I bet we can all agree on how rushed-quick the past 10 months of 2016 flashed through, much like the incredible hero scenes from Barry Allen's secret life. Right? Right. And if you can't, let's not take this to word. Just nod along and pretend you do.
We are at second to last holiday of the year, one which reminds us to live in thanks, is opener to THE most extensive meal our plates have seen in 364 days and official kickoff to the yuletide season. Not to mention the joyride of weeklong leftovers that everyone looks forward to all year long. This, in less than four days, and here I am between bouts of panic and absolute procrastination swims. What do I do? Probably as I type this, keeping my mind at ease in the knowledge of saving precious refrigerator space for the few days working up to The Great Feast.
And so we go on to more pressing things in life.
The time you visit the neighborhood Indian restaurant and order a meal, possibly(?) better than some things you've ever made, and you begin to question your existence. I know. I try shamelessly to plug my stellar cooking mastery here, (thank you for putting up with the ego parade) and it is hard to admit great food might exist outside the confines of my kitchen. Ahh, did I just say THAT?! You know, we don't need to repeat everything I say. Please.
Things happen when people who live under your roof, whom you feed, clothe, care for and rightfully demand loyalty from, claim that a menu produced the most excellent thing they have ever tasted. It gets personal. And offensive. You forget the 14 pound turkey you were supposed to buy yesterday and get to work on restoring your reputation.
Not that comparable results haven't passed through this kitchen, with some chronicled into plating here. But it is hard to be outmatched by an item on an order list of 20 things that people make at least 50 times a day.
To recreate/remaster/reclassify a masterful carte du jour, and similar renditions that I've probably eaten my way through countless times than recalled, became my mission, right after my midday nap/yoga/run or whatever initiative my mind had been preset to.
I've gone into the variables of what can make a masala medley magnificent (sounds nice, right?). As is it's without doubt, totally one's own jurisdiction to whether onions, garlic, ginger merely coalesce, mildly mingle or strongly stampede, decisions to turn your own Indian cuisine borderline meh or an arrant outrageous.
Chicken is good. Curry is good. Chicken curry is very very good. And innumerable kinds and types should be, always are needed, welcomed, and greatly applauded.
Cashew chicken curry as I would like to call it, possesses an old world grand. Almost like a throwback to how glorious Central Asian cuisine could actually be. It bears a stamp from medieval India, of those regal Mughals and their spiced loaded, crazy aromatic gastronomics . Other recipes that c. chicken curry can be pen named under: Chicken Korma, Rezala, or Mughlai chicken. I really am no pundit in ranking curry, though I believe I am the best you would probably come to know(😀). I do, however, know that this can ideally be that meal fit for kings.
It is quite indisputably a feast. For the eyes. For the belly. And though it may sound cliche, for the very depths of your soul.
There is comfort in the velvet cream of cashews and spices pasted. Quick heat renders meat pieces a true envied char. The steeping in topnotch ingredients, somewhere, somehow brings us to beauteous curry making reality A distinctive, air-scenting finish becomes the thick, luxe end-all we so clearly associate as the accompaniment to rice/ naan dishes in formal or less formal settings. It is magnificence that should be lauded in the courts of any layman's dining room.
Don't let the expansive ingredient list scare you. It might be shocking to see how a mere (no smirking) 27 ingredients come together, in perfect harmony, while still pulling off what's arrogantly impressive. Which definitely works in any favor, as your home cook status gives way to chef magnifique, and those many revisits hereafter will make you master of a cultish curry cuisine.
An assembly of The Superior, ready to coalesce on to the perfect destination.
- 1 ½ pounds skinned, bone-in chicken, cut into 1- 1/2 inch pieces
- 2-4 tbsp red chili powder or cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp turmeric
- juice of 1 lemon
- ½ inch piece peeled ginger, roughly chopped
- 6 whole cloves garlic
- 4-5 sprigs cilantro
- 1 sprig mint
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp coriander powder
- ¼ cup cashews soaked in ½ cup water
- 1/4 cup tbsp cooking oil(I use canola)
- 1 whole star anise
- pinch fennel seeds
- 1 small stick cinnamon
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 large red onion finely chopped
- water(upto 1- 1/2 cups)
- ¼ cup plain nonfat yoghurt
- ½ tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ cup half and half
- chopped cilantro(2-3 sprigs) for garnish
- Marinade chicken with red chili powder, black pepper, turmeric, lemon juice and salt. Keep aside for 15- 30 minutes to half an hour.
- Meanwhile, process the ginger, garlic, cilantro, mint, cumin, coriander, cashews with water in a food processor or mini prep until a smooth paste forms.
- Heat oil in dutch oven/large deep set skillet. Add chicken and deep brown on all sides of pieces for about 7-10 minutes. Pieces do not have to cook through.
- Take out chicken from oil and set aside.
- Crush star anise, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom in mortar and pestle. Add to the oil used for chicken, in the pan.
- Stir in onions on medium heat. Cook until soft.
- Pour in the ground paste. Add a small amount of water into the blender vessel to shake clean any leftover paste. Pour this into pan.
- Saute ingredients until moisture evaporates, mixture is fragrant and color changes to a pale green/brown, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add chicken.
- Add remaining water.
- Add salt to taste.
- Bring ingredients to boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook for an additional 25 minutes.
- Stir in yoghurt until blended with curry.
- Add garam masala, sugar. Stir.
- Pour in half and half. Mix once and turn off heat.
- Sprinkle with cilantro.
- Serve warm with green rice, white rice, naan, maybe even K parotta Anything that spins your orbit.
If you desire to inhale higher levels of heat, upto inferno, by all means marinade with more red chili powder(cayenne).
2015: Stuffed acorn squash
2013: PB Oreo blondies
The star that perks the overall scene.
A few decades ago( it surprises me how long I've lived) I'd visit a restaurant that served a similar, if not better cashew creamed curry. My friend took me there to perk me up after a particularly hard day. Yes, people, it had already begun, where food was solution to all my world problems. For a year or so, it became a routine for us. So also, memories that would last a lifetime. A friend that would too. Love you Ranikutty❤️
Yes. All pictures taken by me. Tisa Jacob. Do not borrow without asking. Not nice. Thanks:-)