of spices common to Indian cooking and usually consists of a combination of cinnamon or cassia bark, cumin seeds, cardamom, fennel, cloves, star anise, bay leaves. The spices are ground to powder form in either a spice mill, grinder or coffee bean grinder(preferably one not used for coffee) and can be stored in airtight containers. No time to mill and grind? Find it right here.

This has forever been in that extremely long list of recipes that I do and wish to surely, if not slowly unbundle here. To punch out a draft that's spent so long in queue seems Herculean at times. Picture taking faces many odds. Curry is rarely photogenic. Light becomes The Issue when cooking ends late and Fall decides to deduct daylight from my life. And I am so not in the mood to click what I could just be eating. Right. At. That. Moment. Ah the reasons! But then we come through, here be the finished product and a fairly pixellated page that looks decent enough to have it's screen debut. 
God is good.  All the Time
1 year ago: Besan laddoo
3 years ago: Omeluffin

******
Supermoon/bloodmoon eclipse 2015 and some Redrocks staring at my lens. Prettiness that my camera occasionally gifts me must always be shared.
 "When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?" Psalm 8:3,4